Ethno-Net Database: Nigeria

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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..).


11 / 29 / 2002 

IRIN

The Article: "Islamic council overrules fatwa on journalist"

Nigeria’s leading Islamic council, Jama'atu Nasril Islam, on Thursday overruled the death sentence or fatwa passed on a local newspaper reporter for an article considered blasphemous by Muslims.

The northern state of Zamfara had urged Muslims on Monday to kill Isioma Daniel of Thisday daily as a religious obligation for her article dismissing Muslim opposition to the hosting of the Miss World contest in Nigeria. In the article, Daniel, who has since fled Nigeria, suggested prophet Mohammed may have chosen one of the contestants for a wife.

"The Zamfara state government has no authority to issue fatwas and the fatwa issued by it should be ignored," a statement signed by Lateef Adegbite, the council’s secretary general, said.

The statement said the leader of Nigerian Muslims, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Macido, had asked the fatwa committee to meet and discuss Daniel ’s article, having noted the apology made by the newspaper.

Muslim protests against the Thisday article had degenerated into four days of sectarian violence in the northern city of Kaduna last week in which more than 200 people died. The Miss World organisers cancelled the contest, which was to have held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and moved it to London.

President Olusegun Obasanjo travelled on Thursday to Kaduna, where he visited some of the wounded in hospital. He told a meeting of religious and traditional rulers he had directed the security agencies to apprehend those responsible for the violence.

Christian leaders remained critical of the government’s handling of the crisis, saying most of the casualties were non-Muslims. "If the government fails to protect us, our people will be left with no option but to defend and protect themselves by whatever means available to them," Methodist Archbishop Ola Makinde, told reporters.

He blamed the increasing cases of sectarian violence in Nigeria on the introduction of strict Islamic or Shari’ah law by 12 states in the predominantly Muslim north. More than 2,000 people died in Kaduna in 2000 in violence that erupted over an attempt by the government to introduce the Islamic legal code.

11 / 28 / 2002 

IRIN

The Article: "30,000 displaced by religious riots - Red Cross"

More than 30,000 people were displaced during four days of religious riots in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, the Nigerian Red Cross said on Thursday.

Red Cross spokesman Patrick Bawa said more than 1,000 people were injured while over 200 died in the clashes between Christians and Muslims.

The violence had erupted last week after Muslim militants protested against a 16 November article in the Thisday daily dismissing their opposition to the Miss World contest which was due to be held in Nigeria. The writer, Isioma Daniel, suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would have approved of the beauty pageant and may even have chosen one of the contestants for a wife.

"More than 7,000 families were displaced in the violence, and if you multiply the number by an average of five people a family you get more than 30,000," Bawa told IRIN.

The Nigerian security forces brought the situation in Kaduna under control on Sunday, although tension was still high in the city. Bawa said some of those who had fled their homes had started going back. The Red Cross, he said, planned to conduct a fresh needs assessment in the city to determine the numbers yet to return and their current plight.

Humanitarian workers in Kaduna said many of the displaced remained in the police and military barracks where they had taken refuge, afraid of renewed violence if they went home. Thousands of residents, especially Christians from southern Nigeria, were leaving the city and returning to their home regions, they said.

Fears of religious violence spread to other parts of Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north after the pro-Islamic Zamfara State government issued a fatwa - religious edict - urging Muslims to kill Daniel.

The Kaduna-based New Nigerian newspaper reported on Tuesday that Zamfara Deputy Governor Aliyu Shinkafi, called on Muslims to kill Daniel at a rally on Monday in the state capital, Gusau. He remarked that her case was similar to that of the author, Salman Rushdie, sentenced to death by the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

"Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of the ThisDay writer can be shed," Shinkafi was quoted as saying.

The federal government described the fatwa as being of no effect. "The constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the laws do not provide for anyone who has done something like Thisday has done to be killed," Minister of Information Jerry Gana told reporters.

A relaxed form of Shari'ah had existed for decades in northern Nigeria. However, two years ago, Zamfara introduced a stricter version of the Islamic code. Some 11 other states have since followed suit, heightening tension with the largely Christian south.

More than 2,000 people died in sectarian violence in Kaduna two years ago over attempts by the state government to introduce strict Shari'ah.

The decision of the Zamfara authorities to impose the death sentence on the Thisday reporter appeared to contradict the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, which had already accepted the repeated apologies issued by the newspaper for carrying the report.

11 / 26 / 2002 

IRIN The Article: "25 new parties seek registration"

Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Monday that 25 new political parties had applied for registration for general elections to be held next year following a relaxation of stringent eligibility criteria.

The applications came after the Supreme Court threw out most of the conditions imposed by the electoral body for the registration of political parties. The court had ruled last month in favour of five political parties that challenged their disqualification by INEC on the grounds that the eligibility conditions were unconstitutional.

INEC said any party meeting the revised guidelines would be registered. "As far as this commission is concerned, we are a creation of the constitution and we must obey the constitution," INEC's spokesman Okpo Sam Okpo said. "Any of these political associations that applied for registration as a political party that meets the guidelines would certainly be registered."

The list of registered parties would be announced by 5 December, he said.

Parties registered in the current exercise will join six existing ones, including three registered in June. INEC has tentatively set the elections for the period between 29 March and 29 April.

Only three parties, including the ruling People's Democratic Party and the opposition All Nigeria People's Party and the Alliance for Democracy participated in the 1999 polls that brought President Olusegun Obasanjo to power and ended more than 16 years of military rule.

The Article
: "350 charged in connection with Kaduna riots"

Some 350 people arrested during four days of religious riots in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, were charged on Monday with arson, rioting, culpable homicide and other offences, officials said.

Officials said people arrested in predominantly Muslim areas of the city were taken to Shari'ah courts, while those picked up in the mainly Christian areas were given a choice between customary and magistrate courts. According to the police, more than 1,000 people will face charges over the coming days.

The separate trials reflect the religious tensions that have gripped the city which, over the past two years, has experienced waves of sectarian violence.

More than 200 people died in last week's riots, sparked by a newspaper article considered by Muslims as sacrilegious. Several unidentified corpses were taken on Monday from the city's hospitals and given a mass burial.

Kaduna was calm but tense under heavy security presence this week. Leaders of Christian communities in the state held a news conference on Monday in which they accused Kaduna Governor Ahmed Makarfi of inaction in the face of security reports indicating that Muslim militants planned violent protests.

Retired Maj-Gen Yohanna Kure, the spokesman for the group, said military personnel deployed to quell the riots shot at unarmed people from the Christian communities.

"While we do not provoke, we shall no longer tolerate any act of provocative killing, maiming or burning of our churches by anybody for no wrong committed by us as we shall return fire for fire," Kure said.

11 / 25 / 2002 

IRIN

The Article: "Tense calm in Kaduna after riots"

The situation in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna was reported to be tense but calm on Monday following riots and clashes between Muslims and Christians that killed more than 200 people, according to hospital sources and relief workers.

The violence began on Wednesday when Muslim youths began protesting against an article published on Saturday 16 November in a local newspaper, the report suggested in response to opposition by Muslims to the staging of the Miss World beauty contest in Nigeria that the Prophet Mohamed might have approved of it. The organisers of the contest decided on Saturday to move it to London, but clashes between Christians and Muslims continued in Kaduna.

"We have so far counted more than 200 people dead since the violence started," Enoch Dangana, a hospital worker in Kaduna, told IRIN. Officials of the Nigerian Red Cross Society put the casualties at 215 dead and more than 500 injured. They said more than 5,000 people had been displaced from their homes and had taken refuge at police stations and military barracks.

By Monday the security forces had tightened their grip on Kaduna, bringing the situation to a tense calm. The police authorities in Kaduna State said more than 1,000 people arrested in connection with the riots would face charges in court on Monday.

There were fears the violence might spread to other cities after Muslim youths burnt cars in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on Friday and Muslims were attacked in the southeastern city of Aba on Sunday.

Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim while the south is populated by mainly Christians and followers of traditional African faiths.

After Nigeria was awarded hosting rights for Miss World, there had been threats of a worldwide boycott in protest against the sentencing of a single mother, Aminal Lawal, to death by stoning for having a baby out of wedlock. President Olusegun Obasanjo's government pledged not to allow the sentence to be carried out, and the some 92 Miss World contestants arrived in Nigeria two weeks ago.

However, Muslim clerics opposed the idea of hosting the beauty contest on the grounds that it would be a parade of nudity offensive to Islamic sensibilities. The Thisday newspaper article of 16 November saying Mohammed would probably have chosen one of the contestants for a wife if he were alive added fuel to a smouldering fire.

On Saturday, the contestants hurriedly left Nigeria for London, after the organisers switched the venue of the 7 December pageant to the British capital.

"This decision was taken after careful consideration of all the issues involved and in the overall interests of Nigeria and the contestants participating in this year's edition," the organisers said in a statement.

Obasanjo has condemned the newspaper, saying the authorities will take legal action against it. The daily, which has published repeated apologies to Muslims, said its Saturday editor, Simon Kolawole, had been arrested by state security police. The author of the controversial article, Isioma Daniel, was asked to turn herself in.

DAILY TRUST (Nigeria)

The Article: "Nigeria: Relocation of beauty contest is international conspiracy - Minister of Information" (Abdulazeez Abdullahi)

In reaction to the relocation of the Miss World beauty pageant to London, England, Information and National Orientation Minister, Professor Jerry Gana, has pointed accusing fingers at foreign and local media saying they were responsible for the nation's failed attempt to host the event.

As a result of outbreak of violence in Kaduna and the nation's capital city, Abuja, last week organisers moved the event whose finale was to have held on December 7 in Abuja, to London.

"There is an international conspiracy just to show that an African country like Nigeria cannot host this thing.

"I think Nigerians should be really angry with the international press." The minister said, according to the French news agency, AFP.

Ben Murray-Bruce, Chairman of the Nigerian Organising Committee and DG of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), said a huge opportunity to showcase Nigeria to the outside world has been lost.

As the violence escalated, Miss. Canada and Miss South Korea decided to pull out on Friday - before the change of venue was announced.

Another contestant, Miss South Africa, who had initially boycotted the event in Nigeria, told newspapers she would not be going to London because of commitments in South Africa.

"Lots of trouble could have been avoided and now over 100 people have died in riots for no reason," 22-year-old Vanessa Carreira, said.

A spokeswoman for the organisers, Stella Din, said on Sunday the contestants were "feeling really, really miserable."

11 / 24 / 2002 

THE GUARDIAN (Nigeria)

The Article: "Nigeria: Suspects in Kaduna riot face trial today" (Saxone Akhaine, Martins Oloja & Alex Olise)

ABOUT 1,000 persons arrested by the police in the thick of the four-day violence that devastated Kaduna last week, are to be arraigned in court today.

Their immediate prosecution may have been prompted by the position of the Kaduna State government that a judicial commission of inquiry into the crisis was unnecessary.

In a broadcast at the weekend, Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi said the violence had nothing to do with religion and ethnicity but the action of those who do not want peace in the state.

Some of the suspects were paraded at the weekend at an open field in the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) where they are being interrogated.

Also in Abuja, about 100 persons have been arrested in connection with the riots, which spread to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, has equally ordered the deployment of more anti-riot policemen to some flash points in the North.

But Makarfi, who sued for peace in his broadcast, said the state will not leave any stone unturned in bringing the culprits to book.

The protests were sparked off by Moslem youths in Kaduna on Wednesday over Nigeria's hosting of the Miss World pageant and an alleged blasphemous article in a national daily.

Several of the accused persons had various degree of injuries from gunshots, matchet cuts and such other harmful objects. They were placed under heavy security.

Makarfi said the government would not inaugurate a commission of inquiry, but insisted that "those who will be involved shall be punished according to the law".

"We are left with no option but to take a very much more decisive action against perpetrators of crisis and the dastardly acts", he declared.

The governor pointed out that "religion or ethnicity has nothing to do with the violence but rather it is the intention of the perpetrators to turn it to a wider conflict and if we had given in to their desire, they would have succeeded.

"We must all fight these people through a resistance to violence. And the authorities have been fully mandated to take punitive measures to deal with the situation. Also, all those arrested either for murder, theft, and arson will be charged to court on Monday" (today), Makarfi disclosed.

He added: "We shall deal with individuals as they were caught committing any offence, and such shall be done no matter how highly placed the individual maybe."

Meanwhile, the sermon in most churches in Kaduna metropolis yesterday centred on peaceful co-existence.

At the Living Faith Church, the Presiding Bishop, David Abioye, enjoined Christians in the state to be law abiding. He also urged the government to embark on policies that will alleviate poverty, which is the root of the violence.

The All Nigeria Peoples Party's (ANPP) chieftain, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi who spoke with The Guardian, warned: "We must be wary of accusing politicians of having exploited the crisis in Kaduna."

"This is because even though one heard around here in Kaduna attempt to symbolise the protest against the personality of the incumbent state governor, Alhaji Makarfi, I don't think any generalisation of politicians having something to do with the protest is justified," he argued.

Shinkafi said what was justifiable is the cumulative consequences of the type of governance we have, in leaving unemployed people on the streets.

A renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, in reaction to the crisis condemned the action of moslems who attacked and killed Christians that knew nothing about the blasphemous publication.

"They should be regarded as transgressors."

"Moslems should have sued (ThisDay and the writer of the article rather than attack innocent Christians. Those who carried out that attack at this period of Ramadan cannot be regarded as true moslems," he stressed.

Besides, a Northern group, the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), has said: "We unambiguously condemn the resort to violence that has brought about lawlessness and disorder in the process."

Its Secretary General, Malam Nasiru Abbas, observed that "the steps taken by the government and security agents were too belated.

"If action was taken earlier, many lives could have been saved", he asserted.

Speaking on the security checks put in place, Force Public Relations Officer, Chris Olakpe, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), explained that there are more police presence in the entire northern states, especially Abuja and Kaduna where the riots were fiercest.

He said military personnel had been dispatched to the trouble spots to complement the anti-riot police efforts.

The police spokesman also denied reports that sophisticated weapons like AK47 rifles were freely used during the riots.

"The police have not recovered any firearm, we didn't see any gun from those arrested so far," he said A source in Abuja traced the genesis of the protest to a lawyer in Abuja who leaked offensive publication to a Moslem leader in Kaduna.

11 / 22 / 2002 

IRIN

The Article: "Group to take Odi killings to international court"

A Nigerian human rights group said on the third anniversary of the invasion by the military of the southern town of Odi that it had documented enough evidence to lodge a case at the International Criminal Court.

Environmental Rights Action (ERA), which is affiliated to the global Friends of the Earth, said President Olusegun Obasanjo, who ordered the attack, General Victor Malu - who was army chief at the time - and soldiers who participated in the attack on Odi on 20 November 1999 were guilty of crimes against humanity.

Odi was destroyed in the attack, ordered in response to the killing of 12 policemen by local militants. According to the ERA report titled 'A Blanket of Silence: Images of Odi Genocide', 2,483 people from 109 families were killed in the raid, after which only a bank and a church were left standing.

The report was presented by the group's director, Oronto Douglas, at a commemorative rally in the town.

"We have come to the conclusion that what happened in Odi was a crime against humanity," Douglas said. "The Geneva Convention and other such international instruments do not condone crimes against humanity. We have documented and compiled a justification to bring those who visited the atrocities on Odi before the International Criminal Court."

Nigeria's Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, had defended the Odi invasion as aimed at protecting oil operations in the southern Niger Delta region. Over the past decade militants have routinely attacked the operations of international oil companies to back demands for access to more oil wealth and amenities for their impoverished communities.

A year after the attack on Odi, Obasanjo visited the town and acknowledged that the soldiers had gone "beyond their brief". But, ERA said, he offered neither an apology nor compensation to the community.

The group said it would start a case against Malu, who was retired last year, and the soldiers who participated in the mission. It said it would await the end of Obasanjo's tenure in office to sue him.

Obasanjo has also been blamed for ordering a similar attack in central state of Benue last year after a local militia killed 19 soldiers sent to halt ethnic clashes there. Hundreds of people were killed and scores of houses destroyed, including that of Malu.

11 / 21 / 2002 

IRIN The Article: "Muslims protest against news report"

Groups of Muslim demonstrators in Nigeria's northern Kaduna State staged violent protests on Wednesday and Thursday over what they deemed an offensive reference to the Prophet Mohammed by a national daily, residents said.

Residents said more than 500 angry people invaded the office of "Thisday" daily on Wednesday morning and set it ablaze. No one was reported injured. The violence continued on Thursday with the burning of some churches and damaging of cars by the protesters.

"Yesterday the Kaduna office was burned down. Today several churches have been set alight in the mainly Muslim areas of the city," Jonah Bako, a resident, told IRIN.

The protesters were apparently angered by a report in Thisday's Saturday edition on the Miss World Beauty contest being hosted by Nigeria. The report contained a comment dismissing Muslim opposition to the contest by suggesting Prophet Mohammed would have probably chosen one of the beauty queens as a wife.

Thisday subsequently ran front-page apologies to Muslims saying the comments were published in error after they had been removed by the supervising editor.

But the anger appeared to have deepened after clerics condemned the newspaper at mosques and urged prayers for its downfall. Residents of Kaduna said vendors have since stopped displaying Thisday for sale.

Tension has since mounted in the city, populated by roughly equal numbers of Muslims and non-Muslims. Policemen deployed to the streets in large numbers to stop the violence from further escalating fought with angry mobs throwing stones and bottles. Unconfirmed reports said a number of people had been killed.

More than 2,000 people died in the city in 2000 in clashes between Muslims and Christians over an attempt by the state government to introduce strict Islamic law.

A dozen states in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north have introduced the strict Islamic or Shar'iah legal code in the past three years.

The Miss World contest has been steeped in controversy as a result of across the world for a boycott in protest against the sentencing to death of a woman, Amina Lawal, for having a baby out of wedlock. More than 90 contestants arrived in Nigeria last week to start the contest after the Nigerian federal government gave assurances it would not allow the stoning sentences to be carried out.

Many Muslims have expressed anger that the contest, describing it as "a parade of nudity" and offensive to their religious sensibilities. The contestants are currently on a tour of the mainly Christian south, while the contest itself is scheduled for 7 December in the capital, Abuja.

There were fears that the violence in kaduna might spread to the volatile city of Kano and other mainly Muslim towns farther north.

11 / 19 / 2002 

IRIN The Article: "Human Rights Watch testifies on Benue killings"

Human Rights Watch, the US-based international human rights group on Monday began testifying in Nigeria on the massacre of hundreds of civilians by the military during ethnic clashes last year in the country's central region.

The group's Nigeria researcher, Carina Tertsakian, appeared before a government commission in the capital, Abuja, to defend its report holding the military culpable for reprisal attacks against unarmed civilians after 19 soldiers were killed by a local militia.

The commission, headed by Okwuchukwu Opene, a judge of Nigeria's federal high court, was appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo to probe the causes of the ethnic conflicts which have wracked Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau states in the last two years.

Tertsakian defended the rights group against suggestions by the counsel to the security forces, Bello Fadile, that its report blaming soldiers for killing over 200 civilians of the Tiv community was full of "fabrications" and "half-truths".

"The operations in Benue State were well planned," she said. "All the witnesses we interviewed confirmed that the military operatives came in large numbers and the command structure of those who executed the killings was perfect, showing that the authorities gave their blessings."

Despite overwhelming evidence that soldiers carried out the killings, the military authorities in Nigeria have yet to officially accept responsibility for the massacre.

Obasanjo initially defended the deployment of the soldiers to the region where Tivs and their Jukun neighbours were locked in conflict over land disputes. But last month he apologised to a delegation from Benue State on a courtesy visit to the presidential residence for the killings.

The Benue killings and a similar attack also ordred by the government in Odi town, in the southern oil region in 1999, were among reasons given by federal legislators for their move to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.

The testimony of Human Rights Watch is expected to last two days.

11 / 18 / 2002 

IRIN The Article: "Blast rocks newspaper office in central region"

At least five people were seriously injured when explosions rocked the offices of a newspaper in Nigeria's central region city of Ilorin on Friday.

Journalists of the National Pilot were busy working on the paper's weekend edition when explosions shook the building in a suspected bomb attack, forcing the roof of the building to cave in. Five people, including a woman and four men were seriously injured.

Police spokesman, Chris Olakpe, who confirmed the incident, said bomb experts had started investigations to determine the cause of the blasts. He also denied earlier media reports that five people had been killed in the incident.

But Yomi Olabanji, editor-in-chief of the newspaper told reporters he suspected explosives had been flung on the roof of the building by some assailants. "I was in my office at about 2.25 pm working when I heard a deafening explosion," he said. "The thing just came from the roof top. Somebody could have flung them there and run away."

There is widespread belief among the newspaper's journalists that its role in opposition against the Kwara State government may have made it the target of violent attacks by those hurt by its criticisms.

The National Pilot is owned by Olusola Saraki, a former presidential aspirant in the All Nigeria People's Party, who leads a faction of the ruling party in the state opposed to governor Mohammed Lawal.

Kwara has witnessed some of the worst political violence growing in Nigeria ahead of next year's elections. In August Ahmad Pategi the state chairman of President Olusegun Obasanjo's ruling People Democratic Party was assassinated by unknown gunmen.

11 / 14 / 2002 

IRIN

The article: "Obasanjo pardons former secessionist soldiers"

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has pardoned 80 ex-soldiers who fought against the federal government during the 1967-70 Biafra War.

The decision was announced on Tuesday at the end of a meeting of the National Council of State, which comprises the president and governors of the country 36 states.

The main beneficiaries were soldiers who had left the Nigerian armed forces to join the army of the shortlived republic of Biafra.

"This pardon wipes out the stigma of dismissal," said Ogun State Governor Segun Osoba, who briefed reporters at the end of the meeting. The soldiers were also restored to their former ranks, making them eligible for retirement benefits 32 years after the end of the civil war.

Southeastern Nigeria, then governed by Col Emeka Ojukwu, declared itself an independent state called Biafra following massacres in northern Nigeria in which tens of thousands of people, mainly Igbos from the southeast, lost their lives.

Thirty-six months of fighting followed and more than one million people, mostly Igbos, died in what was then described as Africa's worst modern war. Ojukwu himself was pardoned in 1981. That enabled him to return to Nigeria after a 10-year exile in Cote d'Ivoire.[ENDS]

"Senate committee issues recommendation on border dispute"

Nigeria's Senate on Wednesday adopted a recommendation by its special committee that the government prepare the country's armed forces for war over a border dispute with neighbouring Cameroon.

The recommendation by the senate committee on public petitions followed complaints by legislators representing the disputed Bakassi Peninsula, awarded to Cameroon on 10 October by the International Court of Justice. President Olusegun Obasanjo's government rejected the ruling.

"While a diplomatic solution is being sought," the report said, "efforts should not only be made to strengthen our military presence in Bakassi, everything must be done to make Nigeria combat ready."

The senate also urged that funds be made available to the foreign ministry to evacuate Nigerians living in Cameroon, whom it estimated at four million, "in the unfortunate event of war".

Obasanjo said on Monday he would meet Cameroon's President Paul Biya in Geneva on Friday to seek a solution to the dispute over the oil-rich peninsula. The meeting, at the initiative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, would be the first between the two leaders since the ICJ ruling.

Troops from both countries have clashed on occasion in the disputed frontier territory in the past decade. Tension has remained high in the area since the ICJ ruling ended an eight-year legal battle. [ENDS]

"Seven shot in clash with security forces"

Seven people were shot dead this week in a clash with security forces in Nigeria's central Plateau State, news organisations reported.

According to the BBC, they were the first victims of a shoot-on-sight policy introduced two weeks ago by the state governor in an attempt to curb ethnic and religious violence that has lasted in the state for a year.

BBC quoted a police official in the state capital, Jos, as saying that the deaths occurred after persons yet to be identified fired on a patrolling police officers, who then retaliated.

Jos State's longstanding reputation for peace was shattered in September 2001 by a major eruption of violence between Christian indigenes and Muslim settlers. More than 1,000 people died in a week of violence. Since then the state has been the scene of a low-intensity conflict, in which more than 200 people are estimated to have died.

11 / 11 / 2002 

IRIN

The Article: "Supreme Court gives green light to new parties"

Nigeria's Supreme Court has unanimously thrown out several guidelines used by the country's electoral body to deny registration to five political parties.

The court's seven judges, led by Chief Justice Mohammed Uwais, ruled that 11 of 18 conditions imposed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the registration of political parties were unconstitutional.

"The registration of political parties in Nigeria is governed by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," Uwais said.

Under the constitution, a political party is only required to submit to INEC copies of its logo and constitution, along with the addresses of its offices and principal officials.

In June 2002, INEC had registered only three of 24 political parties seeking to contest elections due next year. They reasons it gave for rejecting the others included the fact that they did not have offices in at least 24 of Nigeria's 36 states.

Five of the parties challenged INEC in an appeal court and won, but the commission filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. Following Friday's ruling, officials of the five parties said they intended to seek certificates of registration from INEC.

"Now the impediments have been removed we are deemed registered," Gani Fawehinmi, lawyer for the parties and leader of the National Conscience Party, told reporters. "I am happy that the Supreme Court has enfranchised millions of Nigerians.

The Article: "No deaths by stoning, government official says"

Nigeria's government has said it will not allow people to be stoned to death on the order of Sharia courts.

Junior Minister of Foreign Affairs Dubem Onyia said in a statement on Friday that the government was aware of widespread international concern over recent death sentences imposed by Islamic courts and would "use its constitutional powers to thwart any negative ruling which is deemed injurious to its people".

"We restate that no person shall be condemned to death by stoning in Nigeria," he said.

Nigeria has come under severe international pressure for the sentences, especially after a 31-year-old mother, Amina Lawal, was condemned to be stoned to death for adultery. This year's Miss World beauty pageant, scheduled to be held in Nigeria in December, has faced boycotts by many would-be contestants in protest against the sentence.

A total of 12 states in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north have adopted Islamic law in the past three years. Two other people have appealed against death sentences for adultery and one for rape.

Nigeria's federal government has repeatedly condemned the sentences as unconstitutional but had declined to intervene in deference to the country's federal system. The latest statement is the strongest indication yet that it is ready to stop the sentences from being carried out.

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Other data on Nigeria / Autres données sur le Nigéria