The government is using the
police and army to assist political gangs that are attacking opposition
campaigning efforts. Last weekends local elections were often invalid because
of the intervention of the more powerful government backed gangs. This weekends
presidential elections appear to be headed in the same direction. If that
is the case, the country will have un-elected government at the state and
national level. That, plus the usual corruption, could be enough to trigger the
long feared civil war. Then again, Nigerian politics has evolved into a
"survival of the fittest" contest, and that would mean just another
African dictatorship. This is far more common than civil war in Africa.
April 18, 2007: In the northern city of Kano,
police and soldiers killed at least 25 people as they sought those responsible
for yesterdays attack on a police station. Kano is one of twelve northern
states, where the Moslem majority has voted to use Islamic law (Sharia). But
there are numerous Islamic groups that battle each other over exactly how
Sharia should be interpreted and enforced.
April 17, 2007: In the northern city of
Kano, Islamic militants attacked a police station, killing twelve policemen,
and the wife of one of the cops. The police blame the spread of Islamic
fundamentalism on radical clerics, and their followers, coming from nearby
April 13, 2007: Unidentified gunmen killed a
prominent, and conservative, Islamic cleric in the northern city of Kano. Ustaz
Jaafar Adam was shot while leading early morning prayers. The cleric had been a
supporters of the Kano state governor, but had recently turned on the governor.
The government immediately mobilized additional police and troops, as they
expected Adams followers to turn violent.
April 11, 2007: Political violence leading up
to state and local elections this weekend have left at least seventy dead. That
number will probably double by the day after the election. The violence stems
from the custom of politicians hiring local thugs to intimidate opposition
voters, break up rallies and generally interfere with the other sides efforts.
To remain competitive, all the major parties get themselves gangs. The national
and state governments have not been able to shut down this practice. The thugs
are often criminal enterprises that tend to their usual felonies (theft,
extortion, prostitution, you name it) the rest of the year. The politicians use
a lot of the money they steal, to pay off the gangsters. The thugs don't just
intimidate voters, but will often go to polling placed on election day and
forcibly cast votes for their guy.
April 9, 2007: The Niger Delta separatist
group MEND says it has two Turkish engineers who were kidnapped two days
ago. MEND wants a ransom, not political demands (like freeing jailed MEND