Hundreds arrested after deadly riots in north Nigeria

KADUNA, Nigeria -- Police in northern Nigeria have arrested hundreds of people after deadly protests in opposition strongholds in the mostly Muslim north following President Goodluck Jonathan’s election victory.

By Joe Bavier And Njuwa Maina (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 20 Apr 2011, 5:51 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:52 PM

At least 80 people have been killed in major cities alone, hundreds injured and thousands displaced by the violence after Jonathan won Saturday’s vote. His rival, northerner and ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, says the result was rigged.

Those perceived to be supporters of the ruling party have been stabbed, hacked and shot to death by angry youths since Jonathan, a Christian southerner, defeated Buhari. Churches, mosques, homes and shops have been set ablaze.

The morgue at the Bara Dikko hospital in the city of Kaduna was overflowing. It had 20 bodies in its cold chambers. The charred remains of at least another 20 lay on the floor.

Kaduna’s deputy police commissioner, Nwodibo Ekechukwu, said hundreds of people had been arrested.

“We’re talking of over 400 suspects. They are in police custody. They were arrested for various acts of mischief, criminality and homicide,” he said.

Police further north in Kano, the region’s most populous city, said at least 50 people were arrested there.

Health workers collected blackened corpses in the streets of Kaduna on Tuesday, one of them apparently “necklaced” with a flaming tyre. A mosque was still burning, and the remains of tyres and barricades littered the streets.

POSSIBLE ELECTION DELAY

Ekechukwu said the security situation was gradually improving and that a 24-hour curfew was being reviewed on a daily basis. Soldiers manned checkpoints every few hundred metres in parts of the city.

But there was also unrest in smaller towns where the military presence was not so heavy. The burned out shells of trucks and cars lay along the 200 km (120 mile) stretch of road between Kano and Kaduna, a Reuters witness said.

Police in Bauchi state said four members of the National Youth Corps, which helped run elections, and two policemen were killed in an attack on Tuesday while the head of the local Christian association said 10 of its members were killed.

Homes belonging to members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices and police stations have been among the main targets.

Africa’s most populous nation is supposed to complete its cycle of elections with governorship votes in its 36 states on April 26, but diplomats question whether that will be possible in large parts of the north.

“It’s hard to see how INEC will be able to hold credible elections in states where there is an undeclared state of emergency, which is certainly the case in Kaduna,” said one Western diplomat who has been observing the polls.

“INEC urgently needs to engage all stakeholders — including security agencies and political parties — on the necessity of a partial postponement in some northern states.”

The electoral commission said no decision had yet been made about a possible delay.

“There has been no talk to that effect but the security situation is being appraised,” INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu said.



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