THE Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has travelled to Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state after the latest outbreak of sectarian violence, which killed 55 people.
Dr Idowu-Fearon, a former Archbishop of the province of Kaduna and diocesan Bishop of Kaduna until 2015, chairs the Kaduna Peace Commission, which was set up to try to end the ethnic conflict in the region.
The latest violence broke out last weekend after a row between Muslim and Christian youths at a market in the town of Kasuwan Magani.
Dozens of people died as the violence spread. Police have said that they have arrested 22 people in connection with the fighting.
Dr Idowu-Fearon was in touch with the state governor earlier in the week to discuss the violence. He will meet the governor and tribal leaders today.
“This latest violence came as a shock, although it is not totally unexpected,” he said before he left. “The situation is tense because there are elections next year. It is always the poor that suffer when this happens. However, we don’t know all the details of what caused these killings.
“A curfew has been imposed, and I understand that there is calm now, which is good news. I urge people to pray for peace.”
A 24-hour curfew was imposed in the region immediately after the attacks last week, but Kaduna’s Security Council has since relaxed it in parts of the region to between 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. In other parts of the state, however, where there have been attempted attacks on places of worship, the state government said that the curfew would remain in effect.
In a statement, the Security Council said: “The Security Council regrets the inconvenience to residents. But the obligation to secure lives and property necessitates an uncompromising approach. Government will continue to monitor the situation and make further announcements based on the guidance of the security agencies.”
The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, said that special security forces have been deployed to hotspots in the state’s capital to restore calm.
He described the the frequent outbreaks of bloodshed in the country as “worrisome”.
“The disregard for the sanctity of human life is unacceptable,” he said.
Hundreds of people have been killed this year in outbreaks of communal violence across Nigeria. Security has become a key campaign issue before the election in February 2019 in which President Buhari will seek a second term.