Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Nigeria: Kano's Martyrs

Date: Tuesday 13 May 2003
Subj: Nigeria: Kano's Martyrs
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator


NIGERIA: KANO'S MARTYRS

The Nigerian elections are over. Olusegun Obasanjo's Popular Democratic Party (PDP) won the federal legislative elections held on 12 April 03, securing both houses of parliament. Olusegun Obasanjo won the Presidential poll on 19 April, polling 24.5 million ballots or sixty-two percent of the vote (with the required nation-wide spread), to pro-Sharia (Islamic Law) hardliner Muhammadu Buhari's 12.7 million or thirty-two percent, concentrated in the far north. Also on 19 April were the governorship elections, while the state legislative elections were held on 3 May.

The relative peacefulness of the election period amazed observers who had anticipated wide-scale election violence. Millions of Christians had prayed for peace - God deserves all the glory.

In Kano, Northern Nigeria, the election has however, caused a dramatic escalation of Islamist zeal, which may be responsible for the deaths of a Baptist pastor, his wife, three children and two relatives - burned to death in their home on 22 April. One other son escaped the flames and survived with serious injuries. (Link 1)

RELIGIOUS TENSIONS IN KANO

On 1 March 2000, Kano became the forth northern Nigerian state to adopt Sharia Law. On 21 June 2000, when Sharia was officially launched in Kano, hundreds of thousands of Kano Muslims celebrated, in possibly the largest crowds ever seen on Kano's streets.

At that time, Kano Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso said that although Sharia had been adopted, its actual implementation would not begin for several months whilst the necessary structures were put in place. However, Governor Kwankwaso never did get around to doing much about the implementation of Sharia, preferring to concentrate his efforts on rural development.

The adoption of Sharia did however raise Islamic sentiment and sensitivities in Kano, Nigeria's most populous northern state. The result has been regular violent attacks upon Christians, and the destruction and closure of churches, such that Kano has become one of the most hostile places for Christians in all of Nigeria.

ELECTIONS 2003

Kano was the only one of Nigeria's thirty-six states where an incumbent Popular Democratic Party (PDP) governor lost his governorship to an All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) challenger.

According to a report by Tajudeen Sulaiman in Kano, entitled "Upset in Kano", published in "The News", Lagos, "Kwankwaso's (PDP) administration had electrified and brought portable water to almost every village in the rural areas, and had instituted a welfare scheme whereby rural women received up to N5, 000 every month to run small scale business." (Called the "Women Empowerment Programme".)

Yet, although Governor Kwankwaso (PDP) had achieved much in terms of development, he had, according to his ANPP challenger Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau (who is second only to Buhari himself as an ANPP ideologue and flag-bearer) been "dishonest in the implementation of Sharia."

Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau campaigned for the governorship of Kano on a hardline, full-implementation of Sharia platform. During his campaign rallies in Kano city, chants of "Allahu Akbar" would rent the air. He had no money to fund his campaign, and he relied almost totally on the support of Islamic clerics and proponents of Sharia, particularly the Hisba Committee (Vanguards of Sharia Implementation in Kano) who campaigned for him.

Reporter Tajudeen Sulaiman goes on to say, "Buhari and his campaigners exploited the religious sentiments of ordinary Northern Muslims. Those campaigning for PDP and Obasanjo were labelled as non-believers who did not deserve the vote of 'good Muslims.' ANPP campaigners in Kano went about with megaphones calling on Muslims to see the gubernatorial elections as a jihad." (Link 2)

RESULTS AND RESPONSE

Kano voted overwhelmingly for the ANPP in Federal elections, for Buhari for President, for an ANPP pro-Sharia state governor (Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau) and for an ANPP dominated state parliament.

As the results of the federal parliamentary elections trickled out and it became ever clearer that the PDP would not only retain federal power but hold control both houses of federal parliament, tension rose amongst Buhari / ANPP supporters.

Buhari fuelled the flames with denouncements and a rejection of the results, declaring, "This would be the first election in which, through elaborate collusion, those who lost elections were declared winners and those who won lost," and highly inflammatory remarks about the "massive and state organized rape on democracy," and threats of "mass action." By the time the presidential polls were being held on 19 April, tensions were at boiling point in the ANPP / Buhari stronghold of Kano.

When the presidential and governorship results were announced on the evening of 21 April, Kano's Muslims came out onto the streets to celebrate Shekarau's win as Kano's new pro-Sharia governor. (Link3)

By 4:15am, the home of pastor Chikezie (Sunday) Madumere was alight. The Madumere home was located in an area of Kano city known as "no man's land." Obed Minchak, reporting for Compass Direct, described Pastor Madumere as "a zealous Christian preacher. known for his powerful preaching, which has led many Muslims in Kano to convert to the Christian faith."

The Compass Direct 7 May news release said, "Observers believe the conversions may have angered Muslim militants in the city and they decided to eliminate him.

"Police authorities say the fire may have been caused by an electrical fault. Christian leaders, however, have ruled out that theory, insisting that the pastor and his family were victims of
religious intolerance."

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With Buhari continuing his inflammatory rhetoric, rejecting the results and demanding re-elections threatening, "Otherwise there will be no government by 30 May," we should expect Kano to become increasingly unsettled and hostile.

Renowned Muslim cleric, Alhaji Surajudeen Asukuna, described Buhari's outbursts as "provocative, un-Islamic and capable of setting the country on fire...capable of truncating the nation's nascent democracy."

The "middle belt" of central Nigeria voted overwhelmingly for Obasanjo, because Buhari was seen as a lackey of a religious group; as a tribalist and a religious leader. Most Nigerians, Christians and Muslims alike, did not want that for Nigeria. But as discontent and anger escalates in "Buhariland" (the northern Sharia states) - Kano will certainly be the state to watch and pray over.

The Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN) has called for the establishment of a new Shariah implementation Committee in Kano State to expedite the full implementation of Sharia. (Link 4)

- Elizabeth Kendal

LINKS

1) Pastor, Six Others Die in Fire Outbreak
Daily Trust (Abuja) 23 April 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200304230568.html

2) "Upset in Kano" By Tajudeen Sulaiman in Kano
The News (Lagos) 5 May 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200305050343.html

3) "Nigeria's powerful new governors"
By Joseph Winter
BBC News Online, Abuja, 22 April 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2967881.stm

4) "SCSN Calls for New Shariah C'ttee"
By Jamilah Nuhu Musa
Daily Trust (Abuja) 30 April 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200304300688.html