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Nigeria Election Strife Targets Christians

ICC Note

“Your prayers are urgently needed for Nigeria as post-election violence has spread to three northern states. Christian communities in these areas are particularly vulnerable,”

04/21/2011 Nigeria (BP)–Nigeria’s government imposed curfews and created a special commission to investigate violence that has targeted Christian homes, businesses and churches after a northern Muslim was defeated in the country’s April 16 presidential election.

Supporters of Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who polled about 31 percent in the balloting, took to the streets in four states of northern Nigeria, according to media reports. Buhari supporters lodged complaints of vote rigging even before election results were announced. After reports that incumbent Goodluck Jonathan received 57 percent of the vote, gangs of Buhari supporters launched looting and burning sprees.

The violence killed at least 120 people, injured hundreds and displaced thousands, the Reuters news service reported.

Some of the violence has targeted Christians, who are especially easy targets in the country’s predominantly Muslim northern states, according to a statement from the Christian Solidarity Worldwide human rights organization.

“Your prayers are urgently needed for Nigeria as post-election violence has spread to three northern states. Christian communities in these areas are particularly vulnerable,” CSW said. “The Anglican Bishop Henry Ndukuba of Gombe and his family had to be escorted to their home by two squads of armed police after their Sunday church service. Supporters of the Congress for Progressive Change have been burning churches and vicarages and looting Christian business since Saturday evening, with ‘al majeris’ [Islamic students], who are minors, spearheading the attack in order to deter a more robust official response.”

At least two churches have been burned and Christian homes and businesses were looted in Kaduna and Zaria, the CSW statement said. One man reportedly was murdered in Zaria as he tried to stop a mob from burning a church.

Jonathan announced April 21 that voting for governor and state assembly positions in its 36 states would continue on April 26 as planned, with security forces mobilized to guarantee free and orderly elections, news services reported. He also announced a judicial commission would be set up to investigate the causes of the violence.

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