Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NIGERIA: REPORT OBSCURES MUSLIM MURDERS IN KANO RIOT

Investigative committee omits Islamist causes, killings in report to state officials.

Rev. Murtala Marti DangoraKANO, Nigeria, November 28 (Compass Direct News) – A Kano state committee investigating the September 28 Muslim rioting in Tudun Wada Dankadai learned at public hearings that 19 Christians were killed, but it only reported three deaths in its interim report to state authorities.
The committee, made up of nine Muslims and three Christians, discovered from at least two official sources that 17 Muslims and Islamic preacher Isa Jihad were responsible for starting the violence, but in its report to the state government it sought to blame the disturbance on Christian students.
Inexplicably, in its report to state authorities earlier this month the committee stated that Christian students began the violent rampage when they supposedly became upset that one had converted to Islam.
The nine Muslims on the committee overruled protests by the three Christians against withholding the total number of deaths and actual causes from the state government, said the Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, a member of the committee. The panel found that Islamic agitators burned down 10 churches, 36 houses belonging to Christians, and looted and destroyed 147 Christian-owned shops.
The committee also found that the Muslim rampage displaced 350 Christian families and that there is not a single house belonging to a Christian now standing in Tudun Wada Dankadai.
Children of murdered ChristianMuslim committee members held that they could report only three killings because the other 16 could not be officially identified. During the attack, 16 victims were buried in a common grave, while three corpses were identified by surviving family members were released to them.
“When we said we should reflect the fact that 19 Christians were killed in our report, the other members who are Muslims refused,” Rev. Dangora told Compass. “What could we have done when we were a minority?”
Rev. Dangora said the committee also refused to document its findings that Muslim preacher Isa Jihad and 17 other Muslims were behind the attack on Christians – even though the names of the perpetrators originally came from the Muslim district head of Tudun Wada, Alhaji Abbas Muhammad.
“Alhaji Abbas Muhammad, while receiving the committee members in his palace, told us that he had given the divisional police officer [DPO], Saidu Idris Jatau, the names of 17 Muslims who were behind the attack on Christians and demanded that the police arrest and prosecute them,” Rev. Dangora told Compass. “But he said that the DPO, being a Muslim, refused to do so.”
When district head Muhammad again appeared before the committee to present it with the 17 names, Rev. Dangora said, “The Muslim members of our committee deliberately refused to include these names in our report.”
Instead, he said, the panel decided to report that Christian students caused the September 28 outbreak in the course of refusing to allow the conversion of a Christian student to Islam.
Alhaji Yusuf Tanko, secretary of the investigating committee, declined to comment on the matter to Compass.
The principal of Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, Alhaji Garba Najume, told the committee that a cartoon drawn on the school’s mosque caused the rampage by Muslim students in the school that led to the town riot. But he said school authorities could not identify who drew the cartoon.
Displaced Christians from Tudun Wada“The principal said it could have been anyone within or outside the school but doubted whether a Christian student could do this,” Rev. Dangora said. “The sad thing is that our Muslim colleagues on the committee instead insisted that it must have been a Christian student who did it. Despite our protest against such a judgement without evidence that a Christian student did it, the Muslim members of the committee insisted to include this in the report.”
Rev. Dangora said an officer of the State Security Service presented a report to the committee confirming that Jihad, the Muslim preacher, had been questioned and cautioned several times against inflammatory sermons against area Christians but had continued delivering such messages.
The security service report corroborated the district head’s conclusions, Rev. Dangora said, “but despite all these, the Muslim members of our committee decided against the inclusion of this in our report.”
The state established the investigative committee on October 9 to look into the immediate and remote causes of the attacks on Christians in Tudun Wada Dankadai. The committee first visited Tudun Wada to assess the extent of damages and destruction, and then it held public meetings with Muslims and Christians presenting their cases.
Those who appeared before the committee included Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa, sole administrator of Tudun Wada Local Government Council; Muhammad, the district head of Tudun Wada; Saidu Idris, divisional police officer; Najume, principal of Government College-Tudun Wada; Alhaji Umar Hamisu Kofa, zonal education officer; Alhaji Adamu Nazifi, chief imam of Tudun Wada Mosque; and the Rev. Habila Galadima, chairman of the local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
Some of the recommendations contained in the interim report of the committee include provision of relief for displaced Christians, resettlement of these Christians back to Tudun Wada town, relocation of the school to the outskirts of the town and public education of the people against intolerance.

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