News / Africa

Nigerian Leaders Say Jos Violence Will Not Disrupt April Vote

Hundreds of women march through the streets to protest the killing of women and children and destruction of properties in Jos, Plateau State in central Nigeria on January 31, 2011
Hundreds of women march through the streets to protest the killing of women and children and destruction of properties in Jos, Plateau State in central Nigeria on January 31, 2011

Nigeria's government says continuing religious and ethnic violence in central regions will not disrupt nationwide elections in April.  At least 200 people have died in that violence, in the last month.  

Most of the violence is centered on the Plateau State capital, Jos, where rival gangs of Christian and Muslim youths have engaged in revenge attacks since Christmas Eve bombings that killed 80 people and wounded more than 100 others.

Much of the tension in what is known as Nigeria's "Middle Belt" comes from land disputes between mostly-Christian farmers and predominantly-Muslim pastoralists. That hostility has been exacerbated by a radical Muslim group, known as Boko Haram, that says it is fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

But last week's assassination of a leading gubernatorial candidate in Borno State has raised concerns that the previously-localized violence could undermine nationwide elections in April.

President Goodluck Jonathan's government has moved quickly to try to reassure voters and candidates that the elections will be secure. 

"I can assure you that, by the grace of God, April elections will be peaceful," said
Humphrey Abbah, Nigeria's minister of police affairs.

Abbah says the government understands the problem and is moving to contain it. "There are challenges that have come up, and we are up to the task,” Abbah explains. “You should realize that government has the capacity to contain it. And, we are going to contain it."

Abbah will not say what actions security officials are planning. "Security measures to combat these things cannot be said on televisions and radios. That is why they remain security ways of handling it.  We are tackling it.  It will soon be over," he said.

Civil society leaders in Plateau State say one of the reasons for the recent insecurity appears to be the rotation of troops in a special military task force.  Brigadier General Hassan Umaru, who commands that task force, says the rotation will be complete by the end of this week.

"I just want to use this opportunity to ask the people to be patient with us because we have a large turnout of people coming in to replace the present ones on the ground," he said.

The local Red Cross has been helping to treat people injured during the violence and is improving conditions at centers for displaced civilians in case their numbers grow, as the elections approach.

"In Jos, we do have an office where we are now launching water and sanitation programs that will concentrate in schools that are places where people will flee when there is violence in their region. So we do want to have structures that will be ready to receive these people if they have to flee because of the violence," said Zoran Jovanovich, the head of the Red Cross delegation in the capital, Abuja.

Jovanovic says the Red Cross continues to work freely, despite considerable religious tension in Jos. "Sometimes even the police will hesitate to deploy Muslim officers in Christian neighborhoods or vice versa. I think the fact that we do have a very good branch of the Red Cross has helped us so far to be able to work more or less normally,” he said. “But it is obvious that in a time of tension, any movement in Jos town is very difficult and can be very dangerous."

The Jonathan government says some of its new anti-terrorism measures include closer inspections of police-licensed armories, the installation of more closed-circuit televisions to monitor public places and stepped-up security around political events to deter electoral violence.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More