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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs