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One killed, mosques burned in religious riots in northeast town
Reports on Ethnic Relations  /  Rapports sur les relations éthniques

The following section is consisted of part, full or summaries of articles from diverses sources (newspapers, newsletters, etc...).
La section suivante est constituée d'exraits, de la totalité ou de résumés d'articles provenant d'origines diverses (journaux,bulletins, etc..).


06 / 30 / 2003 

DAILY TRUST (Nigeria)

The Article: "Obasanjo pledges to heal political wounds" (Suleiman Mohammed & Henry Omunu)

President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday pledged to heal the wounds created by the outcome of the elections that saw him to power as he and Vice President Atiku Abubakar were sworn in to begin a second term in office.

The result of the elections left many deeply hurt: "A large number of people came out of the election experience feeling hurt with mostly emotional injuries, but in some instances, regrettably, there had been physical wounds, and even death", he said in his inaugural address titled: "Continuity, stability and progress".

The president however said that despite the crisis, it was satisfying that the election moved the nation forward democratically and promised to use his mandate to provide quality leadership for all Nigerians regardless of their political persuasion. "Anything less would be unconstitutional, morally inadequate and contrary to the will of God whose wishes are my command".

The president who was dressed in white agbada as was the vice president, was watched as he took the oath of office and allegiance at Eagle Square, Abuja, by four former heads of state - General Yakubu Gowon, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Chief Ernest Shonekan and Alhaji Shehu Shagari as well as 10 African heads of state.

The president promised the dream born at the return of democracy four years ago alive "in adherence to my leadership vision of a greater Nigeria, the only way to advance this country that belongs to all of us is through solidarity and hard work".

He said government was conscious of the high expectations of Nigerians and promised that in the next four years, efforts would be made to resurrect the infrastructure "and our comatose public services will function again".

Admitting government’s inability to deal with the problem of corruption and restore the economy, the president promised to make efforts to change the situation although he had no magic wand to achieve instant transformation.

"Four years ago, we had no illusions that it would be easy to put right in a few years, the destruction of two decades, but we did not allow the enormity of the task to force us into retreat. Instead, we took it on as a challenge and duty for the kind of leadership we believe can save Nigeria", he said.

Reviewing his administration in the past four years, President Obasanjo said that despite a few hiccups, statistics of social indices show that considerable improvements were achieved in the quality of life as measured by higher income and stronger purchasing power.

"The greatest gain of all is the increase in the social capital as measured by the amount of faith and trust that citizens now have in their social system. There is ample evidence that hopelessness and despair have been replaced by enthusiasm, hope and faith in brighter prospects for the country", he said.

He listed achievements in the oil and gas sector, and power supply, healthcare, education, agriculture, industry, foreign policy and politics among the gains of the past four years and promised that Nigerians will be better off in the next four years.

He said that even if he were the only one who believed Nigerians can change, "I am not daunted," because there was a necessity to change to moral rectitude so that the country can move forward.

"Today, I ask all Nigerians to come along with me in the Nigerian-craft; let us pilot and move it in the next four years, let us keep it at a cruising level that is beyond turbulence, and let us sustain an optimum cruising speed in the direction of our dreams. Let this be our hope, and let this be the challenge for all of us", he declared.

He commended those who participated in the elections and hoped that the experience of the past would not be repeated at all levels, "so that the future will be brighter for Nigeria and Nigerians."

At the Eagle Square to watch the ceremony were Presidents John Kuffour of Ghana, Paul Biya of Cameroun, Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Mathieu Kerekou of Benin Republic, Laurent Gbogbo of Cote d’Ivoire, Tejjan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and Abdullahi Wade of Senegal.

Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott represented the United Kingdom while Mr. Rod Palge, the United States’ Secretary of Education, led his countryÿ
92s delegation.

06 / 12 / 2003 

IRIN

The article: "Death toll rises to 15 in northeast religious riots"

At least 15 people have died as sectarian violence which first flared in the northeast Nigerian town of Numan at the weekend spread to nearby villages, the police said on Thursday.

Hafiz Ringim, the police commissioner for Adamawa State, in which Numan is located, told reporters the violence also degenerated into widespread looting of homes and shops by hoodlums who took advantage of the unrest.

Violence first broke out in the predominantly Christian town on Sunday after an itinerant Hausa-speaking Muslim trader with origins in the northwest, stabbed a Christian woman to death over a dispute. Mobs of Christian youths responded by burning the main mosque in the town along with other smaller
ones and the buildings of prominent Muslims.

But as police reinforced in the town, bands of local ethnic Bachama youths spread to nearby villages to hunt down Muslims and continued the reprisal attacks, Ringim said. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on the entire Numan district and surrounding areas while further police reinforcements have been sent into the area to maintain peace, he said.

Relations between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have grown increasingly tense since twelve states in the country's predominantly Islamic north adopted strict Shariah law. The new legal code prescribes much harsher punishments for various offences than were previously applied. They include public flogging for drinking alcohol, the ampuation of limbs for stealing and stoning to death for adultery.

Thousands of people have died in bouts of Christian, Muslim fighting across Nigeria in the last four years since Shari'ah implementation began. Africa's most populous country of more than 120 million people is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south.

The article: "Obasanjo launches review of local government"

President Olusegun Obasanjo has set up a "special technical committee" to review Nigeria's notoriously corrupt and inefficient local government councils and recommend whether or not they should continue to exist as a tier of government.

Obasanjo said in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday night that he had ordered the review because these councils cost a lot to run, but had failed to serve as agents of development.

Their abolition would concentrate more power in the hands of Nigeria's 36 state governments, each of which has an elected governor and legislature.

The president recalled that Nigeria's current local government structure was introduced in 1976 to speed up the development of cities, towns and rural areas.

"However, what we have witnessed is the abysmal failure of the local government system," Obasanjo said. "The resources available which otherwise should be used for development programmes at the grassroots are being used to service bloated elected officials and unproductive bureaucracies,"

The number of local government councils has more than doubled from 310 in 1976 to 774 and more than 500 new ones are in the process of being created.

Obasanjo said he was worried that the proposed new councils would spread existing resources even more thinly and increase adminstrative costs without delivering services more efficiently.

The President who was re-elected for a second four-year term in April, has promised to draw from lessons learnt in his first term to work towards building "a great Nigeria".

 

06 / 09 / 2003 

IRIN

The article: "Obasanjo appoints new military commanders"

President Olusegun Obasanjo has made changes in Nigeria's military hierarchy, shortly after being sworn in to start a new four-year term as elected head of state.

An official statement read on state-owned Radio Nigeria on Saturday said the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Alexander Ogomudia, had been promoted to Chief of Defence Staff, in charge of all the three arms of the armed forces and the police.

Ogomudia, 53, is known as an Obasanjo loyalist who has spent most of his army career in the signals corps. He joined the army as a cadet from primary school in 1962 and eventually obtained university degrees in telecommunications and strategic studies.

He replaced Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi, who voluntarily retired as head of the armed forces after 35 years of service.

Maj-Gen Martin Luther Agwai, a senior peacekeeping official with the United Nations, succeeded Ogomudia as head of the army.

Agwai was deputy commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for two years until he became Deputy Military Adviser in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at UN headquarters in New York, in November last year.

The head of the navy, Vice-Admiral Samuel Afolayan, and head of the air force, Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep, both retained their positions in the military reshuffle.

Obasanjo's election in 1999 ended more than 15 years of military rule in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with more than 120 million people. Obasanjo was a former military ruler in the 1970s and was reputed to have the influence to bring Nigeria's 80,000-strong military establishment under civilian control.

Nigeria has been prone to coups ever since independence from Britain in 1960. The military have ruled for 29 of its 43 years as an independent state.

Obasanjo appointed new service chiefs and purged the military of hundreds of officers who had held political office in previous military governments when he began his first term as an elected president in 1999.

At that time he appointed Gen. Victor Malu, a respected veteran of regional peacekeeping efforts in Liberia in the 1990s, to head the army. However, Malu was sacked in 2001 after he publicly opposed Obasanjo's plan to have the United States retrain the Nigerian military. He was replaced by Ogomudia.

The article: "One killed, mosques burned in religious riots in northeast town"

At least one person was killed as several mosques and houses were burnt in sectarian violence in Nigeria's northeastern town of Numan, police and residents said on Monday.

Residents of the predominantly Christian town on the Benue river in Adamawa state said the violence started on Sunday after an itinerant Muslim trader stabbed a Christian woman to death over a dispute. Mobs of Christian youths responded by burning the main mosque in the town along with other smaller ones and the buildings of prominent Muslims.

"It's likely some other people were killed but I can't say for certain now," Robert Tuhumang, a resident, told IRIN.

A police official said only one person died while the situation had been brought under control. Armed anti-riot police were patrolling the streets and several arrests had been made, he said.

Relations between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have grown increasingly tense since twelve states in the country's predominantly Islamic north adopted strict Shariah law. The new legal code prescribes much harsher punishments for various offences than were previously applied. They include public flogging for drinking alcohol, the ampuation of limbs for stealing and stoning to death for adultery.

Thousands of people have died in bouts of Christian, Muslim fighting across
Nigeria in the last four years since Shari'ah implementation began. Africa's
most populous country of more than 120 million people is roughly split
between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south.

 

06 / 04 / 2003 

IRIN

The article: "Legislature reconvenes, Obasanjo loyalists take charge"

Nigeria's two-chamber national legislature appeared set for a more harmonius relationship with the President Olusegun Obasanjo's executive, analysts said Wednesday, after his loyalists swept key posts as both houses reconvened.

The 109-member Senate and the 360-member House of Representatives dissolved on Monday to end the four-year mandate obtained from the electorate in 1999, returned on Tuesday to begin a new term.

Emerging unopposed as new leaders in the two chambers were 55-year-old Adolph Wabara as senate president and 53-year-old Bello Masari as speaker of the lower house.

Two key opponents of Obasanjo - former Senate president Anyim Pius Anyim and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Ghali Na'Abba - were conspicuously missing in the reconvened legislature. Though of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) which had a comfortable majority in both houses, both men were in confrontation with Obasanjo for most of his first
term, even threatening him with impeachment at one point.

Anyim chose not to seek re-election and even resigned from the PDP at the end of his term, while Na'Abba lost his seat to a member of the opposition All Nigeria People's Party. Their replacements, Wabara and Masari, are both known to be close confidants of Obasanjo.

"What the executive wants to achieve in my mind is to have a ready-to-obey national assembly," said Martins Iwuanyanwu, political analyst and president of Leadership Watch non-governmental organisation. "One expects the relationship between the legislature and the executive to be cordial this time as long as the legislators agree with what the executive says," he added.

However, John Adeboye, university teacher and poltical analyst, thinks a legislature does not necessarily have to be confrontational to be effective. "As long as the two arms of government work together in the exercise of their constitutional powers, there is likely to be improved political stability," Adeboye said.

Analysts also appear divided on the benefits of having a legislature that is under the undue influence of the executive.

Some believe such a state of affairs might have its merits if Obasanjo simply requires legislative speed to carry through programmes that would have a positive impact on the lives of the 126 million Nigerian population. But others see a danger of dictatorial tendencies undermining Nigeria's young democracy, if the legislature fails to serve as a check on the excesses of the executive and remains subservient.

The article: "Second stoning death appeal postponed"

Hearing in an appeal filed by two former lovers against a stoning death sentence for adultery imposed on them by an Islamic court in northern Nigeria was deferred on Wednesday until the end of June.

Fatima Usman, 32, and Adamu Ibrahim, 35, were both given the sentence last year in Niger State, one of a dozen states in Nigeria's majority Muslim north that have adopted strict application of the Islamic or Shari'ah legal code. They both appealed against the sentence.

Andulmumini Mohammed, the presiding judge at the Shari'ah appeals court in the state capital, Minna, said hearing had to be postponed because officials of the justice ministry involved in the case were not represented in court and the defence counsel had also applied for an adjournment.

"In view of the fact that the representative of the ministry of justice was not in court...we consider it proper to accept the application," Mohammed said, adding a definite date convenient to all the parties would be worked out later.

The adjournment came a day after a similar appeal concerning 31-year-old mother, Amina Lawal, was pushed back to 27 August in Katsina State, after the judges failed to form a quorum.

The two lovers suffered a dramatic twist of fate after Usman's father had gone to court to compel Ibrahim to provide support for a baby born out of their former relationship. The case then came to the attention of an Islamic court judge who decided adultery had been committed and sentenced the couple to death by stoning as prescribed under Shari'ah.

The introduction of strict Shari'ah in Nigeria has increased tensions between the country's Muslim north and the Chrisitian-dominated south, leading to outbreaks of sectarian violence in which thousands of people have died.

President Olusegun Obasanjo's government has condemned the application of Sharia'h punishments on the grounds they contravene Nigeria's constitution. But the government says it is constrained to intervene by the country's federal structure where the states have autonomy to enact laws.

 

06 / 03 / 2003 

IRIN

The article: "Stoning death appeal postponed again"

The Sharia'h appeals court in Nigeria's northern Katsina State on Tuesday postponed for the third time hearing the appeal against a stoning death sentence on a 31-year-old mother. The court said there were not enough judges to form a quorum.

Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in March 2002 by a lower Sharia'h court after she had a child out of wedlock. The sentence was confirmed by an upper Sharia'h court last year, prompting her appeal to the regional appeals court.

Katsina Sharia'h court registrar Dalhat Abubakar said Lawal's case was being postponed till 27 August because two of the four judges on the appeals panel were currently serving in election tribunals. It was expected, he added, that the two judges would conclude their "national assignment" - occasioned by last month's general elections - by the next scheduled date.

Lawal, who was in court with her two-year-old daughter, expressed anxiety at the continuing delays over the case.

"This is the third time we've been here and the court has not sat. Only God knows when it will be over," she told reporters.

Katsina State is one of a dozen states in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north that have adopted the strict application of Islamic law in the past four years. Prescribed punishments under the law include amputation of limbs for stealing, public flogging for drinking alcohol and stoning to death for adultery.

President Olusegun Obasanjo's government has condemned the application of Sharia'h punishments on the grounds they contravene Nigeria's constitution. But the government says it is constrained to intervene by the country's federal structure where the states have autonomy to enact laws.

The introduction of strict Sharia'h has increased tensions between the country's Muslim north and the Chrisitian-dominated south, leading to outbreaks of sectarian violence in which thousands of people have died.

Lawal's case and previous similar ones have also drawn outrage from the international community, especially human rights and women groups.

Mariella Gramaglia, a human rights activist from Rome, who was in court to witness the proceedings, said her main concern was the rights of Lawal. "I think Nigerian advocates should do all they can to make her live. I hope she will be saved," she said.

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Other data on Nigeria / Autres données sur le Nigéria