Soyinka: Nigeria Heads for Civil War

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By Sunday Okobi
This Day

Miffed by the security challenges in the country, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012, warned that the country was heading towards a civil war, blaming political leaders who spread religious intolerance.

While a mosque and Islamic school have been attacked and set ablaze in Benin-City, Edo State yesterday, according to a police source in the state, the Greater Accra Police Command has impounded a truck load of ammunition said to be on its way to Nigeria.

Two people, a Ghanaian and a Nigerian had been arrested, Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Rose bio Atinga, confirmed in an interview with Joy News reporter, Annie Osabutey.

Speaking to the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) World Service, Soyinka said he agreed with President Goodluck Jonathan that the current unrest was worse than the 1960s civil war, stressing: “It’s not an unrealistic comparison — it’s certainly based on many similarities. We see the nation heading towards a civil war.”

Asked whether the unrest threatened the state of Nigeria itself, Soyinka replied: “It is going that way. We can no longer pretend it’s not. When you’ve got a situation where a bunch of people can go into a place of worship and open fire through the windows, you’ve reached a certain dismal watershed in the life of that nation.”

Soyinka said the issues raised by Boko Haram, which was blamed for violence targeting Christians in the north of Nigeria and has sparked fears of a wider religious conflict, had been brewing for some time.

“There are people in power in certain parts of the country, leaders who quite genuinely and authoritatively hate and cannot tolerate any religion outside their own,” he said.

“When you combine that with the ambitions of a number of people who believe they are divinely endowed to rule the country and who… believe that their religion is above whatever else binds the entire nation together, and somehow the power appears to slip from their hands, then they resort to the most extreme measures.

“Youths who have been indoctrinated right from infancy can be used, and who have been used, again and again to create mayhem in the country,” he said.

He added: “Those who have created this faceless army have lost control of them.”

Meanwhile, the ammunition of interest included action guns, double-barrel guns and uncountable number of cartridges, Atinga confirmed. The truck was impounded yesterday in Achimota on its way to Nigeria. Atinga would not reveal the identities of the suspects, except thorough investigations have begun. It is not clear why the ammunition was heading to Nigeria and in whose hands they may end up.

Also the Nigerian Red Cross spokesman told the BBC that five people had been killed and six injured in the incident which followed a separate attack on a different mosque in city on Monday.

A leader of the Hausa community in Benin-City told the BBC’s Hausa Service that 7,000 northerners were seeking refuge in police and army barracks in the city, and that they were being registered at police stations and army barracks.

Two cars at the centre housing the mosque and Islamic school were also torched, police said.

The attack was the latest in a spiral of sectarian violence that has seen many southerners living in the north flee their homes.

According to BBC’s report, the latest violence started in Benin on Monday, when a group attacked a mosque, leaving 10 people injured, and also in Gusau, capital of Zamfara State, youths attacked a church. Police made 19 arrests.

A group of youths tried to attack a Hausa community leader’s house but it was defended by Hausa youths and the police then intervened.

Source: This Day

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