REFLECTIONS ON ISLAM AND CO-EXISTENCE IN THE UPPER CROSS RIVER REGION OF NIGERIA
Situated within the Cross River State of Nigeria, the Upper Cross River area covers the northern half of Cross River State comprising Ugep, Obubra, Ikom, Ogoja and Obudu divisions. Bounded in the North by the Benue region, West by Ebonyi and Enugu states and East by the Republic of Cameroon, this unique setting experienced colonial rule. The legacies of colonial rule made the region a homogenous Christian entity. Islamic jihad never penetrated this region being a predominant Christian enclave and due to the fragmentary political leadership. However, after the 1967 civil war, pockets of Islamic traders, clerics and business men widely famed for their entrepreneurial skills and wide commercial networks settled to do business. They began to spread their faith in the region but could not establish large empires as in Kanem-Bornu. Some familiarized themselves with the culture of the indigenous people. They won converts not by force, for people here did not rush to renounce their traditional faith and Christian orientation. Community leaders did not abandon the old verities which bound traditional society in the region together. The pattern was often a pragmatic choice- accepting the best of the faiths resulting in peaceful co-existence and assured social harmony in the region. Pockets of Islamic converts could be found in Ogoja, Obudu and some strategic commercial locations in the region. Against this back-drop, the paper examines the co-existence of Islam in the upper Cross River region and the impact made economically, culturally and religiously on peoples of the region.
The Upper Cross River Region of Nigeria (UCRR) is the most representative of religious balance in the Nigerian polity. Here one finds an excellent rapprochement and mutual cohabitation between the religions operating notably Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religions (atheism or animism), pointing to the ultimate hope of religious tolerance in the country. Religion be it Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity or African Traditional Religion is generally understood to mean the effort of man to establish and maintain contact with God. It offers explanations for certain incomprehensible phenomenon in life and has since become a major source of influence in the body politics of any nation.
Religion has the institutional power to either unite or divide any nation. It is volatile and so, if it is properly harnessed, could play a pro-active, beneficial role in consolidating. If not properly handled, it could also constitute itself into a tool of political instability. In the Republic of Benin, during Archbishop de souza’s transition Programme; in Poland during the communist rule; South Africa during the struggle against apartheid; and in the Sudan, religion served as a tool of crises and instability. Early immigrants to North America were victims of religious persecution and the United States of America today, owes its very foundation to the quest for religious freedom (Okon: 2005).
It is evident that the sub-continent of India and Pakistan divided itself due to religious intolerance. During President Obasanjo’s first four years in office (1999 - 2003), well over 10,000 people died in religious clashes provoked mostly by marginalized politicians, using cultural divisions and misunderstandings to destabilize the country. A careful review of the degree of ethno-religious conflicts in some parts of Northern Nigeria till date, smacks off apathy in the minds of well-meaning citizens of this nation. Perhaps these explanations may find some justification in President Gaddafi’s recent unguarded utterance to split Nigeria into two countries for fear of an impending catastrophe. Although this has been globally condemned as obnoxious and against the ethics of international peace and unity, there remains but a hard nut to crack in his assertion.
Taking a cue from historical antecedents worldwide, it would be timely to learn from the experiences of other nations and advocate for the continued mutual relations between religions in the region of our study- the UCRR.
THE UPPER CROSS RIVER ENVIRONMENT
The Upper Cross River Region- UCRR- is situated within the present Cross River State of Nigeria. For clarity of purpose, the area under consideration shall cover the entire northern half of Cross River State comprising Ugep, Obubra, Ikom, Ogoja, Obudu administrative divisions (Jaja et al: 1990) and the adjoining Benue region. Precisely, the area stretches north to the Benue region, bounded west by Ebonyi and Enugu states and in the east by the Republic of Cameroon.
The geography of the region greatly influenced the pattern of trade in the past and now. Located in the rain forest, the rainfall pattern is usually high giving the region its vegetation cover. Over the years, the vegetation has been increasingly modified by human settlement activities and the original rain forest has been replaced by oil palm bush in the west, and savannah in the north. The area experiences a hot humid climate with some areas blessed with abundant rainfall than others. Such distributions led to occupational specialization in the area of hunting, farming, trading, craftwork and other exchange relations. The economic advantages presented by the forest cover in the region cannot be over-emphasized for the traditional economy and agriculture in the area is of antiquity, as old as the settlement itself (Latham: 1973).
The Cross River, the main physical backbone of the region, posed no noticeable barrier to human movement and commercial activities across the region and environs right from pre-colonial times (Ikime: 1980; Erim: 1990). Being the main artery of communication, the river and its tributaries served the needs of the people by linkages internally and with neighbouring regions contrary to the needs and expectations of 19th century Europeans who visited the area (Afigbo: 1990). The unity of the waterway, topography and ecology of the region encouraged fluidity of the environment. This unique setting experienced colonial rule under the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. Apparently, the Eastern Region of Nigeria ranked as the only region that was not touched by the 19th century Islamic jihad. So peace had long endured in this region, until the colonial wars of conquest. Attempts to subjugate units in this region witnessed the influx of agents forming the nucleus for the emergence of Muslim populations here before and after the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war in 1967.
It is however remarkable to note that during almost a century of colonial rule in the area, the people were predominantly Christian in religious orientation while others remained traditionalists, but essentially tolerant of other faiths (Olaniyan: 1982). However, Islam from thenceforth, continued to gain converts in the region with varying degrees of success.
ISLAM: SIGNIFICANT TENETS AND OPINIONS ON THE FAITH
There is a consensus among reputable scholars that Islam is a religion of peace, freedom and human rights. They argue that it means peace and enjoins peaceful co-existence among different creatures. It teaches mankind to be at peace with self, each other and the creator and to be at peace with God, the individual has to submit absolutely to God’s will, recognize His oneness, obey His commands and worship Him as the only one who deserves to be worshipped (Mala: 1992). These references to the concept presuppose genuine intentions among the true worshippers.
Like other great world religions such as Christianity, Buddhism or Confucianism, Islam is doctrinally concerned with ultimate causation, truth and morality and with man’s relation to his creator. The word Islam connotes ‘submission’- absolute submission to the will of God. Muslims generally believe that Allah’s will is enshrined in the Koran for it contains virtually all that a Muslim ought to know and do in order to be accepted as a true believer. In addition to the relationship of man with his creator which is the essence of all religions, (Olaniyan: 1982) the Koran lays emphasis on Muslim law and precept. A morality which ranges from matrimonial, laws and obligations, inheritance laws and laws governing drinking and eating habits, to laws regulating interpersonal relations are clearly spelt out in the Koran- stipulating not only the form of worship but also, a way of life, a culture for the worshippers. It stipulates political ideas used in establishing relationships in a political system based on Islamic beliefs such as existed in the theocracy of Masina (Johnson: 1976). The fact that these can be construed in economic or political terms need not cast aspersions upon the genuineness of the religious basis of the faith. This should be with reference to an ideal Islamic state- a theocracy- and not a ‘multi-religious country’ as Nigeria, with a constitution that, whilst reflecting the expectations of the different faiths, remains essentially secular.
Muslims generally believe Allah’s will is enshrined in the Koran. The memorization of the Koran operates as a basis of the Muslim way of life. Adherents of the faith are required to fulfill major ritual obligations (Fage: 1978; Olaniyan: 1982) as hereunder shown:
i. Believers must affirm the oneness of God Allah, as expressed in the fundamental confession of faith which is the kernel of Muhammad’s teaching preserved in the Koran in Arabic thus- L? il?h? ill? All?hu; Muhammadun ras?lu Allah and interpreted as ‘There is no God but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God.’ Thus the recitation of the Shah?dah is crucial in Islamic worship;
ii. They are obliged to pray to God at five specified times each day facing towards Mecca. There are also congregational prayers on Fridays at midday, led by an Imam;
iii. Obligations of giving alms to the needy now replaced in Muslim communities by the levying of canonical taxes like the Zakat- a tenth of each man’s income for the provision to the poor and needy and for the advancement of Islam and its government;
iv. Muslims like Jews and Christians are enjoined to fast and it is obligatory so to do, between sunrise and sunset during the month of Ramadan;
v. Believers are enjoined to go on pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca at least twice in their lifetime provided they can afford to do so.
These major requirements form the five pillars upon which the Islamic faith is based. Thus once men have submitted to the will of God, they are equal in His sight without any discrimination of status, wealth, kinship or race and this transcends tribal brotherhood to a universal brotherhood.
Historically, Muslims regard their religion as dating from the time of Muhammad in the early 7th century (A.D. 610) (Fage: 1978; Microsoft Encarta: 2005). They see Islam as identical with true monotheism which prophets before Muhammad, such as Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa), and Jesus (Isa) had taught. Followers of these and other prophets, in their conception, corrupted their teachings, but God in his mercy, sent Muhammad to call mankind again to the truth (Microsoft Encarta: 2005). Believers regard Islam as extending over all areas of life and refer to it as more than just a religion (Trimingham: 1965). Law is the predominant expression of Islam. To live a life according to the law has probably been the main religious ideal for most Muslims. In fact more than a billion people in the world today embrace the faith with its rituals and customs associated with festivity. Ramadan in Islam connotes the ninth month of the lunar year, associated with the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad. In this period, there is observance of the annual fast according to the fourth “pillar” of Islam. All Muslims are brought closer together and the mosque becomes the centre for social as well as religious gatherings. The fasting of Ramadan ends with the festival of Id ul- Fitr. There is also Id ul- Adha, the festival of sacrifice commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham in Christianity) willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God.
Although scholars continue to ask crucial questions on who is actually a Muslim; one thing is certain, that certain elements go along with Islamization and are evident whether in the village setting as well as in the town. Since material culture is closely allied with religious differentiation, they opine that one’s conduct determines
“If a man is naked or semi-naked, he is a Pagan; if he wears a robe or gown, he is a Muslim; if he puts on shorts or trousers, he is a Christian. If he urinates squatting, he is a Muslim; if standing, a Pagan or a Christian” (Trimingham: 1976).
These identification marks in terms of habits and refinement of manners assist a careful observer to differentiate between a Muslim, Pagan or Christian.
In another perspective, a school of thought emphasizes on the legal codes of Islam, the Sharia as a strong criteria in ascertaining who is actually a true Muslim and so questions:
Is a man a Muslim once the Sharia has been set up as the legal and political system under which he must live? Is he a Muslim as soon as he abandons his traditional forms of dress and adopts Muslim clothes? (Hiskett: 1984).
However, there is more to the clothes a man wears for the particular clothes an individual chooses to put on may be a personal choice and not a conviction. The answer most frequently provided to this issue is that a man becomes a Muslim as soon as he has recited the Shah?da and accepted it in his heart. But then who can actually comprehend what another man accepts in his heart except God? (Hiskett: 1984). The Muslim reformer, Shehu Usumanu dan Fodio made several attempts to define a Muslim in the confusing circumstances of mixing that he found in Hausa land.
Conviction rather than violence is crucial in embracing any faith. Individual reasoning can lead one whether Christian, animist or atheist to believe that there can be only one God; and that God must be All?h; that All?h surely has means of communicating with man and therefore Muhammad and not another was the messenger of All?h. Pondering along these lines, the person is convinced to adopt any faith of his choice. It is this intellectual conviction which is gradual and deep, not sporadic and violent that is important. This persuasive factor is quite significant in integrating non-converts into a new culture and the concept. Culture, “sui generius” depicts a civilization, a way of life, a survival technique by a people in an environment. Noting the imperfections of culture worldwide, that no culture is perfect or error-proof, (Olughu: 2004) the Islamic culture or any other can register an enduring legacy in any cultural milieu. There have been Muslims in Nigeria as far back as the 12th century. Scholars from northern Africa making their way across the trade routes of the Sahara desert brought with them Islamic culture and learning. Over subsequent centuries, waves of Islamic ‘jihads’ swept through the semi-desert regions of West Africa, from Senegal across to Northern Nigeria.
CO-EXISTENCE IN THE UPPER CROSS RIVER REGION: AN OVERVIEW
The Upper Cross River area of Nigeria defined in the introductory aspect of this work serves as an excellent example or a convenient model for the study of mutual religious co-existence between Islamic adherents and members of other faiths. Given the incessant carnages produced by various ethno-religious and communal crises witnessed since the return of the country to civilian rule (Akinwumi: 2009) and the damages on material resources near impossible to quantify, (see Appendix II) it is however intriguing to note that the presence of Islam in this area has rather been a blessing to the society at large. Adherents of different faiths in the UCR region- Christianity, Islam, African Traditional religions- have over the years respected and tolerated each other’s differences and nurtured what might be termed ‘cultural cross fertilization’ where religious and linguistic elements are utilized harmoniously to create a bridge among the ethnic groups in the area (Hamman: 2003) notably Muslim, Yakurr, Bakor, Agbo, Mbembe, Yala, Ejagham, Etung, Obudu and others respectively. These mutual links are facilitated by several factors such as differences in natural endowment, relative economic advantages, diplomatic relations, exogamous marriages, emigration etc.
Traders engaged in commercial activities in the region play a significant role in creating understanding among the groups and by extension help to concretize integration. For instance, Muslim traders in the UCRR have been able to benefit tremendously from profit accruing from commercial transactions there. Muslims who trade on cattle, wears, other goods have interrelated with peoples of the region such that Muslim traders and businessmen conducting trade in the area transfer some aspects of their culture such as dress, language, to the indigenes thereby gaining willing converts of the faith. Pockets of Muslims have settled in the process, in the Obudu, Ogoja, Ikom, Yakurr and adjoining areas to carry out their businesses peacefully without interference or any form of violence. Today, Islamic traders, adherents of the faith, and businessmen could be found in the UCR area co-existing peacefully. Indigenes of the region in turn accommodate them as partners in progress without any fears. It is evident that links have been cemented to the extent of culminating into integration. Businessmen famed for their entrepreneurial skills and wide commercial networks are settled in the region. For example Muslim merchants here purchase palm oil in large quantities for export abroad thus stimulating oil palm production for economic advantage among the units. In this way, they have opened and expanded vigorous trading activities in palm oil and other natural products for the area thereby boosting the economy of the region positively. This picture is similar to what existed in the pre-colonial setting where Nigeria’s pre-colonial empires, kingdoms and chiefdoms harboured people of different ethnic backgrounds welded together under a single polity (Erim: 1984). The mutual co-existence being enjoyed between Islamic and adherents of other faiths in the region can serve as a pointer to the ultimate unity desired in the country for this had existed before and is worth recapitulating
The primary sources of our history showed that the fluid boundaries of the ethnic groups of Nigeria; even before the 18th century were very rarely coterminus with the boundaries of the polities, intensive migration, extensive networks of division of labour and commerce did not allow for the emergence of ethnically monolithic polities (Usman: 1994).
Through mutual co-existence of this nature such as existing between the faiths in the UCRR of Nigeria, the nation could easily be wielded together for mutual benefits. After all, it is on record that the clandestine ambition of the colonialists sowed the seeds of disunity and discord among Nigerians who hitherto had interacted and interrelated harmoniously with each other in pre-colonial times (Wada: 2000).
Co-existence is a mutual opening of persons to each other, arising from the desire to learn from one another and to be enriched by it (Nwosu: 2009). The religious and social harmony enjoyed by Muslims, Christians and Africanists alike in the UCRR provides a unique picture and stands out in the midst of the recurring religious crises in Nigeria. Peoples of this region have been able to co-operate in this multi-religious environment through witnessing, dialogue and respectful listening ears. For the fact that God gives His providential signs for believers of the major religions in this country to give themselves up to God, it challenges all to respect one another. Hence awareness readily brings to light true similarities and differences which will unite rather than divide the people, transforming human existence. Perhaps the wise counsel of the late Premier of Northern Nigeria Sir Ahmadu Bello in a meeting with Dr Azikiwe in the 1960s, comes in handy here
…no let us understand our differences. I am a Muslim, and a Northerner. You are a Christian and an Easterner. By understanding our differences, we can build unity in our country… (Paden: 1986).
This statement leads to the ultimate path of mutual co-existence between adherents of the faiths in Nigeria and has been already projected by those in the UCRR. Adherents of the major religions in the country should emulate dialogue and understanding as the way forward to build a virile nation of ours. They should cultivate and imbibe the peaceful virtues of African religions if our nascent democracy is not to be truncated owing to the influence of religions (Anyam and Adega: 2009).
In Yakurr speaking areas of Ugep, Ekori, Mkpani, Nko, Idomi, Agoi, Assiga and Nyiama respectively, Muslims are found. They reside in Ugep, the headquarters of the local government area and also in Nko. They have mosques in the towns. According to Ubana,
Among these towns, Muslims are found… Muslims have been…co-existing in these towns for quite a number of years peacefully. Indeed, Muslims in Yakurr (most especially Ugep), could pass for indigenes…their activities and influence permeate…the communities they are found (Interview with Ubana: 2010)
These Muslims are widely spread in the area doing their various economic transactions ranging from cattle rearing, butchering and selling of meat, tailoring, trading on perishable goods like onion, carrot, ginger, garlic, kola nut, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. They also make embroidery wears, native and richly designed caps, kaftans, brocades of various types and designs. The actual range of goods they trade on in the entire area, defy classification but suffice it to say that these adherents are widely spread in all the units in the region of our study and adjoining regions. Another informant supports Ubana’s view maintaining that
Generally the number of Moslems in Yakurr are Moslems from different states of the Federation comprising the nomadic groups, soya sellers, Abokis who are from Niger Republic, who as a result of their trade migrate along with their religion and reside in the area, practicing their religion (Interview with Akawu: 2010).
Adherents of the faith in this area are pastoral herdsmen, who move their cattle from place to place seeking for pasture to graze on. They practice their religion in keeping with the core tenets of Islam. Although the Yakurr are predominantly Christian, some of them still practice elements of African Traditional Religion. They also practice farming as their major pre-occupation but inspite of these religious and occupational differences between them, it is obvious that they have been able to live together peacefully, co-operating and cohabiting with each other in matters of trade and economy. Factors associated with these are not far-fetched, and include- the religious preaching of love and peace; tolerance based on understanding and cultural assimilation over time between adherents of the faiths. The impact of this co-existence is evident in the area of language, dressing habits, inter-marriages etc. Thus there exists a symbiotic relationship between adherents of faiths in the region. My informants confirm that many of the Muslims in Ugep speak the Yakurr language fluently and both groups imbibe each other’s way of dressing admirably. Many Yakurr people, especially the Ugep have copied the Muslim Style of slaughtering cows. In the process, they have learnt to accommodate each other’s pattern of worship and cultivate respect for each other’s weaknesses.
Some of the adherents have been transporting their cattle (Nama) from Hausa land via Katsina-Ala to Obudu area from whence they are redistributed in the region to graze and for marketing. Kinsmen of the traders in the area come to work for the traders and reside there transacting a number of businesses, boosting the tempo of economic activities in the entire UCRR. Those who specialize in shoe mending penetrate nooks and corners in the region adding their own quota to economic activities in the region with no reported cases of violence.
They recall that in an instance where skirmishes would naturally have erupted, inbuilt mechanisms in the area prevented such. When some Nko youths killed the cow of a Muslim for grazing over their farmlands, the matter which would have prompted a serious crisis was averted by setting up arbitration panel to settle the matter amicably. This initiative by the people has continued to foster cordial relationships between the host communities and stranger elements (Muslim and other sects) resident in Yakurr and environs. This pattern of accommodating each other’s shortcomings and seeking for the way to settle issues amicably has been identified as one of the crucial factors responsible for mutual co-existence between the faiths in the region.
In Ikom, the same is reported and the numbers there are quite alarming. It is customary that such businessmen do not fail to establish mosques where they worship in accordance with Islamic tenets. Such mosques are usually not established arbitrarily but in agreement with the traditions of the owners of the land. This creates and sustains an understanding between the two cultures making for peace. Muslims worship on Fridays, using a kettle of water for cleaning up their faces and hands before prayers. This character and way of life is understood by the indigenes without feelings of cultural chauvinism against each other. Another informant captures the true picture in Bekwarra area as follows:
In Bekwarra local government area of Cross River State, we only have a few pastoralship (sic) of nomadic Fulani with their cattle in our bush grazing and also observing their daily prayer as directed by Holy Quran. Also the few Hausa traders in Abuochiche, the headquarter of Bekwarra local government built a small mosque near their residence in which all of them come together for their daily worship of Allah. The relationship with Bekwarra people and the Hausa Fulani are cordial (Interview with Enya: 2010).
Despite the fact that the people of the UCRR including the Bekwarra are predominantly Christian in orientation with churches in every village, few practice traditional religion. Within this milieu, Islam has gained a foothold. Enya remarked that as he traveled home months back, he observed quite significantly that some Bekwarra men have been converted into the Islamic faith by resident Muslims in the area. In the process, inter-marriages have resulted, for one of the converts from Bekwarra is married to a Fulani girl with children. The cordial relationship between Islamic adherents in Bekwarra and converts of other faiths is so high that whenever Islamic adherents are eating their meal, they invite their Christian counterparts to join them and vice versa. No incidence of misunderstanding between the faiths existing in the region has been reported here. Members of the same household are free to belong to any faith they like and still cohabit together as brothers. This area therefore represents the best hope for religious tolerance in the state and the country at large. This unique development is similar to what Joseph Kenny observed in the west of Nigeria as reported by Fr. Bekeh U.;
While northern Islam has been firmly reformist and separatist with regard to anything non-Islamic, Yoruba Muslims have been more accommodating. The Yoruba people are first of all Yoruba, secondly Muslim or Christian and lastly Nigerian, so that in one family you can find both Muslims and Christians and some involvement in the traditional religion (www.bekeh.com)
Another notable relationship based on mutual co-existence between Islam and other religious groups could be captured in Benue adjoining the Upper Cross River Region. For ages, adherents of the faiths here have lived peacefully. Muslims are found in large numbers in Makurdi, Vandeikya, Gboko, Katsina-Ala, Otukpo, Abinsi, Guma etc. among the Tiv and Idoma who area predominantly Christian in orientation. They have been able to co-exist peacefully without crises. These Muslims have their quarters and mosques in these areas where they conduct worship on stipulated days without molestation. The Muslims’ Pilgrim Welfare Board is located in Makurdi (Anyam and Adega: 2009). In addition, media houses like Radio Benue and NTA Makurdi broadcast Islamic programmes in their channels which serve to entertain, educate and inform members. NTA Calabar, within the Cross River Region, also organizes Islamic programmes of this nature viewed by all within the UCRR and environs.
The level of tolerance in Benue is quite significant to the extent that Muslims are represented in council wards like Wadata and North Bank area in Makurdi and Abinsi in Guma local government. This laudable attainment in the political and other spheres is worth emulating by other states in the Federation.
Nigeria is religiously pluralistic and this characteristic nature of the country has exposed some myopic people to various crises rather than unite them. Adherents of the multiple religions in some parts of the country have utilized this weakness to fan embers of disunity and discrimination among the people thereby threatening peaceful co-existence and interaction in the country. Over the years, this volatile issue and attendant implications pose a threat to our corporate existence and truncates our nascent democracy. For lasting peace and sustainable development in the nation, there is a dire need by other states in the Federation, to emulate and replicate the example of the UCRR of Nigeria as a convenient model for mutual co-existence between Islam and the faiths in Nigeria.
There is need to borrow extensively from the values of our pre-colonial setting and that of African Traditional religious virtues which made for accommodation, mutual respect for each other and tolerance among adherents of faiths. Conversion to Islam or other faiths should be through individual convictions and not by coercion. A more humane social order is advocated for in the nation through increased utilization of the intellectual resources in the land and by encouraging research in these areas. Such results would in the main, assist in solving some problems facing our nation.
Nigerians should be mobilized along religious, ethnic and cultural lines in the task of overall national development. The dysfunctional tendency of ethnocentricism should be discouraged completely and de-emphasized in all matters of national interest and efforts should be geared towards reflecting cross-cultural awareness in the Nigerian curriculum to enhance greater solidarity between ethnic, political and religious lines.
In summary, a forum for dialogue at both local, state and federal levels among the groups be created, for dialogue will assist in instituting accommodation, religious tolerance, understanding and mutual co-existence among the ethnic groups. Stringent enactments are also required to enforce this status quo and stem the tide of religious violence in the country.
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The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information
Section 38(1) A899
Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; including freedom to change his religion or belief; and freedom (either alone or in community with others and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance…
Selected Cases of Ethno-Religious Conflicts in Some Parts of Nigeria: 1980 - 2010
S/N GROUPS INVOLVED LOCATION OUTCOME
1. Maitatsine followers- Dec. 1980 Municipal Kano 4, 177 persons died, over 146 houses, 436 shops and 554 kiosks completely destroyed
2. Maitatsine escapee
Disciples- 16th Oct. 1982 Bullumkutu, Borno State 5,000 people died, 1,712 rendered homeless; N2.3 million worth of personal property destroyed; N1.2 million estimated value of houses damaged
3. Maitatsine disciples- 20th Oct. 1982 Rigassa village, Kaduna State 52 persons killed
4. Muslims vs. Christians- 30th Oct. 1982 Kano 3 Churches set on fire, 2 burnt down completely, 6 others severely damaged
5. Maitatsine disciples 1984 Jimeta- Yola 1,000 people died, property worth N5 million destroyed while 5,913 people displaced
6. Maitatsine disciples- April 1985 Gombe Colossal loss of lives and property
7. Christians vs. Muslims- April, 1986 Ilorin Metropolis Destruction of lives and property
8. Christians vs Muslims- March, 1987
Students of College of Education, Kafanchan Kafanchan Town Colossal loss of lives and property
9. Muslims vs. Christians- 1990 Kano Many people killed and several others injured. Property worth millions of naira vandalized.
10. Muslim Youths- Oct. 14, 1990 Kano Many lives lost
11. Muslims vs. Christians- April, 1991 Das and Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi State More than 200 people killed, churches, mosques, residential and commercial buildings destroyed.
12. Muslims vs. Christians- 1992 Zango-Kataf and environs, Kaduna State Hundreds of people killed. Properties destroyed
13. Muslims vs. Christians- May, 30th 1995 Kano City 17 persons killed
14. Yoruba Traditional Worshippers vs. Minority Hausa Groups- July 1999 Sagamu, Ogun State People killed and property worth millions of naira destroyed
15. Muslims vs. Christians- 21/22 February, 2001 Kaduna Metropolis An estimated number of 3,000 people lost their lives
16. Igbo Christians against Hausa- February, 2001 Aba, Abia State 450 persons killed in retaliatory attacks
17. Muslims vs. Christians- May, 2000 Kaduna State Over 1,500 people killed and property worth millions of naira destroyed
18. Muslims vs. Christians- 19th July, 2001 Tafawa Balewa Local Government, Bauchi State Over 100 persons killed
19. Christians and Hausa/ Fulani Muslims- September 7, 2001 Jos and the Jos crises has been a recurring issue till date- 2010 Over 1,000 lives lost, about 1,000 others injured and property worth millions of naira destroyed
20. Muslims vs. Christians- 12th October, 2001 Kano City 150 persons killed
21. Muslims vs. Christians- May 22-23, 2002 Kaduna metropolis Over 3,000 lives lost
22. 22nd November, 2002 Kaduna City Over 200 people killed and several buildings burnt
23. Maitatsine Sect- December, 2003 Kanamma town in Yobe State 2 Policemen, 2 civilians were killed and police station burnt down
24. Hausa/Muslim militants- February, 2004 Yelwa Shendam LGA, Plateau State About 48 persons murdered in a church
25. Christian Groups- May 2 - 4, 2004 Yelwa Shendam LGA, Plateau State Between 500 to 600 people mostly Muslims were massacred, 49 vehicles, 210 houses were destroyed in reprisal attacks
26. Christians vs. Muslims- June, 2004 Numan Town(Headquarter of Numan LGA), Adamawa State 17 persons killed and some worship centers destroyed
27. Sunni and Shia Muslims- May, 2005 Sokoto State Several people injured
28. Outbreak of the recent Jos crisis between Muslims and Christians- 2009, 2010 1st quarter Jos Incalculable harm and destruction to lives including Youth Corpers on primary assignment, and property