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Cablegate: Nigeria: Northern Political Tidbits for Sept/Oct

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUJA #2201/01 2911324
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181324Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1202
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8082
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS ABUJA 002201

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PHUM KDEM SOCI NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: NORTHERN POLITICAL TIDBITS FOR SEPT/OCT
2007

REF: A. ABUJA 1626
B. ABUJA 1535

THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (U) This cable is a roundup of recent political
developments across northern Nigeria, including:

-- Alleged Christian-Muslim Violence Erupts in Kano
-- Sharia Court Bans Play Critical of Sharia Implementation
-- Bauchi Governor Yuguda Probes Former Governor Mu'azu

--------------------------------------------- -----
KANO: MUSLIM YOUTH ATTACK CHRISTIANS, KILLING NINE
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (U) On September 29, violence erupted in the Tudun Wada
area of Kano state, 70 miles outside Kano metropolis after a
Christian teacher allegedly displayed an offensive caricature
of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom. An altercation
ensued between Muslim and Christian youth, which eventually
dissipated following police intervention. Reportedly, nine
persons were killed and churches in Tudun Wada were razed in
the incident. Other reports alleged Muslims in Tudun Wada,
reacting against statements by the Christian Association of
Nigeria (CAN) decrying Christians who converted to Islam,
indiscriminately destroyed Christian homes and businesses in
the area.

3. (SBU) Initially, Kano government representatives denied
the incident took place, but later claimed that a scuffle
with communal not/not religious overtones broke out between
unidentified groups. On October 2, Commissioner for
Information Haruna Dederi told PolOff the Kano Deputy
Governor Abdullahi Gwarzo visited Tudun Wada on September 29
to help calm tensions and restore order. Dederi believed the
media exaggerated the incident and speculated the ruling
People's Democratic Party (PDP), in its antipathy for
Governor Shekarau (of the All Nigeria People's Party - ANPP)
and in an attempt to "sabotage" his good name, were actively
"spreading rumors" (principal amongst them, Shekarau's
ill-treatment of Kano's minority Igbo and Yoruba Christians)
against his administration.

4. (SBU) CAN promptly issued a statement condemning the
treatment of Christians in the North. In discussions with
PolOff on October 15, CAN-North Secretary Saidu Dogo claimed
the incident was a "conspiracy" instigated by the Tudun Wada
District Head and Divisional Police Officer, both of whom,
Dogo observed, have been "unwilling" to thwart violence
against Christians. Instead, Dogo argued, the police tacitly
"permitted" the town's Muslim youth to attack Christians by
not intervening in time. Dogo alleged 8 churches and the
"entire Christian commercial center" of Tudun Wada had been
destroyed by Muslim residents.

5. (SBU) Moreover, Dogo believes Governor Shekarau has long
been complicit in fomenting hostility toward Kano's large
Christian minority, stating "with a Muslim in power, the
Christians do not feel at ease" and decrying Shekarau for
policies perceived as inimical to the interests of
Christians. Dogo maintained that Christians are inadequately
represented in Shekarau's government, asserting that
Christians in order to achieve positions of political
prominence must "convert to Islam", or "flee to the Middle
Belt" to secure employment. (Note: Under heavy pressure from
inter-faith groups such as the nationally-known Bridge
Builder's Association, Shekarau appointed two Christians to
his cabinet in 2003 and used state funds to send Christians
annually to pilgrimage in Jerusalem. End Note.) Dogo also
opined that Muslims, as a result of feeling "threatened" by
the rise of the Pentecostal movement in the North,
particularly its "success" in converting significant segments
of hitherto Muslim strongholds (i.e., Sokoto, Maiduguri,
Kano), have begun lashing out at Christians.

6. (U) The GON, for its part, pledged to convene an
inter-faith conference to address latent inter-religious
discord in the North. (Note: The Nigerian Inter-Religious
Council (NIREC), co-chaired by CAN President Archbishop John

Onaiyekan and Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI) President Sultan
Muhammadu Abubakar, was created under Obasanjo to address
religious crises in Nigeria. As advisors to the GON, NIREC
has been praised for bringing prominent Christian and Muslim
leadership together and for aiding to diffuse religious
tensions following riots over the past several years. NIREC
is scheduled to meet October 17 to discuss the Tudun Wada
incident. End Note.)

7. (SBU) BACKGROUND: The Tudun Wada area of Kano state is
almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians.
Sporadic disagreements, even violence have afflicted Tudun
Wada for well over a decade highlighting palpable unease
between indigenous residents (predominantly Muslim, both
Hausa-Fulani and a smaller group called the Maguzawa) and
settlers (mainly Christian, Igbo or Yoruba) who have come to
populate and compete over scarce resources in areas of the
North. To be sure, the surge in Pentecostal evangelism
especially over the past two decades in Muslim-dominated
areas of the North as well as confirmed reports of
inequitable employment practices have stoked already thorny
relations between Christians and Muslims. While Governor
Shekarau is claiming to have re-established order in Tudun
Wada, the media did not sensationalize the incident, and the
police quickly restored peace in the area, such events can be
seized upon for political-cum-religious ends. END BACKGROUND.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
SHARIA COURT BANS PLAY CRITICAL OF SHARIA IMPLEMENTATION
--------------------------------------------- -----------

8. (U) On October 9, the Kaduna Sharia court banned the sale,
distribution, and staging of a play entitled The Phantom
Crescent, which reproaches former governor of Zamfara state
Ahmed Yerima (1999-2007), who championed the re-introduction
of Sharia criminal law in the North in 2000, for politicizing
the Sharia and employing Sharia criminal punishments solely
against the poor. (Note: The implementation of Sharia
criminal law across the 12 northern states has been
criticized by human rights groups and certain Muslim scholars
for failing to curb political corruption and improve
governance, as Yerima had promised. End Note.)

--------------------------------------------- --------
BAUCHI: GOVERNOR YUGUDA PROBES FORMER GOVERNOR MU'AZU
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (U) On September 16, Nigerian dailies reported former
Bauchi governor Ahmadu Mu'azu (PDP) was facing investigation
by Bauchi state authorities over his administration's
management of state resources during his 1999-2007 tenure as
governor. (In September 2006, Mu'azu's name appeared on the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) list of 31
governors under investigation for alleged corrupt practices,
but he is not currently under investigation by the EFCC).

10. (SBU) The feud between Mu'azu and newly-elected Bauchi
Governor Isa Yuguda goes back several years. Yuguda served
as Minister of Aviation from 1999-2005, but was later forced
out reportedly at the behest of Mu'azu. When Yuguda unveiled
plans to contest for the governorship of Bauchi under the
PDP, Mu'azu helped obstruct his nomination. Subsequently,
Yuguda de-camped to the ANPP and won the governorship anyway.

11. (SBU) Mu'azu has since fallen on hard political times.
He failed to capture the Senate seat for Bauchi-North and
later attempted to position himself for a ministerial slot
when Yar'Adua announced the ineligibility of former governors
to such positions. A proponent of Obasanjo's third term bid,
Mu'azu has been criticized, and likely marginalized for
failing to "secure" his state's House of Assembly members'
support of the third term amendment.

12. (SBU) When Yuguda arrived in office, he reportedly found
the Bauchi state treasury empty and a state debt of 30
billion naira (USD 240 million). Reportedly, forces within
the PDP moved against Mu'azu, eventually entreating Yuguda to
indict him for misappropriation of funds. Yuguda initially
requested an audit of the state's local governments'
accounts, which revealed that 8 billion naira (USD 60
million) had been diverted for Mu'azu's private use, leading

him to indict many permanent secretaries from Mu'azu's
administration.

13. (SBU) Yuguda is currently entertaining the prospect of
returning to the PDP. (Note: Other northern politicians who
left the PDP for the ANPP -- including some ANPP leaders, and
to a lesser extent, the Action Congress (AC), are considering
the same option. End Note.) The PDP withdrew its electoral
tribunal petition challenging Yuguda's victory at the April
14 polls and have since, by and large, joined Yuguda's
coalition government. No outstanding petitions challenging
Yuguda's election remain in Bauchi.
PIASCIK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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