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Nigeria Cleric Blames Poor Security for Violence

  • Peter Clottey

Rescue workers carry an injured person from a transport at St Gerard hospital in Kaduna, Nigeria, June 17, 2012.
In Nigeria, a prominent Muslim cleric in Kaduna State says the government is to blame for the lack of adequate security preceding the weekend bombings of three churches and the rioting that followed.

Tukur Adam Abdullahi, Chief Imam of the Al Mannar Mosque in Kaduna, condemned as reprehensible attempts by “conspirators” with an agenda to create conflict between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria.

“Nobody is happy with what is going on in Kaduna…those who are behind these explosions have still not [been] identified,” he said.

His comments came a day after officials said about 50 people were killed Sunday in the suicide bombings of three Christian churches and in rioting that followed. In Kaduna, Christian youths took the streets, setting fire to mosques and shops and attacking cars.

The violent Islamist militant sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Kaduna state government responded with a curfew. Chief Imam Abdullahi expressed support stage government efforts to tighten security and to ease tensions.

“The curfew is good. If it will solve the problem and protect the lives and property of the people, I support it. [When] everything is back to normal, they have to lift the curfew so people can go and search for what they can eat,” he said.

He said Muslim leaders in the region are working to help avoid any further violence.

“We are delivering Friday sermons, organizing lectures and seminars on how to live in peace and harmony in Kaduna and in all Nigeria at large,” he said.

Abdullahi expressed dissatisfaction with the security agencies. He said they failed to prevent the attacks and subsequent violence which he blamed on “bad” elements in society.

“The problem is that the security personnel are not doing their jobs because the explosions [are caused by] explosives imported from outside. The security personnel may know those who are behind these explosions and those who are financing the people behind [them],” said Abdullahi.

He said security personnel should also failed to police those areas most vulnerable to attack.

Analysts say the assaults are meant to cause tension between Muslims and Christians. Abdullahi agreed:

“We Muslims understand these bombings in northern Nigeria [are part of an] agenda to destroy the state…[There should be] an understanding from our Christian brothers that there is an enemy who wants to cause conflict between Muslims and Christians. If we can come together and know our enemy, who is behind this, there would be no problem,” he said.

He said that some of the other bombings in recent months may not have involved only Muslims. He said several arrests have been made implicating church members in some of the previous attacks.