News / Africa

Boko Haram Violence Intensifies Regional Divides in Nigeria

People gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion at the central market, Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 1, 2014.
People gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion at the central market, Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 1, 2014.
Heather Murdock

Some Nigerian leaders say increasing Boko Haram violence is deepening the division between the mostly Muslim north and the mostly Christian south.  Northerners, who live in the south, say that as the violence spreads, southerners are becoming suspicious of northerners in their midst. 

Insurgents began attacking northern Nigeria five years ago but as recently as last year, southerners were saying "Boko Haram is a northern problem."

This year, however, thousands of people have been killed and Boko Haram has hit the centrally located capital three times.  Two days ago, the group claimed responsibility for a bombing in the southern city of Lagos, the country’s financial capital and largest city.
 
Northerners that live in the south say their neighbors are getting anxious, paranoid that any northerner may be associated with Boko Haram.  

Musa Ihiyaka Amande, a Muslim community leader in a region known as the ‘South-South’,  said, “Because of insurgency that every Muslim staying down there, or northerners staying down there will be seen as Boko Haram.”
 
Amande complained that northerners -- both Christian and Muslim -- were discriminated against in the south.  He said some were arrested arbitrarily by authorities who said they were searching for weapons.  
 
And even if the insurgency never reaches the south, he fears increasing tensions ahead of what is expected to be a volatile election year.
 
In 2011 post-election violence, nearly a thousand people were killed in Nigeria’s "Middle Belt" when southerner President Goodluck Jonathan defeated his northern competition.  In 2015, Jonathan is expected to run again, despite accusations that he’d be breaking a power-sharing agreement that calls for a northern leader.  
 
Suleman Ahmed, the deputy chairman of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, said tensions were already interfering with constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

“Freedom of association, freedom of settlement, for people to settle everywhere as long as they belong to the country,” he said.
 
Nearly 500 northerners were arrested as they traveled south last month.  Authorities later claimed Boko Haram leaders were among the travelers, but many northerners were outraged, saying mass arrests are publicity stunts in a region where locals are already prone to suspect the northerners in their neighborhood. 

(Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.)

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid