At least 13 people have been killed in the latest sectarian violence to hit central Nigeria. As investigations begin into the latest violence in the central city of Jos, the government and prominent groups are searching for a lasting solution. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has a proposal that’s getting a lot of attention. He says Nigeria should be split into two independent countries.
“His simplistic solution cannot work because Nigeria is not neatly divided between Christians and Muslims,” says Innocent Chukwuma, head of the CLEEN Foundation, a Lagos-based pro-democracy group.
He says although some agree with the Libyan leader, the proposal would not work in a complex country like Nigeria.
“Down in the North, you also have a significant Christian population as you also have a significant Muslim in the South. So if you have you say you are given the North to the Muslims and the South to the Christians, what do you do about the Christians in the North and the Muslims in the South?”
Chukwuma agrees that the circle of violence will continue to put pressure on the country’s unity. Only a sustained government effort to prosecute those responsible, he says, will reduce the calls for the dissolution of the current political arrangement.
“There is that fear that if the federal government does not quickly come to a solution on this intractable sectarian violence, it might get out of hand. But I don’t see it getting to such a situation that people would whole-heartedly drift back to their places of origin.”
The real danger about the current spate of killings in Jos, says Chukwuma, is the possibility in might spread to other parts of the country.
It will spread if the government continues to do nothing, he says. “But I think in this latest one, a number of people have been arrested who they say have confessed. So if they quickly bring those people to trial, it would go a long way in reassuring people that they don’t need to take the laws into their hands.”