Communities clash over forced marriage and 12 are killed
Twelve people have been killed after Muslim and Christian youth clashed on Monday (26 February) in Kasuuwan Magani, Kaduna State.
The riots over the abduction and forced marriages of Christian girls by Muslims took place just over 30km from the state capital, Kaduna.
A witness said the clash erupted when a Christian girl was abducted and forcibly converted to Islam and taken to the residence of the local chief, Sarkin Kasuwan Magani, to be married off to a Muslim. Christian youths then mobilised to rescue the girl from her Muslim abductors but Muslim youths mobilised to counter the move.
A resident, who spoke to Global Christian News said the community has had problems for a long time between Muslims and Christian. The Christians have complained that their sisters have been ‘married’ to Muslims after ‘conversion’ to Islam without their parents’ consent. This practise generated tension in the village over months.
The police acknowledged that it was aware of “skirmishes” in the area for about two weeks “but we did not know that there was a grand design to carry out massive destruction as it happened”.
By the time security forces arrived over 1000 houses had been burnt, and many were injured.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Austin Iwar, said 11 people were “buried around 12 midnight” and a twelfth person later died at the hospital on Tuesday.
“It is unfortunate. As we can see, the level of destruction is very high… This is not what we wish for our state, Kaduna,” he added.
He pledged that the police would not “leave any stone unturned” in its investigation.
The Deputy State governor said that any conflict with a religious element “will be the fastest way to liquidate this country. As leaders, we must understand that leadership comes with responsibilities. It is our job to keep preaching to those who are leading through our actions and words that we belong to one God.
“The fact that somebody is a Christian or Muslim does not mean that he should hate another person. I have not seen any religion that preaches hate killings. It is the way we behave that promotes that. We are talking about hate speech. The worst of it is hate action. If we treat ourselves as brothers and sisters, those following us will follow us. We must try as hard as we can, not to have any religious escalation in Nigeria.” Ikweremadu said.
The senator from southern Kaduna, Sani, speaking on the incident said, “Everyday, we wake up in this country and we are faced with one form of violence or another. We are now accepting the reality that violence is the way of life. It is unfortunate that we wake up everyday and we see killings, kidnappings and other things that shake the stability and unity of this country in every respect. I use this opportunity to appeal to all parties involved in all forms of violence to know that we cannot achieve any progress without peace. The unity of Nigeria is not about the flag or the anthem, but the establishment of a system that ensures justice, harmony and love among one another. I want the Senate to identify with us in our time of crisis. We must live together as Christians and as Muslims in this country. We need to live as people, despite the fact that we are from different parts of the country.” Sani said.