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Nigeria: Religious crisis in Niger State

Summary & Comment: Rather than foster brotherly love among people, in several cases religion has served as an apple of discord and a source of death. Nigeria is amongst the most religious nations in the world, but religion-related conflicts actively contribute to the nation’s insecurity. JM

Author: Aisha Wakasso, Minna Date Written: 15 April 2009
Primary Category: Western Region Document Origin: This Day (Minna)
Secondary Category: Interfaith Relations Source URL: http://www.thisdayonline.com/
Key Words: Nigeria, interfaith relations, religious crisis, tolerance

African Charter Article #11: Every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. (Click for full text...)

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Niger State religious crisis - police arrest 104


No fewer than 104 persons have been arrested as a result of their alleged involvement in the religious crisis which led to the burning of three churches in Minna and Gwada towns in Niger State.  This came as the Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, condemned the violence and warned the people to desist from such violence. He pointed out that such crisis does not bring progress, warning that anyone found to be behind the crisis would be made to face the law.

The attacks which left 20 Christian worshippers seriously injured in Gwada and property worth millions of naira destroyed, nearly consumed the 96-year-old First Baptist Church, Minna but for the vigilance of youths of the church. The attacks which marred the Easter celebrations in the two towns started at about 10 am in Gwada, when some religious fanatics attacked some christians who were on procession round the town to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hoodlums beat up and injured those on procession. The unsuspecting victims were stunnned when the irate youths who came with deadly weapons later descended on three churches in the town and set them on fire, destroying everything therein.

In Minna, the state capital, the First Baptist Church would have been down in flames but for the vigilance of the youths in the church. It was gathered that a group of fanatics were seen spraying some cars parked in front of the church with fuel as well as the church bookshop in preparation to set them and the church on fire. But luck ran against them when some youths in the church repelled the fanatics. Five cars were however not spared by the hoodlums, as they smashed their windscreen before the youths in the church over ran them.

Confirming the incidents, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Richard Adamu Oguche, told our reporter that 88 suspects were arrested in Gwada, as two Assistant Commissioner of Police were immediately dispatched to the town to maintain law and order and to restore peace in the town. Admitting that three churches were burnt in Gwada, the Police spokesman said that a detachment of the mobile police had been sent to the town, stressing that hostility of any form had ceased following the presence of his men.

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