Nigeria Steps Up Security After Militants Kill Christians

Thursday, October 25, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) -- Nigeria's central government will deploy more police to the nation's troubled state of Kaduna "to fight crime", after two Christians were reportedly killed there by suspected Muslim militants, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, October 24.

Kaduna's Governor Namadi Sambo also told reporters that patrol cars, a patrol helicopter and communication equipment are "to complement the gesture of the police to flush out criminals from the state to ensure a more secure environment," news Website reported.

His announcement came after the church umbrella group Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said 24-year-old Henry Emmanuel Ogbaje was beaten to death in the state's capital, Kaduna. Muslim militants apparently used wooden clubs in the October 12 attack, while the young man was at an area known as Gamji Gate. The following day another young Christian, identified only as Basil, was reportedly killed by a sword in the same area.

Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency, quoted CAN's Secretary of Northern Nigeria, Elder Saidu Dogo, as saying that Islamic leader Sheik Ahmad Gumi had urged Muslims to wage jihad against Christians in televised remarks during the Islamic month-long observance of Ramadan.


Both murders took place as Muslims were celebrating the Eid-El-Fatr festival marking the end of Ramadan. "He specifically called for a jihad," Dogo reportedly said, adding that the sheik urged his followers to "not to the elderly people, because the elderly have spent their years already, but that Muslims should kill young Christians."

There was no immediate reaction from the sheik, but he is known as a hardliner seeking more Muslim legislation and control over the state and Nigeria. The killings have underscored concerns about mounting tensions between Muslims and Christians in the country.

Last month rampaging Muslims reportedly killed at least nine Christians and injured at least 61 others. Angry mobs also destroyed nine churches and displaced over 500 people in the town of Tudun Wada in the nation’s, mainly Muslim, Kano State, Christians said at the time.


Local police and Christians said that violence began on the morning of September 28 in the Government Secondary School in Tudun Wada, where Muslim high school students claimed Christian students had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque. Just over a dozen of the estimated 1,500 students at the high school are Christians.

The national government has said it wants to organize an inter-religious conference to discuss the tensions. However Christians in Nigeria have been on extra alert since April when Nigeria's Christian president was replaced by a Muslim, Umaru Yar'Adua, after he won the presidential ballot. International observers have said the election was marred by fraud and violence.

Christian groups say they fear that under his leadership Christians will continue to suffer, especially in the northern, predominantly Islamic states, of the country. CAN has already said that Christians state workers have been dismissed by Muslim officials from several positions, including in the state of Borno.


One of them, Asabe Ladagu, a Christian widow in Borno's capital Maidugurital, reportredly said she was dismissed 16 months ago from her job at Ramat Polytechnic library by Muslim administrators and forced into early retirement – without pay – after she and others requested land to build a chapel.

"We were branded as dangerous people because we are Christians," Ladagu said in comments published by Compass Direct News Wednesday, October 24. She said she worked 35 years as Ramat Polytechnic’s librarian and chief lecturer. "Other Christian brethren too have either been forced out or have been the subjects of witch-hunts," she added.

However President Yar'Adua has reportedly said he would respect all religions, and pressure all states in the country to carry out his multi-religious policies. "I would like to see that I have a government that is trusted and credible and that can be so, if we have proper respect for law and order - in other words the rule of law is placed in an exulted position," he said in an interview. But with ongoing violence and reports of dismissals, people on the ground are anxiously awaiting the government's next move, rights watchers have suggested. (With reporting from Nigeria and BosNewsLife Research).

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