US embassy cable - 01ABUJA1364

INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT

Identifier: 01ABUJA1364
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA1364 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-06-14 16:43:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PHUM KIRF NI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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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