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Religious riot in Bauchi

ICC Note

Following religious violence in mainly Islamic State of Bacuhi in Nigeria , the State government established a panel to investigate causes of the violence. But instead of admitting the fact that introduction of Sharia law in the State is the cause of religious riots in the State, the Muslim governor of the State is insisting that the main cause behind the violence is the activities of opposition politicians.

By Punch Editorial Board

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 Nigeria (Punch)-Following the violent religious riot that broke out at a secondary school in Kagadama, Bauchi State, the Bauchi State government, as usual, has set up a 13-member committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the violence. While commenting on the riot, Governor Isa Yuguda took pains to deny any religious motive to the violence, insisting that the crisis was sponsored and instigated by his political enemies.

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But Bauchi State has always been a hotbed of religious extremists. In April 1991, the National Sports Festival hosted by the state was cancelled following riots which led to the death of many innocent citizens and destruction of properties worth millions of Naira. In 1995, there was another round of blood-letting. Many lives were lost and property destroyed in 2003 during violent religious crises. A controversial Danish cartoon also sparked off violent protests in Bauchi and other volatile states in 2006.

At the heart of the perennial religious violence is the reckless infringement on the secularity of the Nigerian state by the government. Though Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution clearly prohibits state religion, all levels of government in the country still indulge in the unconstitutional policy of sponsoring Christians and Muslims on pilgrimage.

In 2001, the Bauchi State Government had set up an Islamic court in the predominantly Christian community of Tafawa Balewa town and then ordered all nurses to wear Islamic dress in 2002. In the latest religious violence, a mosque was approved for construction in a government school attended by students from diverse religious backgrounds.

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The Bauchi State Government has taken a false and futile step by setting up a probe panel on the riot. Religious mayhem has persisted because such committees have always failed to apprehend and punish the blood-thirsty fanatics. The issues involved in the Kagadama religious uprising are clear cases of murder, arson and conspiracy, and should be treated as such.

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