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Nigeria : The Central Government Fiddles While the North Burns

Elizabeth Kendall
WEA

For decades after independence Nigeria was ruled by a succession of
military dictators who were predominantly northern Muslims. In 1998
the death of dictator General Sani Abacha paved the way for
democracy to be restored, and in February 1999 Olusegun Obasanjo was
democratically elected President of Nigeria after winning 63 percent
of the vote.
However, the election of the southern Christian inflamed many
northern Muslim elites and former power-brokers. To regain their
status, power and influence, northern governors exploited the
poverty, hardship and ignorance of their constituents and
re-invented themselves as religious reformers raising Islam and
Sharia (Islamic Law) as banners of hope. (Note: these same
“religious reformers” had not been concerned about Islam or Sharia
while Nigeria was ruled by northern Muslims.) All across
predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria , the flames of Islamic zeal
were fanned. In the northern states of Kano and Kwara, moves were
made to relocate and raze churches, while Zamfara, led by governor
Alhaji Ahmad Sani, declared itself to be an Islamic state. In
January 2000, Zamfara became the first Nigerian state to officially
implement Sharia Law.
President Obasanjo and Nigeria ‘s attorney general declared the
implementation of Sharia Law “unconstitutional and illegal”. But
that did not prevent other norther states following in Zamfara’s
footsteps. The central (religious fault-line) belt of Nigeria tore
apart as riots and conflicts erupted over Sharia and claimed
thousands of lives. By August 2000, eight northern states had defied
Nigeria ‘s secular Constitution and implemented Sharia Law.
Today, in what is essentially a defiant act of secession, Nigeria ‘s
12 northern states are all under Sharia. What’s worse, the Sharia
states are able to exploit and abuse their citizens and deny them
their constitutional rights, without consequence, as the central
government timidly acquiesces, surrendering religious liberty and
Christian security in exchange for peace with northern Muslim elites.
Nigeria ‘s central government needs to move decisively to protect the
lives and restore the constitutional rights of Christians in the
north, and bring the northern Muslim masses on side so that justice,
equity and national unity can be restored with minimal bloodshed.
The following posting is a Compass Direct Flash News written by
Obed Minchakpu in Nigeria . It is an excellent article and I am
forwarding it in full. Minchakpu details some of the severe
persecution faced by Christians in the northern state of Zamfara,
including the systematic discrimination against them, the systematic
demolition of their churches, and the suffering they caused by the
imposition of Sharia Law which is enforced by the state’s Hisbah
Commission. This includes a moving testimony from one Christian
convert from Islam.