By Bukar Bolori
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum has visited the family of Pastor Bitrus Tumba whose son died during a reaction to an attempted demolition of a branch of EYN church in Maiduguri on August 5, 2021 by the Borno Geographic System (BOGIS).
Worshippers at the church were alleged to have attempted to stop a task force by BOGIS from demolishing their worship centre but their action was suppressed by security men in the demolition team who shot bullets that killed the pastor’s son and injured several others.
The Christian community in the state subsequently took the case up with the Governor and staged protest against what they alleged persecution of their faith.
Zulum, who had at the peak of the crisis sent the deputy governor to the family of the deceased, in order to appease the family and the entire Christian community in the state and douse the tension, on Tuesday night paid a visit to Pastor Tumba where he was received by the family and some officials of Christians Association of Nigeria, CAN, led by the association’s chairman, Bishop Mohammed Naga.
The governor had apart from sending the deputy governor, Usman Kadafur to the deceased family had also met with Christian leaders in the state, led by CAN chairman, Bishop Naga, after which he directed the police to thoroughly investigate the incident and report to him.
According to a statement on Wednesday by the governor’s spokesman, his boss was scheduled to visit Ezekiel’s family on the day of the incident, but had to abort to allow the tensed situation to douse down.
He said the governor chose instead to send a private delegation to visit the family on his behalf while he worked behind the scene to calm down situations between religious leaders to prevent potential crisis between youths from different faiths.
Gusau said with the governor at the latest visit was the deputy governor.
Zulum, addressing his host, said: “Let me start by apologizing for delaying my visit even though I had sent a delegation to explain this to you. We deliberately delayed because of the tension in town. We thought it was not a good time to pay you a visit then. I am here to commiserate with your family over the unfortunate death of our brother, Ezekiel Bitrus. My coming here today, weeks after that very unfortunate and painful incident, is proof that we have not forgotten the issue.”
The governor assured the family of the deceased of his commitment to ensuring justice as soon as the Nigerian Police completes ongoing investigation which he directed must be thorough.
He said: “So far, suspects have been quietly arrested and all those involved in that dastardly act are being detained and God willing, they will face justice, as soon as the Police completes investigation and make appropriate recommendations. We shall do justice to the matter without fear or favour. We share your pains. No exercise of government is ever aimed to cause injury let alone the death of any citizen.
“Every person in Borno has equal rights and we have a duty to protect the rights of all persons, top of which is the security of lives. We are pained by what happened and we condole you and your family.
Although, I had sent people to you, I was morally and officially duty bound to visit your family. Please accept our deepest condolences”.
Zulum was also accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Isa Hussaini, and one of his commissioners from the christian community.
Responding on his family’s behalf, Pastor Tumba expressed appreciation to the governor for the visit and said, he considered Ezekiel’s death as an act of God which the family accepts in good faith.
He added that everyone dies in a different way, and God has destined Ezekiel to die from gunshot which no one could have stopped.
“Whatever we do, we cannot bring the dead back to life; as true Christians we have accepted it in good faith. Your Excellency we express our appreciation to you for the visit, I have followed all your efforts on the death of our son, and they show your concern and the fact that you did not forget us, we really appreciate you”, Tumba said.