September 23, 2019

500 die after presidential elections in Nigeria

Destruction in the town of Zonkwa following Mondays violence.

The Nigerian human rights group – Civil Rights Congress, claims more than 500 people died after the presidential elections in early April.

They claim most of the violence was in the northern state of Kaduna, and the casualty count may be higher than their current estimate.

Most of northern Nigeria is Muslim. Rioting broke out in the north once it became clear that Muhammadu Buhari (a northern candidate) had been defeated by incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Christian from the south.

As is usual with ethnic/religious violence, thousands of people have fled their homes to try and escape the conflict.

Muhammadu Buhari has denied instigating the violence and calls it “sad, unfortunate and totally unwarranted”.

Muslim opposition supporters staged riots to protest the election result. Churches were burnt and Christians attacked. In retaliation, Muslims were the victims of revenge attacks.

The Civil Rights Congress said the worst hit area was the town of Zonkwa in rural Kaduna where more than 300 people died.

“The updated figure is about 516,” said Shehu Sani, head of the congress.

This week Nigeria is holding the elections for the Governorship of each of Nigeria’s 36 states, and there is every chance that violence will flare up again

There is a lot of anger in the north following the death of, northern Muslim, President Umaru Yar’Adua last year and his replacement by vice-President Goodluck Jonathan from the South.

There is also a growing economic disparity between the north and south which is fueling resentment as much as any religious or ethnic differences.

Nigeria is a country of enormous diversity. Newswarped hopes that stability comes soon to Africa’s most populous nation. Nigeria is far too important for the stability of the entire continent, to be riven with internal strife and unable to play it’s diplomatic leadership role to other African nations.