Nigerian students killed after election of Christian in union poll

October 13, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Nigeria, October 8, 2012: At least 46 people were killed at a college housing complex in north-eastern Nigeria as tensions flared following the election of a Christian in a student union poll.
The majority of the victims were students from Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa state. The perpetrators went from door-to-door, calling out their targets by name; they shot, stabbed or slit the throats of their victims, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”), and left the bodies in lines in front of the student accommodation.

One Christian student who managed to evade attack said:

The gunmen were asking students if they were Christians or Muslims, and then asked Christian victims to deny Christ. Christian students who refused to do so were killed by the gunmen instantly.
He said that the attackers also set fire to a church in nearby Tudun Wada.   

Nigerian police are linking the massacre to a student union leadership election, which saw tensions between the predominantly Muslim Hausas and mainly Christian Igbos who were involved. The poll was won by a Christian, who is reported to be among those killed in the attack, which happened late on 1 October.

Police have arrested 30 suspects in connection with the incident; among them are four students, who are members of Boko Haram, and 12 other members of the militant Islamist group. The attack happened just a week after officials announced that 156 members of Boko Haram had been arrested in a major security operation in Mubi that led to the death of one of the group’s leaders.

“BREAKING-POINT”

Ken Henshaw, a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students, said that the rector of Federal Polytechnic Mubi is a Christian from the South and this had already caused some tensions. He said that the election of a Christian in the student union poll “was a breaking-point and the whole thing just flipped over [into violence]”.

Tensions between different religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria are sometimes exacerbated during elections. The country is divided along sectarian lines with a predominantly Muslim North and a mainly Christian South.

The college massacre is reminiscent of the violence waged by Muslims against Christians and churches following the re-election of Christian President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2011.

Student union leaders can go on to a career in national politics. 

Christians in Mubi have previously been targeted. In January, around 20 Christians weregunned down by Muslims as they gathered to mourn the death of another Christian who had been killed the night before.

– barnabas team

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