Revenge in the Name of Religion

The Cycle of Violence in Plateau and Kano States

[1]An explanation of this issue is provided in Section III of this report, and, in more detail, in the Human Rights Watch report "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001.

[2]See Human Rights Watch report "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001.

[3]Human Rights Watch has already documented and reported in detail on the violence in Jos in 2001 and 2002. See Human Rights Watch reports "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001, and pages 23-26 of "Testing democracy: political violence in Nigeria," April 2003.

[4] See Human Rights Watch reports "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001, and "The 'Miss World riots': continued impunity for killings in Kaduna," July 2003.

[5]See Human Rights Watch report "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001.

[6] No accurate statistics are available on the proportions of Christians and Muslims.Some Muslims claim that they make up half, or more than half, of the population of the state, but these figures are strongly disputed by Christians.

[7] For a full discussion of this issue, see Human Rights Watch report "Political Shari'a? Human Rights and Islamic Law in Northern Nigeria," September 2004.

[8]The concept of "indigene" was formalized for the first time in the 1979 Constitution with a view to ensuring representation for the broad diversity of groups within all the major political institutions.

For a fuller explanation of the problems caused by the distinction between "indigenes" and "non-indigenes", see pages 22-24 of Human Rights Watch report "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001.

[9] Section 42, Constitution of the FederalRepublic of Nigeria, 1999.

[10] This was the case in the period leading up to the Jos crisis of September 2001, and again during the primaries for the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Jos north, in May 2002, when scores more people were killed.For details, see pages 23-26 of Human Rights Watch report "Testing democracy:political violence in Nigeria," April 2003.

[11] See letter to the Administrator of Plateau State by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), May 24, 2004.Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm these figures. This letter also provides a fuller explanation of the Fulani point of view on the conflict.

[12]In this respect, the evolution of the conflict in Plateau mirrors that of other states, such as Kaduna, where the religious element has been introduced with devastating consequences.See Human Rights Watch report "The 'Miss World riots':continued impunity for killings in Kaduna," July 2003.

[13] A system of traditional leaders, or chiefs, operates in parallel with administrative local government structures. Traditional leaders are recognized by the government, but are not elected in the same manner as government officials.They are selected according to different traditions in different communities.Despite not holding formal positions in the government, they wield considerable influence at the local level and can accumulate significant wealth.Some of the most bitter disputes between communities in PlateauState, as in other parts of Nigeria, have been over the selection of traditional chiefs.

[14] Human Rights Watch interviews, Lafia, Yelwa, and Jos, July 2004.Many Jarawa blame the current Long Gamai, Hubert Sheldas, for the conflicts in Yelwa and Shendam.

[15] "Road map to peace in the southern part of PlateauState: 'the Yelwa-Shendam LG case' presented by the Gamai community of Yelwa-Inshar, PlateauState."

[16]"The true facts about the Yelwa crisis submitted by Mal. Abdullahi D. Abdullahi II on behalf of the Yelwa Rehabilitation Committee [] to the Special Committee 'C' Yelwa-Shendam-Qu'aan Pan Axis, Government House Rayfield, Jos, June, 2004."

[17] Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 10, 2004.

[18]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 9, 2004.

[19]This account is based on testimonies from residents of Yelwa and other local sources interviewed byHuman Rights Watch in Lafia, Yelwa, and Jos, in July 2004.

[20]Human Rights Watch interviews with people displaced from Yelwa, in Lafia, NasarawaState, July 8, 2004.

[21]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[22]"Road map to peace in the southern part of PlateauState: 'the Yelwa-Shendam LG case', presented by the Gamai community of Yelwa-Inshar, PlateauState."

[23]Human Rights Watch interviews in Shendam and Yelwa, July 9, 2004.

[24]The account of the attack on the COCIN church which follows is based on Human Rights Watch interviews with eye-witnesses and survivors in Yelwa on July 10 and 11, 2004.The testimonies quoted are from these interviews, unless otherwise indicated.

[25]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 9, 2004.

[26]Human Rights Watch interview with Plateau State Commissioner of Police Joseph Apapa, and Sotonye Leroy Wakama, Assistant Commissioner in charge of investigations, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[27]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 9, 2004.The figure of 265 is also cited in documents compiled by Gamai representatives.

[28]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 10, 2004.

[29]Human Rights Watch was given two versions of the same document, one by the district head of Shendam, entitled "Chronology of acts of atrocities committed by Yelwa people on the Goemai native villages with dates and various incidents without any provocation as at 10th May, 2004", the other by the deputy chairman of Shendam local government, entitled "Chronology of incidents that led to the crisis on 2nd May 2004."The information is the same in both documents.Further information on some of these incidents was also obtained in Human Rights Watch interviews, Shendam, July 9 and 10, 2004.

[30]Human Rights Watch interviews, Yelwa, July 10 and 11, 2004.Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify the information about each of these attacks.

[31]Human Rights Watch interview with displaced resident from Longvel, Lafia, July 8, 2004.The witness provided the names of seven of the victims.

[32]"Forty killed in fresh violence in Nigeria," Reuters, February 27, 2004.

[33]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 9, 2004.The names of four of the victims were provided.

[34]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 9, 2004.

[35]"Nigerian religious feud kills 20 more, total 220," Reuters, March 26, 2004, and "At least 20 killed in central Nigeria: witness," Agence France-Presse, April 26, 2004.

[36]Ethnic labels are sometimes used as a shorthand, orinaccurately, to tarnish particular groups.In the same way that Muslims often describe all Christian attackers as "Tarok militia" even when they are from other ethnic groups, Christians often describe Muslim attackers as Hausa or Fulani, even when they are from other groups.Christians frequently use the term "Hausa" to refer to Muslims in general.

[37]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7, 2004.

[38]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7, 2004.

[39]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[40]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[41]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[42]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[43]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[44]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 9, 2004.

[45]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 9, 2004.

[46]Ibid.

[47]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[48]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[49]Human Rights Watch interviews, Yelwa, July 9 and 10, 2004.

[50]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 9, 2004.

[51]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[52]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7, 2004.

[53]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7, 2004.

[54]Ibid.

[55]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[56]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7, 2004.

[57]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7 and 8, 2004.

[58]The Hausa language is spoken by many ethnic groups in the area, not only those of Hausa ethnicity.

[59]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 10, 2004.

[60]Ibid.

[61]Ibid.

[62]"Chronology of acts of atrocities committed by Yelwa people on the Goemai native villages with dates and various incidences without any provocation as at 10th May, 2004," by Leonard U. Shaiyen, District Head of Shendam, May 10, 2004.

[63]Human Rights Watch interview with Leonard Shaiyen, Maidaki (traditional leader) of Shendam district, and Ambrose Naanlong Gapsuk, spokesman for the Gamai Unity and Development Organization (GUDO), Shendam, July 10, 2004.

[64]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 9, 2004.

[65]Human Rights Watch interview with Rev. Alexander Lar, President of COCIN, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[66]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, May 10, 2004.

[67]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 9, 2004.

[68]Human Rights Watch interview with Leonard Shaiyen, Maidaki (traditional leader) of Shendam district, and Ambrose Naanlong Gapsuk, spokesman for the Gamai Unity and Development Organization (GUDO), Shendam, July 10, 2004.

[69]Human Rights Watch interview with Rev. Yakubu Pam, CAN chairman, PlateauState, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[70]Human Rights Watch interview with Rev. Dr Musa Asake, General Secretary, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Jos, July 12, 2004.

[71]Human Rights Watch interview with The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola, Anglican Primate of Nigeria, Abuja, June 30, 2004.

[72]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[73]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 9, 2004.

[74]Human Rights Watch interview with Joseph Apapa, Plateau State Commissioner of Police and

Sotonye Leroy Wakama, Assistant Commissioner in Charge of Investigations, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[75]Human Rights Watch interviews, Lafia and Yelwa, July 7-10, 2004.

[76]Human Rights Watch interview with Timothy Parlong, Permanent Secretary for Security, Jos, July 13, 2004.

[77]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, August 3, 2004.

[78]The mobile police have a different command from the regular police.

[79]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[80]Human Rights Watch interview with John Gobak, Secretary to the State Government, and Timothy Parlong, Permanent Secretary for Security, Jos, August 3, 2004.

[81]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Director of Press Affairs, PlateauState government, April 27, 2005.

[82]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 10, 2004.

[83]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[84]Ibid.

[85]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[86]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 10, 2004.

[87]Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, July 10, 2004.

[88]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[89]Human Rights Watch interview, London, June 2, 2004.

[90]"The Yelwa crises in perspective" and "Yelwa crises:the ulama, the media and the rest of us," both signed by Stephen Sarki Musa, Secretary General, Gamai Unity and Development Organization (GUDO), May 2004.

[91]See cover story and "A trip to Yelwa-Shendam" in Weekly Trust, June 5-11, 2004.

[92]See for example "Plateau: 2 killed, 20 houses razed in fresh fighting," ThisDay, August 6, 2004, and "5 killed as Plateau boils again 36 speakers back emergency rule," Daily Champion, May 27, 2004.

[93] See "Plateau: Hausa/Fulani, Taroh may clash again," Daily Independent, March 8, 2005.

[94]A number of national and international humanitarian organizations assisting the displaced advanced figures within this range.See for example "Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP): Humanitarian Appeal 2005 for West Africa," United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), November 11, 2004, which refers to the displacement of more than 57,000 people; and "Nigeria: Villagers running scared despite state of emergency," Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), May 3, 2004, which quotes a Red Cross estimate of 50,000 people in camps bordering Plateau State.

[95]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 7, 2004.

[96]Human Rights Watch interview, Lafia, July 8, 2004.

[97]Human Rights Watch interviews, Lafia, July 7 and 8, 2004.

[98]See IRIN report "Nigeria: Plateau state IDPs face daunting obstacles to return to 'home of peace and tourism'", February 18, 2005.

[99]The eight new regulations were the Emergency Powers (General) Regulations 2004; Emergency Powers (Processions and Meetings, etc); Emergency Powers (Reporting of Persons) Regulations 2004; Emergency Powers (Control of Arms and Explosives) Regulations 2004; Emergency Powers (Curfew) Regulations 2004; Emergency Powers (Detention of Persons) Regulations 2004; Emergency Powers (Restriction Orders) Regulations 2004; and Emergency Powers (Protected Places) Regulations 2004.

[100]"Broadcast by His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, on the imposition of a state of emergency in PlateauState, Tuesday May 18, 2004."

Many people interviewed by Human Rights Watch also blamed Governor Dariye for the violence.Dariye had become deeply unpopular, even among Christians, especially since the Jos crisis of 2001.There is no doubt that his neglect of the conflict since 2001 contributed to an escalation of the violence.However, Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm whether Dariye or other government officials actively instigated the violence.

[101]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[102]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 9, 2004.

[103]Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, July 10, 2004.

[104] The Plateau Peace Program of Maj. Gen. MC Alli (Rtd), May-November 2004, signed by John G. Gobak, Secretary to the State Government, June 15, 2004.Human Rights Watch also discussed the program with Administrator Chris Alli and Ezekiel Dalyop, Director of Press Affairs, Plateau State Government, Jos, August 3, 2004.

[105]See "Cash payments offered for militia guns in troubled Plateau," IRIN, May 24, 2004, and "Plateau rewards weapon returnees tomorrow," Daily Trust, June 29, 2004.

[106] Address presented by His Excellency, the Administrator of Plateau State Major-Gen. Chris Alli (rtd) on the occasion of the inauguration of a study group committee held at the conference hall of the Administrator's Office, Rayfield, on Friday 2nd July, 2004.

[107] See for example "Police recover arms, arrest 15 Plateau militiamen," ThisDay (Lagos), September 1, 2004.

[108] "The Plateau State Peace Declaration of Religious Leaders made on 2nd July, 2004."

[109]"Communique at the end of interactive session among the various communities of Wase local government area held in the conference hall of the Government House Rayfield, Jos on Thursday 24th June, 2004."The communities listed are the Jukun, Tarok, Hausa, Bashar, Jarawa, Fulani, and Bogghom.

[110]The Plateau Peace Program of Maj. Gen. MC Alli (Rtd), May-November 2004, signed by John G. Gobak, Secretary to the State Government, June 15, 2004.

[111]Address presented by His Excellency, the Administrator of Plateau State Major-Gen. Chris Alli (Rtd) on the occasion of the inauguration of a study group committee held at the conference hall of the Administrator's Office, Rayfield, on Friday 2nd July, 2004.

[112]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Director of Press Affairs, Plateau State Government, October 7, 2004.

[113] Press statement, Office of the Administrator, PlateauState, October 25, 2004.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Ibid. The resolution states that indigene certificates should be issued on the basis of the following definition:"people who are the first to have settled permanently in a particular area, and who are considered as 'traditional natives', such designations being inherited from one's ancestors, as opposed to their having bought the place of residence, or being given such places free by earlier settlers.Such persons have rights to their lands, their traditions and culture.Indigenes are those who have exclusive claims to a place through historical and homogenous culture without an alternative place to practise that culture."The resolution then states that indigene certificates should be issued by the very same traditional rulers who issue them at present, thus apparently perpetuating the problem.

[116] Ibid.

[117] As reproduced in "Obasanjo Proposes Reconciliation Commission for Plateau", ThisDay, October 13, 2004.

[118] "The Plateau Unity and Reconciliation Bill," Daily Champion, October 25, 2004.

[119]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Director of Press Affairs, Plateau State Government, April 27, 2005.

[120]Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Dakas C.J.Dakas, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Plateau State Government, May 5, 2005.

[121]Ibid.

[122]The announcement was first made by Thomas Kangnaan, Special Adviser on Resettlement and Rehabilitation.See "Plateau crises claimed 54,000 lives," ThisDay, October 7, 2004.

[123]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Director of Press Affairs, October 7, 2004.

[124]Address presented by His Excellency, the Administrator of Plateau State Major-Gen. Chris Alli (rtd) on the occasion of the inauguration of a study group committee held at the conference hall of the Administrator's Office, Rayfield, on Friday 2nd July, 2004.

[125]Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Director of Press Affairs, Plateau State Government,Jos, August 3, 2004.See also "Plateau crisis: tribunal commence hearing today," Daily Trust, July 16, 2004.

[126] Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Dakas C.J.Dakas, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Plateau State Government, May 4, 2005.

[127]PlateauState Police Command Press Briefing of 3rd June 2004.

[128]"Press release on the misrepresentation of facts contained in the Plateau State police command press briefing of 3rd June 2004," May 10, 2004

[129]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, July 12, 2004.Human Rights Watch has not been able to obtain a more recent update on these cases.

[130]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, August 4, 2004.

[131]Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, July 13, 2004.

[132]Allegations of bias have been leveled at the police and the government ever since the Jos crisis of September 2001.See for example "Summary of one-sided arrests of and cases pending in courts affecting Muslims since the September 7, 2001 crisis in PlateauState" by Lawal Ishaq, Defense Counsel.This chart claims that of 482 people arrested from September 2001 to March 2003, 463 are Muslims.

[133]Human Rights Watch interview with Rev Yakubu Pam, CAN chairman for PlateauState, Jos, July 12, 2004.

[134]Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Dakas C.J.Dakas, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Plateau State Government, May 4, 2005.

[135]For details of large-scale violence in Kaduna in 2000 and 2002, see Human Rights Watch report "The 'Miss World riots':continued impunity for killings in Kaduna," July 2003.

[136]Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, July 1, 2004.

[137]Governor Shekarau told Human Rights Watch that he had provided 10 billion naira worth of assistance, the equivalent of around U.S.$ 76 million.Human Rights Watch interview with Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, Kano, August 17, 2004.

[138]Ibid.

[139]Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, June 29, 2004.

[140]Human Rights Watch interviews, Kano, July 4 and 5, 2004.There were contradictions between the testimonies of different people who listened to the speech.

[141]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[142]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[143]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[144]For background information on the phenomenon of yandaba, see Y.Z.Ya'u, "The youth, economic crisis and identity transformation: the case of the yandaba in Kano," in Attahiru Jega (ed.), Identity transformation and identity politics under structural adjustment in Nigeria (2000).

[145]The almajiris are boys from poor families, some as young as four or five, sent to study in Qur'anic schools situated far from their family homes.The schoolteachers are supposed to take care of the children but often abuse them and send them out on the streets to beg.The almajiris, who are very numerous in large northern cities such as Kano, end up living on the streets, in extreme poverty.They are sometimes recruited to join larger gangs of older boys and men when there are outbreaks of violence.

[146]Human Rights Watch interviews, Bompai police barracks, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[147]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[148]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[149]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[150]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[151]Even higher figures were mentioned by some Christian leaders in statements to the media immediately after the riots; these claims do not appear to have been based on accurate information.

[152]Human Rights Watch interview with Commissioner of Police Ganiyu Dawodu, Kano, July 6, 2004.

[153]Human Rights Watch interview with Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, Kano, August 17, 2004.

[154]See "84 killed in Kano reprisal attacks, says panel," Guardian, December 20, 2004.

[155]"Names of the victims killed during the May 11th 2004 religious violence in Kano" by the CAN Compilation Committee, Christian Association of Nigeria, Kano State Chapter.CAN also made a list of 24 churches burnt in Kano.

[156]Human Rights Watch interview, Bompai police barracks, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[157]Human Rights Watch interview, Bompai police barracks, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[158]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[159]All testimonies quoted in this section are from Human Rights Watch interviews in Bompai police barracks, Kano, July 4 and 5, 2004, unless otherwise indicated.All the witnesses quoted are Christian.

[160]The eight victims, all male, included Dodo (aged 28), two men called Marcus (in their thirties) Christopher (aged 21), all from KadunaState, Sule (aged about 20) and Ado (aged about 30), both from AdamawaState, and Damon, a 40-year-old Igbo man, who sold medicines.

[161]Human Rights Watch interview, Bompai police barracks, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[162]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[163]Human Rights Watch interview, Bompai police barracks, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[164]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[165]Human Rights Watch interviews, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[166]"Nigerian Muslims take revenge in bloody riot," Reuters, May 12, 2004.See also "Death toll in Nigerian riot rises to 30: police," Agence France-Presse, May 12, 2004, and "Shoot-on-sight order in Kano as death toll hits 30", Vanguard, May 13, 2004.

[167]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[168]See Human Rights Watch reports "Jos: a city torn apart," December 2001, and "The 'Miss World riots': continued impunity for killings in Kaduna," July 2003.

[169]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 4, 2004.

[170]Ibid.

[171]Human Rights Watch telephone conversations, May 14, 2004, and interviews in Kano, July 4 and 5, 2004.

[172]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[173]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 6, 2004.

[174]Ibid.

[175]Ibid.

[176]Human Rights Watch interviews, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[177]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[178]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[179]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[180]Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, July 5, 2004.

[181]Ibid.

[182]Human Rights Watch interview with Commissioner of Police Ganiyu Dawodu, Kano, July 6, 2004.

[183]Ibid.Human Rights Watch tried to update these figures in April 2005, but the police public relations officer told a Kano-based activist that he did not have more recent figures and could not provide up to date information on the progress of prosecutions.

[184]Human Rights Watch interview with Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, Kano, August 17, 2004.

[185]Human Rights Watch telephone conversation, April 29, 2005.

[186]Human Rights Watch interview with Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, Kano, August 17, 2004.

[187]Human Rights Watch interviews, Kano, July 4-5, 2004.

[188]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Kano, April 26, 2005.

Region / Country