The Archbishop of Uganda has condemned the 9 Aug 2020 demolition of a parish church carried out by agents of a land developer, calling it a “barbaric act of destruction”.

The ownership of the land under St Peter’s Anglican Church in Ndeeba in the Diocese of Namirembe has been the subject of litigation between the church and a local developer, who has brought suit to evict the congregation from the property.

Last year high court judge Eudes Keitirima ruled the gift of the land to the Church of Uganda 49 years ago had not been perfected, and held the title was not held by the church.

The eleven men who demolished the church over the weekend, seeking to repossess the land, were arrested by police for malicious damage and for violating a curfew imposed by the government during the COVID-19 epidemic. The government has also forbad all evictions during the pandemic emergency.

A Kampala police spokesman told reporters that three policemen had been arrested for neglect of duty. The three are alleged to have stood by and watched the demolition, taking no action to enforce the curfew or eviction ban.

“Kampala Metropolitan Police is investigating circumstances under which St. Peter’s Church of Uganda, Ndeeba, was demolished this morning disregarding government directives that stopped all evictions during this COVID19 period,” police spokesman Patrick Onyango told reporters, noting a truck and an excavator found at the scene were impounded.

“We want to warn the general public who are planning to evict people during this period of COVID19 that they risk being arrested and charged in courts of law,” Mr. Onyango said.

Archbishop Samuel Kaziimba issued a statement denouncing the demolition. “This destruction of the House of God took place in the darkness of night during a curfew; and, the security forces, who are supposed to uphold the law and guard against destroyers, were allegedly complicit in the destruction of a House of God. Squatters have rights after being on land for 12 years, and yet St. Peter’s Church has been on that land for 40 years. We call for a serious and impartial inquiry into this matter.”

The archbishop’s statement in full is printed below.

Archbishop’s Statement on the Demolition of St. Peter’s Church, Ndeeba

The Most Rev Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, has released the following statement concerning the sinister demolition of St. Peter’s Church, Ndeeba:

“On behalf of the House of Bishops and all Christians of the Church of Uganda, we express our sincere condolences to the Bishop and people of Namirembe Diocese, and especially those of St. Peter’s Church, Ndeeba, on last night’s destruction of their treasured building and House of Worship. We are grateful that our grandmother, who donated the land for the church, is not alive to see the destruction that has been done to the sacred place she gave as a gift to God.

“This barbaric act of destruction is evil. If an action can’t be done in broad daylight, then there is something deeply wrong; we have lost respect for God. This destruction of the House of God took place in the darkness of night during a curfew; and, the security forces, who are supposed to uphold the law and guard against destroyers, were allegedly complicit in the destruction of a House of God. Squatters have rights after being on land for 12 years, and yet St. Peter’s Church has been on that land for 40 years. We call for a serious and impartial inquiry into this matter.

“During lockdown, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not been locked down.  Likewise, the destruction of St. Peter’s Church, Ndeeba, will not deter the Church from preaching the Gospel. Jesus promised us that the “gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ.” (Matthew 16.18)

“We stand in solidarity with the Bishop, Namirembe Diocese, and especially the Christians of St. Peter’s Church. Especially during this time of a global pandemic, the church is needed now more than ever. We assure you of our prayers for a peaceful and just resolution to this tragic situation.”

Source:AnglicanLink

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