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Cablegate: International Religious Freedom Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 ABUJA 001364

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE
NOFORN


DRL/CRA; DRL/IRF


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF NI
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT


REF: SECSTATE 66404


1. (U) The following is Embassy Abuja's submission for this
year's International Religious Freedom Report.


2. (SBU) Begin Text:


-------------------------
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
-------------------------


THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIAN PRESIDENT
OLUSEGUN
OBASANJO ASSUMED OFFICE ON MAY 29, 1999. THE 1999
CONSTITUTION PROVIDES FOR FREEDOM OF RELIGION. WHILE THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GENERALLY RESPECTED RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, IT
DID NOT ANNUL THE ADOPTION OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A STATUTES BY A
SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF NORTHERN STATES, PREFERRING TO ALLOW
INDIVIDUALS TO CHALLENGE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THESE LAWS
IN THE COURTS. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WORKED BEHIND THE
SCENES TO DEFUSE CONFLICTS, BUT THE 36 STATE GOVERNMENTS
REMAINED THE PRIMARY ACTORS IN THE ARENA OF RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM.


THE STATUS OF RESPECT FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DETERIORATED
DURING THE YEAR, AS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AN EXPANDED
VERSION OF SHARI'A LAW IN SEVERAL NORTHERN STATES
INCREASED TENSIONS BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN THE
NORTH. FOLLOWING ZAMFARA STATE'S LEAD, SOKOTO, KEBBI, NIGER,
KANO, KATSINA, KADUNA, JIGAWA, YOBE, AND BAUCHI STATES HAVE
ALL ADOPTED VARYING FORMS OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A LAW. ADHERENCE
TO THE NEW SHARI'A PROVISIONS IS COMPULSORY FOR MUSLIMS IN
SOME STATES, AND OPTIONAL IN OTHERS. THIS REPRESENTS A
CHANGE FROM PRIOR
PRACTICE, WHEN SHARI'A COURTS WERE USED EXCLUSIVELY FOR
PERSONAL LAW MATTERS (MARRIAGE, HEREDITARY CLAIMS, CHILD
CUSTODY, ETC.) AND CIVIL LITIGATION. THE SHARI'A CRIMINAL
STATUTES DO NOT CRIMINALIZE APOSTASY OR CONVERSION, AND DO
NOT APPLY TO CHRISTIANS. AS SUCH, THEY HAVE NOT DIRECTLY
INHIBITED THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF CHRISTIANS OR MUSLIMS.
WITH THE ADVENT OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A, MANY NORTHERN CHRISTIANS
ARE CONCERNED THAT THEIR CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS RIGHTS WILL NOT
BE ADEQUATELY RESPECTED BY THE MUSLIM MAJORITY.


MUCH OF THE INTER-RELIGIOUS TENSION THAT SURROUNDED THE
RE-INTRODUCTION OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A IN NORTHERN NIGERIA HAS
ABATED. SIGNIFICANT CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS REMAIN,
SPECIFICALLY REGARDING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF MORE EXTREME
"HADD" PUNISHMENTS OF AMPUTATION AND STONING.
INTER-RELIGIOUS TENSION IN SOME NORTHERN STATES HAVE THEIR
ROOTS IN LONG-STANDING ETHNIC CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE
PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM HAUSA-FULANI MAJORITY AND A LARGE
MINORITY OF PREDOMINANTLY CHRISTIAN OR ANIMIST ETHNIC GROUPS
WITH ROOTS IN THE MIDDLE-BELT AND THE SOUTH. KADUNA STATE,
THE LOCUS OF INTER-ETHNIC AND INTER-RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN
FEBRUARY AND MAY OF 2000 THAT CLAIMED OVER 2000 LIVES, HAS
MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN INCREASING UNDERSTANDING
BETWEEN CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM ETHNIC GROUPS. OTHER STATES,
SUCH AS ZAMFARA AND GOMBE, HAVE SEEN INTER-RELIGIOUS TENSIONS
RISE. SOME GOVERNORS HAVE ENCOURAGED INTER-FAITH AND
INTER-ETHNIC DISCUSSIONS TO BENEFICIAL EFFECT. IN NEARLY ALL
NIGERIAN STATES, ETHNIC RIVALRIES BETWEEN MAJORITY
"INDIGENES" AND MINORITY "IMMIGRANTS" RESULT IN MINORITY
ETHNIC GROUPS (OFTEN PRACTITIONERS OF THE MINORITY RELIGION
IN THAT STATE) SUFFERING SOME DISCRIMINATORY TREATMENT AT THE
HANDS OF THE MAJORITY. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TOOK A
DECIDELY HANDS-OFF APPROACH TO RESOLVING ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS
CONFLICTS. THIS IS LARGELY DUE TO THE FRACTIOUS AND
POTENTIALLY VIOLENT NATURE OF NIGERIAN ETHNIC AND REGIONAL
POLITICS--BEYOND STOPPING VIOLENCE ONCE IT OCCURS, DIRECT
INTERVENTION BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN IN FACT EXACERBATE
ETHNIC TENSIONS. IT RELIES, THEREFORE, ON BEHIND-THE-SCENES
DISCUSSIONS WITH GOVERNORS AND PROVIDES DIRECTIVES ON HOW TO
MITIGATE CONFLICT WHEN IT OCCURS.


THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE EMBASSY IN ABUJA AND
THROUGH STATEMENTS FROM WASHINGTON EXECUTIVE BRANCH
SPOKESPERSONS, HAS ADVOCATED PEACEFUL RESOLUTION TO
ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN NIGERIA, AND HAS EMPHASIZED
THAT HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM MUST BE RESPECTED IN
ANY RESOLUTION OF THE SHARI'A QUESTION. THE OFFICE OF
TRANSITION INITIATIVES (OTI) AND USAID HAVE ALSO CREATED
PROGRAMS FOR CONFLICT-RESOLUTION TRAINING.


--------------------------------
SECTION I. RELIGIOUS DEMOGRAPHY
--------------------------------


THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, LOCATED IN SUB-SAHARAN
WEST AFRICA, IS 923,768 SQ. KM. (356,700 SQ. MI.), WHICH
IS AN AREA ABOUT THE SIZE OF CALIFORNIA, NEVADA, AND
ARIZONA COMBINED. THE POPULATION IS CURENTLY ESTIMATED
TO BE 120 MILLION. THERE HAS NOT BEEN AN ACCURATE
CENSUS FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES AND MANY ORGANIZATIONS
BELIEVE THAT THE POPULATION MAY SIGNIFICANTLY EXCEED THIS
OFTEN-CITED FIGURE.
ABOUT HALF THE COUNTRY'S POPULATION PRACTICES ISLAM,
40 PERCENT CHRISTIANITY, AND 10 PERCENT
PRACTICES EXCLUSIVELY TRADITIONAL INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS
OR NO RELIGION AT ALL; MANY PERSONS COMBINE ELEMENTS OF
CHRISTIANITY OR ISLAM AND ELEMENTS OF A TRADITIONAL
RELIGION IN THEIR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE. THE
PREDOMINANT FORM OF ISLAM IN THE COUNTRY IS SUNNI, MOST OF
THEM MALIKIS. THE CHRISTIAN POPULATION INCLUDES ROMAN
CATHOLICS, ANGLICANS, BAPTISTS, METHODISTS, AND A GROWING
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS OF INDEPENDENT, EVANGELICAL PENTECOSTAL
GROUPS. CATHOLICS CONSTITUTE THE LARGEST CHRISTIAN
DENOMINATION.


FOREIGN MISSIONARY GROUPS OPERATE IN THE COUNTRY AND DO
NOT FACE RESTRICTIONS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DETER
THEIR ACTIVITIES. MANY MISSIONARY GROUPS HAVE NOTED
BUREAUCRATIC DELAYS, OBSTRUCTION, AND ATTEMPTS TO EXTORT
MONEY FOR THE PROCESSING OF NECESSARY VISAS AND
RESIDENCE PERMITS FOR FOREIGNERS; HOWEVER, MANY FOREIGN
BUSINESSES AND OTHER NON-RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS EXPERIENCE
SIMILAR DIFFICULTIES. IN DECEMBER
2000, REINHARD BONNKE, A GERMAN EVANGELIST BASED IN THE
U.S., VOLUNTARILY CHOSE NOT TO HOLD RELIGIOUS SERVICES
IN KADUNA BECAUSE OF CONCERNS THAT HIS PRESENCE COULD
EXACERBATE RELIGIOUS TENSIONS IN THAT CITY.


AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THERE IS A STRONG CORRELATION BETWEEN
RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES AND ETHNIC AND REGIONAL DIVERSITY. THE
NORTH, WHICH IS DOMINATED BY THE LARGE HAUSA AND FULANI
ETHNIC GROUPS, IS PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM, WITH SIGNIFICANT
POPULATIONS OF CHRISTIANS, PARTICULARLY IN THE MIDDLE BELT
AND URBAN CENTERS. IN THE SOUTHWEST, WHERE THE LARGE YORUBA
ETHNIC GROUP IS DOMINANT, THERE IS NO DOMINANT RELIGION.
BECAUSE OF EXTENSIVE PROSELETYZING BY MUSLIMS DURING THE
JIHAD OF USMAN DAN FODIO IN THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY, ISLAM IS
PRACTICED BY A PLURALITY, IF NOT A MAJORITY, IN THE LARGEST
CITIES OF THE REGION. MANY YORUBAS PRACTICE ISLAM OR
CHRISTIANITY, WHILE OTHERS CONTINUE TO PRACTICE THE
TRADITIONAL YORUBA RELIGION, WHICH INCLUDES BOTH BELIEF IN A
SINGLE SUPREME DEITY AND THE WORSHIP OF LESSER DEITIES
BELIEVED TO SERVE AS THE AGENTS OF THAT SUPREME DEITY WITH
RESPECT TO SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF LIFE. IN THE EAST, WHERE THE
LARGE IGBO ETHNIC GROUP IS DOMINANT, CATHOLICS AND METHODISTS
ARE IN THE MAJORITY, ALTHOUGH MANY IGBOS CONTINUE TO OBSERVE
TRADITIONAL INDIGENOUS RELIGIOUS PRACTICES.


---------------------------------------
SECTION II. STATUS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
--------------------------------------


LEGAL/POLICY FRAMEWORK


THE 1999 CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF
THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE, AND RELIGION, INCLUDING FREEDOM TO
CHANGE ONE'S RELIGION OR BELIEF, AND FREEDOM TO MANIFEST
AND PROPAGATE ONE'S RELIGION OR BELIEF IN WORSHIP,
TEACHING, PRACTICE AND OBSERVANCE. AS MANY NORTHERN STATES
HAVE RE-INTRODUCED DIFFERENT FORMS OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A LAW
DURING THE PAST YEAR, THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS MUST BE
CONSIDERED: (1) DO SHARI'A CRIMINAL AND ANCILLARY STATUTES
DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY VIOLATE CHRISTIANS' FREEDOM OF
RELIGION; AND (2) DOES THE ADOPTION OF A FAITH-BASED CRIMINAL
CODE, WHICH DOES NOT PROHIBIT CONVERSION, VIOLATE THE
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF MEMBERS OF THAT FAITH PER SE?


THE SHARI'A STATUTES EXPRESSLY EXCLUDE ALL NON-MUSLIMS FROM
THEIR JURISDICTION. ONE CHRISTIAN HAS BEEN TRIED FOR ASSAULT
IN A CRIMINAL SHARI'A COURT AFTER HE VOLUNTARILY CHOSE THAT
JURISDICTION, APPARENTLY BECAUSE THE PENALTY OF CANING WAS
LESS ONEROUS THAN THE POTENTIAL PENALTY UNDER COMMON LAW. DE
FACTO DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES BY STATES AGAINST MINORITY
RELIGIONISTS--LIMITING ACCESS TO STATE CONTRACTS AND
STATE-OWNED MEDIA, REFUSING TO GRANT CERTIFICATES OF
OCCUPANCY TO MINORITY PLACES OF WORSHIP, FAILING TO PROVIDE
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION FOR MINORITY RELIGIONISTS IN PUBLIC
SCHOOLS--PREDATED CRIMINAL SHARI'A IN THE NORTH, AND ARE
PREVALENT ELSEWHERE IN NIGERIA. ANCILLARY LAWS PASSED BY
SOME NORTHERN STATES OUTLAWING PROSTITUTION, REGULATING THE
SALE AND CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL AND BARRING MIXED-GENDER
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, WHILE NOT DIRECTLY LIMITING
CHRISTIANS' RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, HAVE NONETHELESS SIGNIFICANTLY
AFFECTED THEM, AS WELL AS MUSLIMS.


WHETHER CRIMINAL SHARI'A THAT DOES NOT OUTLAW OR PUNISH
CONVERSION VIOLATES MUSLIMS' RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS OPEN TO
DEBATE. THE DETERMINATION OF THIS QUESTION SIGNIFICANTLY
AFFECTS WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THIS REPORT. ARTICLE 18
OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS OF 1948 DEFINES
FREEDOM OF RELIGION AS THE "FREEDOM TO CHANGE...RELIGION OR
BELIEF, AND FREEDOM...IN PUBLIC OR PRIVATE TO
MANIFEST...RELIGION OR BELIEF IN TEACHING, PRACTICE, WORSHIP
AND OBSERVANCES." THE CRIMINAL SHARI'A SYSTEMS RE-INTRODUCED
IN NORTHERN NIGERIA IN THE PAST YEAR DO NOT APPEAR TO VIOLATE
THIS DEFINITION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. THESE SYSTEMS DO,
HOWEVER, PROVIDE FOR INHUMAN OR DEGRADING PUNISHMENTS, AND
THEREFORE HAVE SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS. HUMAN
RIGHTS CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT SHARI'A PUNISHMENTS CAN BE
DISTINGUISHED FROM VIOLATIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF
ADHERENTS--UNLESS ADHERENTS ARE PROHIBITED BY SHARI'A FROM
CHANGING THEIR FAITH.


THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION FORBIDS THE FEDERAL OR ANY
STATE GOVERNMENT FROM ADOPTING ANY RELIGION AS A STATE
RELIGION. AS NIGERIA LACKS AN ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE, BOTH
STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS ARE INVOLVED IN RELIGION IN A
MUCH MORE DIRECT WAY THAN IN THE U.S. THIS INVOLVEMENT
INCLUDES MANDATORY RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF EITHER CHRISTIAN
OR MUSLIM RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, THE
OCCASIONAL CONSTRUCTION OF MOSQUES AND CHURCHES USING
GOVERNMENT FUNDS, AND SUBSIDIZING INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPATION IN
HAJJ AND PILGRIMAGES TO JERUSALEM, RESPECTIVELY. SOME STATE
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAVE INDICATED A DESIRE
TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION TO EXPRESSLY PERMIT THE ADOPTION
OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A CODES IN MAJORITY MUSLIM STATES.


THE CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS
TO ESTABLISH A FEDERAL SHARI'A COURT OF APPEAL AND FINAL
COURT OF APPEAL; HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT HAD NOT YET
ESTABLISHED SUCH COURTS BY YEAR'S END. AS MENTIONED ABOVE,
SOME STATES HAVE EXPANDED SHARI'A JURISDICTION TO INCLUDE
CRIMINAL MATTERS. THESE COURTS MAY BE USED FOR BOTH CIVIL
AND CRIMINAL CASES BY MUSLIMS. IN SOME STATES, SHARI'A
CRIMINAL JURISDICTION OVER MUSLIMS IS MANDATORY, WHILE IN
OTHERS IT IS OPTIONAL. IN ALL OF THESE STATES, IF A
CHRISTIAN IS IN A CIVIL DISPUTE WITH A MUSLIM, HE OR SHE CAN
OPT TO HAVE THE CASE HEARD IN A SHARI'A, RATHER THAN A COMMON
LAW COURT.


SOME CHRISTIANS HAVE ALLEGED THAT THE REINTRODUCTION
OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A, COUPLED WITH THE CONTINUED USE OF STATE
REVENUE TO FUND THE CONSTRUCTION OF MOSQUES, TRAINING FOR
ALKALIS (MUSLIM JUDGES), AND PILGRIMAGES TO MECCA,
CONSTITUTES THE ADOPTION OF ISLAM AS A STATE RELIGION.
PRESIDENT OBASANJO IN NOVEMBER 1999 EXPRESSED THE VIEW THAT
THE EXPANDED SHARI'A PROVISIONS WERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
HOWEVER, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DID NOT INTERVENE LEGALLY DUE
TO REGIONAL, ETHNIC AND POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS. IT HAS
OPTED TO ALLOW DEFENDENTS TO CHALLENGE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY
OF SHARI'A CRIMINAL STATUTES THROUGH THE COURTS. NO APPEALS
WITH ADEQUATE LEGAL STANDING HAVE YET MADE THEIR WAY THROUGH
THE APPELATE SYSTEM.


NIGERIA JOINED THE ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC CONFERENCE
(OIC) IN 1986 UNDER PRESIDENT IBRAHIM BANBANGIDA. IT
HAS RETAINED THAT MEMBERSHIP AND CONTINUED TO SEND
REPRESENTATIVES TO MEETINGS DESPITE MISGIVINGS THAT THIS
UNDERMINES THE CONCEPT OF A SECULAR STATE. (NOTE: THE
OIC INCLUDES A NUMBER OF SUB-SAHARAN STATES THAT ARE MEBERS
DESPITE BEING CONSTITUTIONALLY SECULAR AND HAVING
MINORITY MUSLIM POPULATIONS. END NOTE.)


EACH YEAR, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DECLARES THE FOLLOWING
ISLAMIC AND CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL DAYS AS
NATION-WIDE HOLIDAYS: EID-EL-KABIR, EID-EL-FITR, GOOD
FRIDAY, EASTER MONDAY, EID-EL-MAULUD, AND CHRISTMAS DAY.


CHRISTIAN AND ISLAMIC GROUPS ARE SUPPOSED TO REGISTER
WITH THE CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION (CAC) WHEN
BUILDING A NEW CHURCH OR MOSQUE. THE LAW REQUIRES THAT
A BOARD OF TRUSTEES BE NAMED, A NOTICE BE PLACED IN
THREE NATIONWIDE NEWSPAPERS OF THE GROUP'S INTENT TO
ORGANIZE, AND TRUSTEE INFORMATION SENT TO THE CAC. IF
NO OBJECTIONS ARE RECEIVED, THE GROUP CAN PROCEED WITH
ITS MEETINGS. THIS LAW WAS PUT INTO EFFECT IN ORDER TO
STEM THE PROLIFERATION OF NEW BUILDINGS IN THE ABSENCE
OF ZONING LAWS, TO RESOLVE LEGAL QUESTIONS ARISING FROM
DISPUTES OVER CHURCH OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL, TO PROVIDE A
SINGLE REGISTRY FOR GOVERNMENT REFERENCE IN
THE EVENT THAT COMPENSATION IS DEMANDED FOLLOWING CIVIL
DISTURBANCES, AND TO ALLOW FOR LEGAL SOLEMNIZATION OF
MARRIAGES.


THE CONSTITUTION STATES "NO PERSON ATTENDING ANY PLACE
OF EDUCATION SHALL BE REQUIRED TO RECEIVE RELIGIOUS
INSTRUCTION OR TO TAKE PART IN OR ATTEND ANY RELIGIOUS
CEREMONY OR OBSERVANCE IF SUCH INSTRUCTION, CEREMONY, OR
OBSERVANCE RELATES TO A RELIGION OTHER THAN HIS OWN."
DESPITE THESE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES, PUBLIC
SCHOOL STUDENTS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, REGARDLESS OF
THEIR FAITH, WERE SUBJECTED TO MANDATORY ISLAMIC OR
CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
OF NIGERIA (CAN) LEADERS HAVE VOLUNTEERED TO PLACE
TEACHERS OF CHRISTIANITY IN ZAMFARA AND SOKOTO STATE
SCHOOLS WHERE STUDENTS ALLEGE THEY ARE BEING FORCED TO
TAKE COURSES IN ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE IN ORDER TO
GRADUATE.
GOVERNORS FOR BOTH STATES SAID THEY WERE NOT AWARE OF
THE PROBLEM BUT WELCOMED THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF
NIGERIA'S OFFER OF ASSISTANCE
TO PROVIDE THE STUDENTS WITH QUALIFIED CHRISTIAN
TEACHERS.


LIKEWISE, THE LACK OF COURSES IN ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
AND
THE INABILITY TO CONDUCT MORNING DEVOTIONS IN OYO STATE
RESULTED IN OVER 1,500 STUDENTS PROTESTING AT STATE
GOVERNMENT OFFICES IN IBADAN ON DECEMBER 5, 2000. THE
STUDENTS ALSO ALLEGE THAT THEY WERE BEATEN BY CHRISTIAN
SEMINARY STUDENTS FROM A NEIGHBORING SCHOOL DURING PROTESTS
AT THE SCHOOL.


--------------------------------------------- --
SECTION III. RESTRICTIONS ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
--------------------------------------------- --


RELIGIOUS BELIEF OR ADHERENCE IS NOT REQUIRED FOR
MEMBERSHIP IN REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTIES. HOWEVER, IN
MAY 2001, TWO MEMBERS OF THE ZAMFARA STATE ASSEMBLY -- IBRAHIM
MUSA MURAI AND ABDULLAHI MAJIDADI KURYA -- WERE
SUSPENDED BY THE HOUSE FOR THREE MONTHS FOR NOT
SUPPORTING BILLS INTRODUCED BY GOVERNOR AHMED SANI.
THEY WERE ACCUSED OF NOT SHOWING FULL SUPPORT FOR A
COMPULSORY CLOSING OF BUSINESSES, SCHOOLS, AND HOSPITALS
DURING FRIDAY PRAYERS AND AN ENFORCED ZAKKAT (ALMS)
PAYMENT TO ASSIST THE NEEDY.


UNTIL THE OUTBREAK OF WIDESPREAD RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN
FEBRUARY
2000 AND AGAIN IN MAY 2000, NEITHER
THE FEDERAL NOR STATE GOVERNMENTS DISCOURAGED FREEDOM OF
ASSEMBLY FOR PEACEFUL RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES. HOWEVER,
SEVERAL NORTHERN STATE GOVERNMENTS BANNED OPEN AIR
PREACHING AND PUBLIC RELIGIOUS PROCESSIONS IN 2000. SUCH
BANS WERE VIEWED AS NECESSARY PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURES AFTER
APPROXIMATELY 2,000 PEOPLE DIED IN SHARI'A-RELATED VIOLENCE
NATIONWIDE. THE KOGI STATE GOVERNMENT ENACTED SUCH A BAN ON
MARCH 1, 2000. THE KADUNA STATE GOVERNMENT FOLLOWED SHORTLY
THEREAFTER, ENACTING A BAN ON ALL FORMS OF "PROCESSIONS,
RALLIES, DEMONSTRATIONS, AND MEETINGS IN PUBLIC PLACES."
GOMBE STATE OFFICIALS, ON MARCH 23, 2000, ARRESTED 19
REPORTEDLY PEACEFUL PEOPLE FOR "UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY CAPABLE OF
CAUSING A BREACH OF PEACE IN THE STATE." THOSE PEOPLE WERE
ALLEGEDLY MEETING FOR RELIGIOUS PURPOSES. TO DATE, NONE
OF THESE BANS HAS BEEN FORMALLY LIFTED ALTHOUGH STATE
GOVERNMENTS HAVE ALLOWED PERMITS ON A CASE-BY-CASE
BASIS. IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE COUNTRY, LARGE
OUTDOOR RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS CONTINUED TO BE COMMON.


FOLLOWING SHARI'A-RELATED VIOLENCE IN KADUNA AND ABIA
STATES, SEVERAL NORTHERN STATE GOVERNMENTS BANNED
PROSELYTIZING, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT IT IS
PERMITTED BY THE CONSTITUTION. SOME STATES HAVE
INFORMALLY RELAXED THESE RESTRICTIONS OVER THE PAST
YEAR. OFFICIALS APPEAR TO USE THE "REASONABLE MAN ON
THE STREET" JUDGEMENT AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE
PROSELYTIZING BORDERS ON HARASSMENT.


THERE WERE REPORTS BY CHRISTIANS IN ZAMFARA STATE OF THE
STATE GOVERNMENT RESTRICTING THE DISTRIBUTION OF
RELIGIOUS (CHRISTIAN) LITERATURE. LAST YEAR, BISHOP SAMSON
BALA, OF GUSAU DIOCESE, SAID THAT THE STATE RADIO STATION HAD
"CLOSED
ITS DOORS TO CHRISTIANS." "COMMERCIALS AND PAID
ADVERTISEMENTS CONTAINING CHRISTIAN LITERATURE ARE NOT
ACCEPTED--ONLY ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS ARE AIRED."
TO DATE, CHRISTIAN GROUPS REPORT NO CHANGE IN THIS
SITUATION. SIMILAR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE USE OF
STATE-OWNED MEDIA FOR MUSLIM PROGRAMMING HAS BEEN REPORTED IN
THE SOUTH.


THE MILITARY'S CHAPLAINCY CORPS INCLUDES IMAMS, CATHOLIC
PRIESTS, AND PROTESTANT PASTORS FOR SOLDIERS OF
VARIOUS FAITHS. THERE ARE NO REPORTS OF DISCRIMINATION
OR NON-ADVANCEMENT TO SENIOR POSITIONS IN THE MILITARY
DUE TO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. NO ONE RELIGIOUS FAITH
DOMINATES THE SENIOR RANKS. TRADITIONALLY, MORE SOUTHERNERS
JOINED THE MILITARY THAN NORTHERNERS, AND THEREFORE
CHRISTIANITY MAY PREDOMINATE IN THE MILITARY AS A WHOLE.


CHRISTIAN STUDENTS IN NORTHERN PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAVE
ALLEGED THAT THEY ARE BEING FORCED TO STUDY ISLAMIC
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR FAITH, IN ORDER
TO GRADUATE. THEY ALLEGED THAT THE TEACHING OF
CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE, HOWEVER, HAS BEEN BANNED.
THE SPEAKER OF THE ZAMFARA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, WHEN
CONFRONTED WITH THIS ACCUSATION BY A LOCAL HUMAN RIGHTS
ORGANIZATION, DENIED IT, SAYING THAT TO THE BEST OF HIS
KNOWLEDGE, THE TWO RELIGIONS WERE BEING TAUGHT SIDE-BY-
SIDE. GOVERNORS FROM ZAMFARA AND SOKOTO STATES HAVE
ALSO DENIED THAT CHRISTIAN STUDENTS CANNOT ACCESS
BIBLICAL OR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION CLASSES. THEY HAVE
INDICATED, HOWEVER, THAT SCHOOLS IN RURAL AREAS MAY NOT
HAVE QUALIFIED TEACHERS OF THE SUBJECT MATTER AND THAT
STUDENTS IN THESE SCHOOLS HAVE A RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF THE
OTHERWISE REQUIRED KORANIC KNOWLEDGE CLASSES.


THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA OFFICES IN ZAMFARA
AND SOKOTO ALLEGE THAT CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY
(CO'S), WHICH ARE REQUIRED IN ORDER TO SHOW TITLE TO
LAND, ARE BEING DENIED OR DELAYED TO CHRISTIANS. WHEN
QUESTIONED ABOUT SPECIFIC
ALLEGATIONS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF USG OFFICIALS,
ZAMFARA AND SOKOTO STATE OFFICIALS DENIED THAT
DISCRIMINATION WAS BEHIND THE FEW CASES CITED BY CAN.
INSTEAD, THEY POINT OUT THAT THE CERTIFICATION BOARDS
ARE DEALING WITH A HUGE BACKLOG OF CASES FOR ALL PEOPLE,
REGARDLESS OF RELIGIOUS FAITH, BECAUSE PREVIOUS MILITARY
GOVERNMENTS HAD SIMPLY STOPPED ISSUING THE CO'S. THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ZAMFARA STATE HAS BEEN UNABLE TO
RETAKE POSSESSION OF A CLINIC IT ONCE OWNED THAT WAS
CONFISCATED DURING A
PERIOD OF MILITARY RULE IN THE 1970S. THE CHURCH
HAS BEEN UNABLE TO OBTAIN A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY TO
REOCCUPY THE BUILDING AND LAND THAT ADJOINS IT HOUSE OF
WORSHIP. HOWEVER, RENEWAL OF THE CO FOR THE CHURCH
ITSELF WAS APPROVED.


CHRISTIANS IN THE NORTHERN, PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM AREA OF
THE COUNTRY, ALSO ALLEGED ATTEMPTS BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS TO USE ZONING REGULATIONS TO STOP OR SLOW THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. OFFICIALS HAVE
RESPONDED THAT MANY OF THESE NEW CHURCHES ARE BEING FORMED IN
TRADITIONALLY RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE NOT ZONED
FOR RELIGIOUS PURPOSES. THE HOMEOWNER'S NEIGHBORS ARE FORCED
TO ENDURE INCREASED TRAFFIC, PARKING DIFFICULTIES, AND
ADDITIONAL NOISE AS THE HOME-BASED CHURCH'S MEMBERSHIP GROWS.


ALTHOUGH THE EXPANDED SHARI'A LAWS TECHNICALLY DID NOT APPLY
TO CHRISTIANS, THE CHRISTIAN MINORITY, ESPECIALLY IN ZAMFARA
STATE, WAS UNAVOIDABLY SUBJECTED TO MANY OF THE SOCIAL
PROVISIONS OF THE LAW. IN ZAMFARA, THE SEPARATION OF THE
SEXES IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES AND THE BAN ON
ALCOHOL SALE AND CONSUMPTION HAVE INEVITABLY AFFECTED
CHRISTIANS IN THE STATE. IN ZAMFARA STATE, CHRISTIAN
ASSOCATIONS HAVE ARRANGED FOR PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
FOR CHRISTIAN FEMALES SO THAT THEY ARE NOT FORCED TO WAIT FOR
FEMALE ONLY TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED BY THE ZAMFARA STATE
GOVERNMENT. SOKOTO STATE'S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IS RUN
COMPLETELY BY PRIVATE OPERATORS. THE GOVERNOR HAS EXPLAINED
THAT IF THE PRIVATE OPERATORS CHOOSE NOT TO CARRY FEMALE
PASSENGERS BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS, THE STATE
CANNOT COMPEL THEM TO DO SO.


REGARDLESS OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL SENTIMENTS ABOUT SHARI'A,
ALL MUSLIMS IN STATES THAT RETURNED TO CRIMINAL SHARI'A WERE
MADE SUBJECT TO THE NEW SHARI'A CRIMINAL CODES. AS NOTED
ABOVE, THE VERY NOTION OF A CRIMINAL LAW WHOSE JURISDICTION
IS DETERMINED BY THE FAITH OF DEFENDANTS MIGHT BE ARGUED TO
BE AN INFRINGEMENT ON THEIR FREEDOM OF RELIGION. IN ZAMFARA
STATE, MUSLIMS HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO HAVE ALL CASES HEARD BY
A SHARI'A COURT. OTHER STATES THAT HAVE ADOPTED SHARI'A LAW
STILL ALLOW MUSLIMS TO CHOOSE COMMON LAW COURTS FOR CRIMINAL
CASES IF THEY CHOOSE, BUT SOCIETAL PRESSURE MAY FORCE MOST TO
USE THE SHARI'A COURT SYSTEM.


IN ZAMFARA STATE, RECENT PROPOSED LAWS INCLUDE A DRESS
CODE FOR WOMEN THAT BANS SHORT SKIRTS AND TROUSERS, THE
MANDATORY CLOSING OF SHOPS ON FRIDAYS, AND BANNING OF VIDEO
RENTAL
CLUBS. THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA BRANCH IN
ZAMFARA STATE HAS PROTESTED THESE NEW LAWS TO THE ZAMFARA
STATE GOVERNMENT. THEY WERE REPORTEDLY TOLD THE FIRST LAW IS
FOR PUBLIC DECENCY AND THAT THE SECOND ONLY
APPLIES TO MULSIM BUSINESSES.


IN MARCH 2001, A CIVIL RIGHTS CONFERENCE ON SHARI'A WAS
CANCELED IN KADUNA DUE TO FEARS OF POTENTIAL VIOLENCE
FROM VIGILANTE GROUPS.
IN MARCH 2001, JOURNALISTS COVERING THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF SHARI'A LAW IN BAUCHI STATE WERE WARNED BY GOVERNOR
ADHMADU MU'AZU THAT THEY WOULD BE PROSECUTED IF THEY WROTE
NEGATIVELY ON HOW SHARI'A LAWS WERE ENACTED IN THE
STATE.


IN APRIL 2001, THE KATSINA ARTS AND MUSICIANS
ASSOCIATION WROTE TO THE KATSINA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
PROTESTING THE ARREST AND DETENTION OF SIRAJO MAI-
ASHARALLE. MAI-ASHARALLE WAS ARRESTED BY THE RUNDUNAR
ADALCI VIGILANTE GROUP WHILE PERFORMING MUSIC AT A LOCAL
FUNCTION. THE PERFORMANCE OF MUSIC AND DANCING WAS
BANNED UNDER THE SHARI'A LAW INTRODUCED BY KATSINA
STATE. THE AMA CITED THIS AS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL BAN ON
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.


---------------------------
ABUSES OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
---------------------------


IT IS UNCLEAR WHETHER SHARI'A PUNISHMENTS THAT VIOLATE THE
HUMAN RIGHTS OF MUSLIMS ALSO VIOLATE THEIR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
PER SE. BECAUSE OF THAT AMBIGUITY, THE FOLLOWING INCIDENTS
OF SHARI'A PUNISHMENTS ARE INCLUDED UNDER THIS SECTION.


THE GOVERNMENT OF ZAMFARA STATE AMPUTATED THE HAND OF
LAWAL ISA BUZU, A CONVICTED BICYCLE THIEF, ON MAY 3,
2001. THE VICTIM VOLUNTARILY SUBMITTED TO THE FULL
SHARI'A PROCEEDINGS, INCLUDING AMPUTATION, AND CHOSE NOT
TO APPEAL THE DECISION. FOLLOWING THE AMPUTATION, LAWAL
REPORTEDLY THANKED ALLAH FOR ALLOWING HIM TO ACCEPT THE
VERDICT AND THANKED GOVERNOR AHMED SANI FOR
REINTRODUCING SHARI'A LAW.


IN JANUARY 2001, ZAMFARA STATE OFFICIALS CANED 14-YEAR-OLD
BARIYA MAGAZU FOR FORNICATION. THE UNMARRIED MAGAZU RECEIVED
100 LASHES AFTER BEARING A CHILD OUT OF WEDLOCK, WHICH THE
ALKALI--IN VIOLATION OF SHARI'A PRECEPTS--CONCLUDED WAS
CONCLUSIVE PROOF OF FORNICATION. (COMMENT: THE COURT
MISREPRESENTED HER AGE AS 17 IN ORDER TO CIRCUMVENT THE
SHARI'A PRINCIPLE THAT GIRLS UNDER CERTAIN AGES DO NOT HAVE
THE CAPACITY TO CHOOSE TO HAVE SEX. END COMMENT). MAGAZU
REPORTEDLY WAS FORCED BY HER FATHER TO PROVIDE SEXUAL FAVORS
TO THREE MEN TO WHOM HE OWED DEBTS. SHE NAMED THE MEN IN
COURT, BUT INSTEAD OF PROSECUTING THEM FOR STATUTORY RAP, THE
COURT FORCED MS. MAGAZU TO PRODUCE THE REQUIRED FOUR
WITNESSES TO THE SEXUAL ACT TO CORROBORATE HER TESTIMONY.
THIS WAS REPORTEDLY DONE TO PROTECT THE MEN, WHO, BECAUSE
THEY WERE MARRIED, WOULD HAVE POTENTIALLY BEEN SUBJECT TO
STONING FOR ADULTERY. BECAUSE SHE COULD NOT "PROVE" THAT THE
MEN SHE NAMED HAD HAD SEX WITH HER, THE SHARI'A COURT HANDED
DOWN A SENTENCE OF 100 LASHES FOR FORNICATION AND 80
ADDITIONAL LASHES FOR BEARING FALSE TESTIMONY. MAGAZU
APPEALED AND THE SENTENCE WAS
TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED. ZAMFARA STATE JUDICIAL AUTHORITIES
REFUSED TO STAMP THE LEGAL APPEAL AS HAVING BEEN RECEIVED BY
THE COURT, AND THE JUDGE EXECUTED A REDUCED SENTENCE OF 100
LASHES. MAGAZU'S APPEAL IS STILL PENDING.


OTHER CONVICTED MUSLIM CRIMINALS IN SHARI'A LAW STATES WERE
SUBJECTED TO PUBLIC CANING FOR VARIOUS MINOR OFFENSES SUCH AS
PETTY THEFT, CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL, AND ENGAGING IN
PROSTITUTION. THOSE WHO HAD THE SENTENCES CARRIED OUT WERE
MOST LIKELY POOR AND HAD NO LEGAL REPRESENTATION AT THE TIME
OF TRIAL. (NOTE: CANING EXISTS AS A PUNISHMENT AVAILABLE TO
COMMON LAW JUDGES THROUGHOUT NIGERIA, AND IS BY NO MEANS AN
EXCLUSIVELY SHARI'A-BASED PUNISHMENT. END NOTE.)


THERE WERE NO REPORTS OF RELIGIOUS DETAINEES OR
PRISONERS.


A NUMBER OF STATE-SANCTIONED AND VIGILANTE SHARI'A
ENFORCEMENT GROUPS HAVE FORMED IN SHARI'A STATES. IN
JANUARY, CRIMINAL YOUTHS POSING AS SHARI'A ENFORCERS BEAT
LIVINUS OBI, AN IGBO CHRISTIAN, FOR ALLEGEDLY SELLING BEER IN
KANO. THEY ALSO INVADED HIS HOME, STOLE MONEY AND LIQUOR AND
BROKE BOTTLES OF BEER. ALTHOUGH THE ASSAILANTS WERE BROUGHT
BEFORE A SHARI'A COURT ON CHARGES OF ASSAULT AND THEFT, OBI
LATER DROPPED THE CHARGES BECAUSE HE FELT INTIMIDATED
TESTIFYING AGAINST HIS NEIGHBORS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE
ATTACK. MILITARY BASES ARE CONSIDERED SHARI'A-FREE ZONES
UNDER THE NEW LAWS, BUT ON AT LEAST ONE OCCASION, DELIVERY OF
ALCOHOL TO A BASE WAS FORCIBLY INTERDICTED BY KANO VIGILANTES.


---------------------------
FORCED RELIGIOUS CONVERSION
---------------------------
THERE WERE NO REPORTS OF THE FORCED RELIGIOUS CONVERSION
OF MINOR UNITED STATES CITIZENS WHO HAD BEEN ABDUCTED OR
ILLEGALLY REMOVED FROM THE UNITED STATES, OR OF THE
REFUSAL TO ALLOW SUCH CITIZENS TO BE RETURNED TO THE
UNITED STATES.
--------------------------------------------- --------
IMPROVEMENTS AND POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN RESPECT FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
--------------------------------------------- --------


THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO
HAS SHOWN A GREATER RESPECT FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS THAN THE MILITARY REGIMES OF THE PAST. WHILE THE NEW
SHARI'A CRIMINAL CODES DO NOT EXPLICITLY DISCRIMINATE AGAINST
CHRISTIANS, THEIR IMPLEMENTATION APPEARS TO HAVE A
DISCRIMINATORY IMPACT ON CHRISTIAN MINORITIES IN THE NORTH.
VICE PRESIDENT ATIKU ABUBAKAR RECENTLY PLEDGED TO VISIT THE
TEN STATES WHERE SHARI'A LAW HAS BEEN ENACTED TO FIND WAYS TO
PROTECT ADHERENTS OF MINORITY RELIGIONS FROM VIGILANTE GROUPS
AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAWS.


CURFEWS, BANS ON LARGE RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS OUTSIDE OF
TRADITIONAL HOUSES OF WORSHIP, BANS ON RELIGIOUS
PROCESSIONS, AND BANS ON PROSELYTIZATION REMAIN IN
EFFECT IN MANY STATES FOLLOWING THE MAYHEM OF THE FEBRUARY
AND MAY 2000
SHARI'A-RELATED RIOTS. HOWEVER, LOCAL AND STATE
AUTHORITIES, WHERE THESE BANS HAVE BEEN IN EFFECT, HAVE
RELAXED THEM IN PRACTICE.


GOVERNOR MAKARFI OF KADUNA STATE HAS PROVIDED
400 MILLION NAIRA (APPROXIMATELY 3.63 MILLION USD) TO
PAY RESTITUTION TO VICTIMS OF THE FEBRUARY 2000 RIOTS.


KADUNA, ABIA, AND LAGOS STATES CONTAIN SOME OF NIGERIA'S
LARGEST CITIES, MARKETS, AND HOUSES OF WORSHIP. THEY
ALSO SHARE LARGE NUMBERS OF RESIDENTS OF MINORITY
FAITHS. SINCE THE OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE LAST YEAR, THESE
GOVERNORS HAVE TONED DOWN HARSH RHETORIC AND FOCUSED ON
SHARED ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES INSTEAD. GOVERNOR MAKARFI OF
KADUNA STATE RECENTLY VISITED MANY SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE-BELT
STATES TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE LOSS OF LIFE TO THEIR INDIGINOUS
PEOPLE WHO MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED DURING THE KADUNA RIOTS. HE
EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPECTING DIVERSITY IN
NIGERIA'S MULTI-ETHNIC AND MULTI-RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, AND
ENCOURAGED THOSE WHO HAD LEFT THE STATE TO RETURN. THIS TYPE
OF
LEADERSHIP AND INITIATIVE HAS REDUCED THE RHETORICAL HEAT
THAT SPARKED
LAST YEAR'S RIOTS AND PREVENTED FURTHER ROUNDS OF
VIOLENCE BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN THESE STATES'
MAJOR CITIES.


IN SEPTEMBER 2000, GOMBE STATE GOVERNOR ABUBAKAR HASHIDU
SET UP A JUDICIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE
THE CAUSES OF THE RELIGIOUS CLASH THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE
CITY OF BAMBAM IN 2000. THE SEVENTEEN-MEMBER COMMITTEE
INCLUDES BOTH CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS.


IN FEBRUARY 2001, THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY,
REV. GEORGE CAREY, MADE A VISIT TO ZAMFARA
STATE AND SPOKE WITH GOVERNOR AHMED SANI ON PRACTICAL
WAYS THAT CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS CAN CO-EXIST. GOVERNOR
SANI PROVIDED HIM WITH A HIGH PROFILE WELCOME AND OPEN
DEBATE ON THE MERITS OF SHARI'A LAW AND SOME OF ITS
PUNISHMENTS. STATE GOVERNORS IN ZAMFARA, SOKOTO, KANO, AND
KADUNA STATES HAVE BEEN WILLING TO MEET WITH A VARIETY OF USG
OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS THE 2000 RELIGIOUS RIOTS, THE ENACTMENT
OF SHARI'A LAW, AND ATTEMPTS TO ALLAY MINORITY RELIGIOUS
GROUP CONCERNS. LIKEWISE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN
RECEPTIVE TO USG DEMARCHES AND INFORMAL DISCUSSIONS ON
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ISSUES.


-------------------------------
SECTION III--SOCIETAL ATTITUDES
-------------------------------


NIGERIAN LAW PROHIBITS RELIGIOUS OR ETHNIC
DISCRIMINATION. NONETHELESS, THERE WERE COMMON REPORTS OF
INDIRECT DISCRIMINATION BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AGAINST
PERSONS FROM DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS OR FAITHS, MOST NOTABLY
IN HIRING OR AWARDING CONTRACTS. PRIVATE BUSINESSES
FREQUENTLY ENGAGE IN INFORMAL ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS
DISCRIMINATION IN THEIR HIRING PRACTICES AND PURCHASING
PATTERNS. THIS IS PARTLY DUE TO THE CULTURE PRACTICE OF THE
SPOILS SYSTEM: BOTH IN POLITICS AND IN BUSINESS, IT IS
UNDERSTOOD THAT ONE REWARDS MEMBERS OF ONES OWN ETHNIC GROUP
WHERE POSSIBLE. THIS ETHOS OF GOVERNMENT EXPLAINS THE
IMPORTANCE NIGERIANS ATTACH TO THE ETHNICITY OR RELIGIOUS
PERSUASION OF THEIR PRESIDENTS OR MILITARY RULERS.
RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES IN NIGERIA USUALLY CORRESPOND TO
REGIONAL AND ETHNIC DIFFERENCES. BECAUSE OF THE JIHAD OF
USMAN DAN FODIO, THE NORTHERN REGION AND MUCH OF THE
MIDDLE-BELT ARE OVERWHELMINGLY MUSLIM, AS ARE THE LARGE HAUSA
AND FULANI ETHNIC GROUPS OF THAT AREA. BECAUSE THE BRITISH
PREVENTED CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES FROM WORKING TO CONVERT
NORTHERN MUSLIMS, IMMIGRANTS FROM THE SOUTH WERE HISTORICALLY
THE ONLY CHRISTIANS IN THE NORTH DURING THE COLONIAL ERA.
CURRENTLY, MANY OF THE SMALLER ETHNIC GROUPS IN THE MIDDLE
BELT THAT WERE NOT CONVERTED TO ISLAM HAVE ADOPTED
CHRISTIANITY OR AN ADMIXTURE OF CHRISTIANITY AND TRADITIONAL
BELIEFS. CONVERSELY, BECAUSE THE JIHAD REACHED AS FAR SOUTH
AS YORUBALAND, A SUBSTANTIAL PERCENTAGE OR YORUBA ARE MUSLIM.
MOST SOUTHERN ETHNIC GROUPS, HOWEVER, ARE PREDOMINANTLY
CHRISTIAN OR ANIMIST. CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO
DISTINGUISH RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC CONFLICT OR DISCRIMINATION,
BECAUSE THE TWO USUALLY OVERLAP. IT CAN BE SAID, HOWEVER,
THAT ETHNICITY ALMOST ALWAYS TRUMPS RELIGION IN THESE
CONFLICTS. THIS WAS EVINCED BY THE KILLING OF SOUTHERN
MUSLIMS IN THE NORTH DURING THE KADUNA RIOTS, AND HAUSA
CHRISTIANS DURING REPRISALS IN THE SOUTH.


THE SHARI'A CRISIS BEGAN WITH THE SIGNING INTO LAW OF
TWO BILLS BY THE ZAMFARA STATE GOVERNOR ON OCTOBER 8,
1999, AIMED AT INSTITUTING ISLAMIC SHARI'A LAW IN HIS
STATE. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAW BEGAN ON JANUARY 22.
FOLLOWING ZAMFARA'S LEAD, SOKOTO, KEBBI, NIGER, KANO,
KATSINA, KADUNA, JIGAWA, YOBE, AND BAUCHI STATES BEGAN
THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTING VARYING FORMS OF EXPANDED
SHARI'A. BORNO STATE HAS DECLARED THAT SHARI'A CRIMINAL LAW
WILL TAKE EFFECT IN JUNE 2001.


SHARI'A CRIMINAL LAW WAS PRACTICED IN THE NORTH UNTIL THE
ADVENT OF COLONIAL RULE. WITH SOME MODIFICATIONS, SUCH AS
OUTLAWING AMPUTATION AND STONING, THE SHARI'A SYSTEM
CONTINUED THROUGHOUT THE COLONIAL ERA. THIS MODIFIED SHARI'A
WAS SUBSUMED, ALMOST VERBATIM, UNDER THE SECULAR "NORTHERN
NIGERIAN PENAL CODE" (NNPC) PRIOR TO INDEPENDENCE. SHARI'A
CIVIL COURTS CONTINUED TO OPERATE THORUGHOUT THE NORTH,
MAINTAINING JURISDICTION OVER PERSONAL AND FAMILY LAW FOR
MUSLIMS, AND SETTLING CIVIL DISPUTES BETWEEN MUSLIMS. THE
RE-INTRODUCTION OF CRIMINAL SHARI'A ESSENTIALLY ALLOWED
SHARI'A COURTS--INSTEAD OF COMMON LAW JUDGES--TO APPLY
SUBSTANTIVE SHARI'A CRIMINAL LAW, MOST OF WHICH WAS CONTAINED
IN THE NNPC. THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE IS THAT AMPUTATION
AND STONING WERE POSSIBLE PUNISHMENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME
SINCE PRE-COLONIAL TIMES.


STATES ALSO PASSED LAWS OUTLAWING GAMBLING, PROSTITUTION AND
THE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL BY MUSLIMS. WHERE THE STATE
AUTHORITIES HAVE FAILED TO UPHOLD THESE
PROVISIONS, NEWLY FORMED VIGILANTE GROUPS HAVE STEPPED
IN TO ENFORCE THE NEW LAWS, AND IN SOME CASES, PUNISH
OFFENDERS. IN ZAMFARA STATE, GOVERNOR AHMED SANI HAS
VESTED THE LOCAL VIGILANTE GROUP WITH FULL POWERS OF
ARREST AND PROSECUTION SINCE HE BELIEVES THAT THE POLICE
ARE NOT ENFORCING THE NEW SHARI'A LAWS. LIKEWISE,
GOVERNOR SAMINU TURAKI OF JIGAWA STATE HAS MOBILIZED A
STATEWIDE SHARI'A ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE TO ARREST,
DETAIN, AND PROSECUTE MUSLIM OFFENDERS.


IN KANO STATE, AN UNOFFICIAL VIGILANTE GROUP, ALSO KNOWN
AS HISBAH, HAS BEGUN TAKING ACTION AGAINST BOTH MUSLIMS
AND CHRISTIANS WHO VIOLATE THE NEW SHARI'A LAWS. IN
FEBRUARY, YOUTHS IN THE HISBAH ATTACKED A TRUCK BRINGING
ALCOHOL TO A MILITARY BASE IN KANO STATE. THE SAME
WEEK, THEY ATTACKED THE NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS
PRESS CENTER IN KANO BASED ON ALLEGATIONS THAT ALCOHOL
WAS SERVED ON THE PREMISES. ON APRIL 14, 2001, KANO
STATE DEPUTY GOVERNOR ABDULLAHI UMAR GANDUJE LED
VIGILANTE ENFORCERS AND NATIONAL POLICE FORCE OFFICERS TO
FIVE OF KANO'S LARGEST HOTELS TO ORDER THEM NOT TO SELL
ALCOHOL. DURING THE VISITS TO SOME HOTELS, UNOFFICIAL
VIGILANTE OFFICIALS BROKE LIQUOR BOTTLES AND ENGAGED IN MINOR
VANDALISM. ON APRIL 16, THE UNOFFICIAL HISBAH BURNT DOWN THE
HENZINO HOTEL, AN ESTABLISHMENT KNOWN FOR SERVING ALCOHOL IN
A PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM NEIGHBORHOOD.


IN APRIL, SOME KANO STATE HOTELS STOPPED RENTING
CONFERENCE HALLS TO CHRISTIAN GROUPS FOR FEAR OF BEING
TARGETS OF THIS VIGILANTE VIOLENCE.


BESIDES THE ACTIVITIES OF OFFICIAL AND UNOFFICIAL
VIGILANTE GROUPS, THERE WERE VARIOUS REPORTS OF
MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN CLASHES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.


ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2000, FOLLOWING THE VISIT OF A COMMITTEE
SAMPLING PUBLIC OPINION ON THE INTRODUCTION OF SHARI'A
IN GOMBE STATE, A RIOT BROKE OUT IN THE CITY OF BAMBAM.
SOME SURVIVORS SPECULATED THAT THE ATTACK WAS STARTED BY
PEOPLE FROM THE NEARBY DADIYA AND TULA COMMUNITIES.
GOVERNOR ABUBAKAR HASHIDU STATED THAT EIGHTEEN MUSLIMS
LOST THEIR LIVES DURING THE RIOTING. IN
ADDITION TO THE LOSS OF LIFE, A NUMBER OF MOSQUES,
CHURCHES, SHOPS, HOMES, AND VEHICLES WERE DESTROYED IN
THE RIOT.


IN LATE NOVEMBER 2000, YOUTHS ATTACKED RESIDENTS IN
HADEJIA LOCAL COUNCIL IN JIGAWA STATE OVER ALLEGEDLY
BLASPHEMOUS STATEMENTS MADE AGAINST THE PROPHET
MOHAMMED. AT LEAST ONE PERSON DIED IN THE VIOLENCE AND
A NUMBER OF CHURCHES AND STORES WERE BURNED DURING THE
RAMPAGE.


IN JANUARY 2001, APPROXIMATELY A THOUSAND YOUTHS
DESTROYED LOCAL HOTELS, SHOPS, AND HOMES IN YOLA
(ADAMAWA STATE) FOLLOWING ANECLIPSE OF THE MOON THAT
THEY BLAMED ON PROSTITUES AND THE HOTELIERS THAT
ALLOWED THEM TO OPERATE.


ON FEBRUARY 24, 2001, AS MANY AS FIVE PEOPLE WERE KILLED
AND AT LEAST TEN WOUNDED WHEN YOUTHS CLAIMING TO BE SHI'ITES
CLASHED WITH POLICE DURING A PROTEST FOLLOWING THE VISIT OF
ISRAELI AMBASSADOR ITZHAK OREN TO GOMBE STATE. THE YOUTHS
ALSO BURNED TWO CHURCES AND A NIGHTCLUB DURING THE MELEE.


IN MAY, VIOLENCE AGAIN ERUPTED IN GOMBE STATE DURING
LEGISLATIVE DEBATE ON THE INTRODUCTION OF SHARI'A LAW.
CHRISTIAN GROUPS OPPOSED TO THE TWO BILLS BEING
CONSIDERED ORGANIZED PROTESTS WHICH DEVOLVED INTO
VIOLENT ATTACKS. ACCORDING TO A GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN,
THERE WERE INJURIES, A NUMBER OF SHOPS WERE LOOTED, AND
ONE MOSQUE AND ONE CHURCH WERE BURNED DOWN IN A RIOT IN
THE TOWN OF KUMO.


-----------------------------------
SECTION IV. U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY
-----------------------------------


EMBASSY REPRESENTATIVES REGULARLY ENGAGE FEDERAL, STATE, AND
LOCAL OFFICIALS IN DISCUSSIONS ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
ISSUES. WHILE SOME STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS MAY NOT
ADOPT SUGGESTIONS MADE DURING DEMARCHES OR VISITS BY USG
OFFICIALS, THEY HAVE BEEN RECEPTIVE AND POLITE IN THESE
DISCUSSIONS AND HAVE OFTEN BEEN WILLING TO ENGAGE IN
SPIRITED DEBATES DEFENDING THEIR POSITIONS.


FEDERAL AND STATE OFFICIALS WERE HIGHLY RECEPTIVE TO AN
OFFICIAL FACT-FINDING VISIT BY MEMBERS OF THE UNITED
STATES COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN
SEPTEMBER 2000.


DESPITE ASSURANCES BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS THAT
CERTAIN SHARI'A RELATED PUNISHMENTS SUCH AS AMPUTATION
WOULD BE HELD IN ABEYANCE UNTIL THE COURT SYSTEM COULD HANDLE
APPEALS REGARDING THE CONSITUTIONALITY OF SHARI'A-BASED LAWS,
ZAMFARA STATE OFFICIALS CARRIED OUT A SECOND AMPUTATION. NO
OTHER STATES HAVE FOLLOWED SUIT. EMBASSY OFFICIALS EXPRESSED
CONCERN TO ZAMFARA STATE.


EMBASSY OFFICIALS FREQUENTLY DISCUSS THE POLITICAL AND
SOCIAL SITUATION WITH VARIOUS RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO
PLAY A PROMINENT ROLE IN CIVIL SOCIETY AND IN THE HUMAN
RIGHTS COMMUNITY. EMBASSY OFFICERS ALSO RAISED
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ISSUES WITH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS,
RELIGIOUS LEADERS, AND NGO LEADERS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE
EMBASSY'S OVERALL EFFORTS TO PROMOTE RESPECT FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS.


4. (U) POC ON REPORT EDITS ARE MITCHELL MOSS, POLOFF
AMEMBASSY ABUJA, 234-09-523-2073, UNCLASSIFIED E-MAIL
MOSSMR@STATE.GOV; AND KATHLEEN
FITZGIBBON, POLCHIEF AMCONSULATE LAGOS, 234-1-261-5698,
UNCLASSIFIED E-MAIL FITZGIBBKA@STATE.GOV.

SIPDIS


Jeter

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