News / Africa

Nigeria Election Refugees Face New Ballot Without Homes

Nigeria Election Refugees Face New Ballot Without Homesi
X
February 19, 2014 11:49 AM
Three years after post-election violence killed nearly 1,000 people in the Nigerian city of Kaduna, some families that fled the fighting are still living in makeshift camps. As Heather Murdock reports for VOA, local leaders fear, without a fundamental shift in the way Nigeria does politics, violence could break out in Kaduna again when the country holds elections next year.
Heather Murdock
Three years ago, post-election violence in the Nigerian city of Kaduna left nearly 1,000 people dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. As the city prepares for elections next year, there are concerns a renewal of violence and homelessness could devastate the city unless there is a fundamental shift in the way Nigerians do politics.
 
Uba Sani used to be a salesman in southern Kaduna. When Nigeria's presidential elections turned violent in 2011, he and tens of thousands of others fled their homes.

Now Sani lives in a camp in the north side of Kaduna with hundreds of others who are still displaced. He said there is not much left to go home to.

"All our properties are burnt and all our vehicles are burnt.  And they killed our people there," he said. "Almost getting to 1,000 people are dead under that crisis."
 
But Sani said he would leave this place and rebuild his home if he had the money, and if Nigerian security forces could provide security for what is left of his family. "I lost my one son in the crisis and I lost my five junior brothers in the crisis," added Sani.
 
But religious leaders said unless something changes about Nigerian politics, elections in cities like Kaduna, where the mostly Muslim north meets the mostly Christian south, will continue to be dangerous.

At a garden in Kaduna, Pastor Yohanna Buru from the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation of Nigeria, says politicians create the sharp divide between Christians and Muslims by tying competitions for power and resources to Nigerians' deep religious beliefs.

People will do anything, he said, if they believe it to be the right thing by their faith.

"That is why most politicians are political geniuses in Nigeria.  They use religion most to get what they want," said Buru.
 
The foundation's other leader, Imam Sani Isa, said despite a relative peace, and attempts at reconciliation over the past few years, Nigeria's upcoming 2015 presidential elections are already polarizing the people.

"I am deeply concerned and I am afraid.  I entertain fears.  Why?  Because I can see some people - some politicians and some electorates who cast their vote - I can see them starting to bring their religion into it," Isa said.

  • Three years after the last elections, some Nigerians who fled their homes because of the violence still live like refugees, in makeshift camps, hoping that someone will provide resources for them to rebuild or relocate, Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb 14, 2014.
  • Civilian security groups technically don’t carry arms, but they can often be seen with clubs, sticks poked with nails or other weapons, Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb. 14, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
  • Volunteers say they hope the Nigerian national elections in 2015 will be less violent through their efforts. Nearly 1,000 people died in Kaduna after the 2011 elections, Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb. 14, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
  • A former soldier trains dozens of volunteer civilian security guards in Kaduna, Nigeria ahead of the 2015 presidential elections, Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb. 14, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
  • Pastor Yohanna Buru of the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation of Nigeria works with Muslim leaders to try to reconcile decades-old differences between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria’s ‘Middle Belt,’ Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb. 14, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
  • Imam Sani Isa of the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation of Nigeria says politicians in Nigeria use religion to polarize the public on other economic and social issues, Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb. 14, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
  • Across Nigeria, thousands of men and women volunteer to be ‘vigilantes,’ patrolling neighborhoods to provide information to security forces,Kaduna, Nigeria, Feb. 14, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)

Kaduna officials said they hope to avert a security crisis next year by strengthening security and prosecuting anyone guilty of election violence.  But the international rights group Human Rights Watch said thousands of people have been killed in sectarian violence since 2010 and almost no one has been held responsible.

Civilian security groups, including dozens of uniformed trainees, said the only way to make Kaduna safe is to stop crimes before they happen.  
 
Retired Navy Captain Ab Umar, one of the leaders of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, said his group is increasing patrols and gathering information to share with security forces.

"We gather local intelligence reports and we stop the crime at the planning stage, before the crime starts," he said.
    
Violence might be averted in 2015 because people in Kaduna have physically separated themselves - much like the rest of the country - with Christians in the south, and Muslims in the north.  
 
At the displacement camp, Sani said there remain only a few hundred of the people who fled his neighborhood three years ago.  But for them, he said, even entirely peaceful elections will not be much comfort without a home.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs