A curfew was placed over the Nigerian state of Kaduna last Thursday after communal violence killed 55 people. The altercation between Hausa Muslims and Adara Christian youths in a local marketplace sparked riots in the Kasuwan Magani area of Kaduna, north-central Nigeria. According to Al Jazeera, two were killed in the initial row, but violence quickly escalated as Adara youths started attacking a nearby Hausa neighborhood, burning down houses, and killing residents. The 24 hour curfew was promptly enacted over all of Kaduna after the killings took place. A local police commissioner has announced that 22 people were arrested in connection to the attacks after the dispatch of special police forces to the area.
President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement expressing his concern and provided assurance that “the federal government and its law enforcement agencies will work with the state government and community leaders to ensure the full restoration of peace and security.” The New York Times received a statement from Buhari’s spokesman that conveyed the same concern. It stated, “the frequent resort to bloodshed by Nigerians over misunderstandings that can be resolved peacefully is worrisome.” The governor of Kaduna, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai also spoke on the event and promised to prosecute those responsible for the attacks.
The Nigerian government acted quickly to assure its people a restoration of peace. It’s extremely important that civil violence becomes intolerable and less prevalent in Nigeria, so that peace and stability may come to the country. As long as president Buhari, his governor, and police officials throughout Kaduna keep a united front on this issue, their promises should not go unfulfilled. Violence begets violence and that is why civil discourse is the only way tensions between groups can diminish.
Unfortunately, the recent fatalities are not unique to Nigeria. Communal violence has been a reoccurring issue in recent years due to ethnic and religious tensions between the mostly Christian south and Muslim north. According to The New York Times, Nigeria also faces the problem of increasingly scarce resources, which cause land disputes between farmers and cattle herders. The intermingling of religious tension and land disputes between factions have lead to the deaths of over 1,300 people in the past two years alone. Insurgents from Boko Haram, a terrorist group based in the northeastern part of the country that has bombed cities, burned towns, abducted and killed civilians, and imposed other violent acts on the country, also acts as a continual threat to peace and stability in the region.
Nigeria is a newly independent country that has taken multiple steps to stabilize and democratize. However, the bloodshed that has taken over is an exceptional threat to the integrity of the country, and the lives of its citizens. Conflict without resolution will undoubtedly play a large role in the upcoming presidential elections in February. If Buhari wants to win the trust of his people, he needs to take a stand against the terrorism of Boko Haram, and prosecute those responsible for the increasing violence between religious factions in Nigeria.