Religious motives underlie voter tensions; Christian’s lead at polls triggers attack.
Eyewitnesses said violence broke out in the Gani electoral ward of Sumaila on November 17 after news reports showed that the Christian candidate for councillor for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Zara Gambo, was ahead in the polls, signifying the first ever victory for a Christian in the area.
As a result, they said, Muslims attacked Christians in Gani town and in Gani Mission, a Christian settlement in the area, injuring several of them, destroying their houses and shops and killing elementary school teacher Danyaro Bala. He is survived by a wife and 11 children.
Sani Duma, Bala’s younger brother, told Compass that he believes Muslims killed the local church elder in order to cow area Christians into submitting to Islam.
“Religion is at the center of this attack on us and the killing of my brother,” Duma said. “The selection of only houses of Christians and their shops for destruction shows clearly that Muslims were out to force us into submitting to their hold on political leadership.”
Duma said that area voters are all Hausas who speak the same language.
“We are of one tribe, Hausa,” he said. “The only thing that divides them and us is religion. While we in Gani Mission are Christians, they in Gani town are Muslims. Religion is therefore the prime motive behind the attack on us, as only houses of Christians were burned.”