It was to be expected and feared. To many it is a shock, a news that is similar to some scenes in the most gory, Bibilical account, but to some it was expected. Today [8th of March], Nigerian officials and human rights activists racked up the deaths of Christian Nigerian villagers to 500 (possibly more) after a weekend of village raids. What is more shocking than mostly the number of women and children being dead is the way they were killed. With machetes, guns and other weapons, Muslims particularly the Hausa Fulani [Muslim herders] set themselves upon the villages surrounding the Nigerian city of Jos where one of the locations called Dogo Nahwa contained more than 200 corpses and mass graves.
Like genocides or ‘ethnic cleansings’, the Muslim raiders offered no mercy to infants, children, and women only pausing to ask them a question or two in Fulani, a pre-dominantly Muslim-used language in Nigeria. If one did not understand, they were simply killed. A few photos and descriptions of the corpses are vivid and horrifying. Many corpses were mutilated, limbs were missing, deep gashes and cuts remained on the hardly-recognizable lumps of meat that were once human. The bodies were disposed of by using trucks and filling in mass graves, some cadavers were found hastily buried or were found in sewage pipes. Mourning was everywhere, yet songs of Christ could be heard over the dim of crying and the wailing of the wounded and affected people. Women, children, and some men were brutually cut down, some scalped for trophies, and worst of all it again provoked the long conflict between Muslims and Christians once again.
To be “fair”, the Muslims acted on behalf of their fallen bretheren where hundreds of Muslims died in villages due to Christian attacks which escalated religious/political clashes that led to riots in January. Nothing excuses this type of violence, where more than just human life was killed, but the potential of life as well. Many of the corpses were children, many ranging from a few days old to a couple of years old. This disturbing event was expected as 4 day riots from January 18th to January 22nd, 2010 occured where hundreds of people died. That event itself, not to mention the other religious conflicts between the Muslims and Christians, was enough to show an obvious social split in Nigeria: The Muslim North, the Christian South, both fighting over the “Middle Belt”, where fights are sometimes over farmland. This repugnant massacre is the product of years of religious conflict brought on by sectarian violence along with political disputes over the resources of petroleum in the Niger-Delta region.
Although the Nigerian government had imposed laws against religious violence, it has barely stopped the daily conflicts between all the diverse ethnic and religious factions, it also has little control over regional laws. For example, the Muslim North has religious laws concerning the consumption of alcohol, theft, and homosexuality and quite punishes it severely by harsh punishments ranging from executions to whippings/lashings. Furthermore, Nigeria is known to be one of the worst countries upholding or attempting to uphold basic human rights. You name it; child labor, human trafficking, rampant sexism and racism, suppression of freedoms of speech, et cetera.
While the victims’ cries rose above the corpses, more than 95 arrests were made by the government. Many arrested were members of the Hausa Fulani held responsible to be the primary antagonists of the massacres. This violent event has drawn international responses especially from the U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the U.S government. This event however gives a chance for Goodluck Jonathan, the current Vice President and Acting President of Nigeria to establish the central government’s authority immediately concerning recent religious conflicts. As of this time, the Acting President raised security along the border of the two split regions as to stop more armed groups from venturing in.
Meanwhile, acts of reprisals and more violence are more than likely to continue.