Nigeria Election: Kano’s Christian Exodus

ICC Note: Thousands of Christians are fleeing Kano, majority-Muslim city in Nigeria’s north ahead of tomorrow’s presidential election, fearing attacks. Most Christians reside in a suburb of Kano called Sabon Gari, but are now headed south and east remembering that more than 800 people died and 700 churches were burned across the country during post-election violence in 2011. Experts predict Christians will be singled out for attack regardless of the outcome of the election.

By Lucy Fleming

3/26/2015 Kano, Nigeria (BBC) – An exodus from the mainly Christian quarter of Kano, the commercial centre of northern Nigeria, is taking place ahead of elections this weekend, because of fears of violence.

The main bus station in the Sabon Gari suburb is chaotic as thousands of people cram onto coaches heading to the east or south-west of the country.

“Kano is now closing for business because of the fear of the unknown,” says the chairman of the bus station.

They are anxious to avoid a repeat of the communal violence that followed the vote in 2011 when those from different ethnic or religious groups were singled out for attack, while many northerners in the south are also heading home.

This year most residents of the mainly Muslim city are supporters of opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner; the people of Sabon Gari are regarded as supporters of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian southerner.

The Igbo community, who make up the majority in the Kano suburb set aside for non-Muslim residents, has already shrunk considerably in the last few years because of an Islamist insurgency in the north-east.

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