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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora