from Africa in Transition

Violence in Nigeria: We Have Seen This Before

April 21, 2011

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

Villagers look at bodies of victims of religious attacks lying in a mass grave in the Dogo Nahawa village, about 15 km (9 miles) to the capital city of Jos in central Nigeria, March 8, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

While attention has been focused on the violent reaction in the North to President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election, his supporters in the Niger Delta have been rattling their swords over rumors he might be denied the office. Jonathan has forged a political alliance with some former leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. They have put the international community on notice that if Jonathan is deprived of the presidency, there will be attacks on the oil industry. Similarly, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday issued a not so veiled threat that it would retaliate against Muslims (likely Hausa-Fulani traders) if the killings targeting their fellow Igbos in the North did not stop. MASSOB apparently identifies the recent spate of Christian killings in the North as related to previous attacks carried out against Igbos.

Thus far, I have seen no evidence of retaliation against Buhari supporters or Hausa Fulani in the South. However, in the past, pogroms against Christians in the North have led to reprisal attacks against Hausa-Fulani in the South. A few years ago for example, when the bodies of Christians killed in Plateau state were sent to Owerri for burial, more than seventy Hausa-Fulani were butchered as they tried to flee across the Niger River bridge.