Ethno-religious riots in Nigeria and its impact on students
Ethno-religious crisis has continued to be a major bane in northern Nigerian and has in many ways led to destruction of lives and properties. Over the years these senseless killings due to ethnic and religious bigotry have thrown the affected regions into turmoil, left many wounded and many rendered homeless. The costs in lives, property, political and economic stability are always devastating when these violence surface. It is in no doubt that students and youth corpers in these regions have always been at the receiving end of this carnage. Many students have been killed, with many left with very horrible tales to tell. Tragically, the interest of governments (federal, state and local) to halt the carnage repeating itself in this region has always produced little or no result.
The recent electoral violence in some states in the north cannot be forgotten in a hurry especially among students. It has left horrible, heart rending tales in the mouth of many students and National Youth Corps members serving their fatherland in this part of the country.
History of ethno-religious riots in Nigeria
Nigeria has had a long history of ethnic and religious riots. These riots which are always targeted at people of opposite faith and ethnic lines have lead to loss of valuable lives and properties, many have been rendered homeless and places of worship have been burnt. Religious riots in the northern city of Kano in December 1980 lead to the death of some 4000 persons, in 1982, another religious riot was recorded in Kano where Moslem students set fire to several churches in protest of sitting of a Christian church close to a mosque. Another riot broke out in 1992, in which about 200 lives were lost in…In May 2000; carnage broke out in Kaduna again which led to the death of about 100 people. The religious riot of October 2001 came a day after Muslim fundamentalists clashed with police during a street protest against the US led airstrikes on Afghanistan; hundreds of lives were lost in this riot. Another bloody riot was recorded in Kaduna in November 2002 were more than 30000 people were displaced during four days of a bloody genocide. In 2004 in Kano, about 30 people were killed in two days of religious violence, sparked off by a Muslim protest demonstration against a massacre committed by Christians. On February 23, 2006 At least 20 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the south-eastern Nigerian city of Onitsha by Christians taking revenge for the killing of Christians in northern Nigeria. One of the bloodiest violence was recorded in Jos city in January 2010. Jos before then was regarded as one of the most peaceful places in Nigeria and a haven for foreign tourists, Muslim youths set a church filled with worshipers ablaze starting a riot that killed many and wounded more than 300 others, about 5000 people lost their homes in the very bloody riot. Another blood bath was recorded in December of that same year in Jos which led to loss of valuable lives and property. The latest in the spate of this senseless killings is the recent electoral violence in some states in the north, many have lost their lives, student alike. In spite of all these violence which has been repeating itself over the years and nothing tangible seems to have been done by the government.
Students are not left out in the spate of this violence. Most times they end up being at the receiving end of these carnages. Many students have been victims of this dastardly and avoidable genocide. The major cities were these riots have broken out in the past are always a haven of students both indigenes and non-indigenes alike. For example in Kaduna state, there are more than ten institutions of higher learning as well as Kano, Jos and other cities in the north. Though it is always believed that such fights do not enter the school environment, students who stays off-campus may be victim of these violent acts. The Jos mayhem last year caused the death of many students of the University of Jos which is a clear indication that students are also affected. The recent violence in Kaduna state proved the above notion wrong as armed youth found their way into the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic Zaria, many students and lecturers lost their lives in the dastardly mayhem. An eye witness is Othman John, a diploma student of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria who stays close the Nuhu Bamali Polythecnic Zaria some kilometers away from the ABU campus, he was almost in tears when he was narrating his experiences to Campuslife “ it all started around 12 am that fateful day, I was preparing to sleep when about 5 angry looking men walked into my room with cutlasses, daggers and knives, as soon as they entered the room I knew that hell was let loose, my Muslim name and my prowess in Hausa language saved my life if not I would have been dead by now, they asked me if I was for PDP or CPC, I said I was for CPC thinking that would pacify them, when they realized I was very fluent in Hausa language and that I was probably a Muslim, they let me go, I then ran into the school where I saw hundreds of students with different horrible tales, we all slept on the field of the school till the following morning. Around 9am the following day they came back, that was when I saw what hell looked like, I saw students killed right in front of me, the corpers lodge in the school was burnt, and a lecturer slaughtered, it was really terrible” Othman may have been lucky to escape but a 300 level student of geology ABU Zaria was not. He was among those attacked in the fracas; campuslife learnt that the student lost his life in the process. Before his death he recanted his experience to his course mate Andas Maliki “ I was off-campus when I noticed some miscreants coming towards my direction, before I could say “jack”, they pounced on me and beat me to stupor, I woke up the following at the school’s sickbay”. A few days later the student lost his life probably due to complications from the attack.
Effects of ethno-religious crisis
There is no doubt that these entire violent acts have had a lot of negative effect on the country. Apart from the lives and properties being destroyed, these crises has affected the economic stability of the nation, it has continued to drive the economy of the nation especially the North to the woods. In both Kano and Kaduna states, with declining independent revenue, the economy is always bound to suffer as the crises take their toll. Non-indigenes and non-Nigerians alike continue to flee for safety, abandoning the economy. They come seeking economic opportunities, and frequently gain access to employment through kin networks. Many of the youth corps members serving in this part of the country have run for their dear lives, this in no small way has and will affect the socio-economic stability of these regions. There is no doubt that places like Kano and Kaduna are traditional commercial capitals of the north and draws a great number of traders, people come from all over the country to buy and sell in these places, now with the spate of killings, it will grossly reduce. The unity of the country is at stake if ethno-religious intolerance is allowed to continue, many students in the southern part of the country who will want to come to school in the north may have to change their minds, and this might put the unity we are craving for into real jeopardy. Government should do everything possible to protect the lives of innocent people living in the north.