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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid