Monday, November 7, 2011

Nigeria marks Muslim Eid amid fears of new attacks


From Wikipedia
Nigeria (Nigh-jeer-ee-a), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. In terms of religion Nigeria is roughly split half and half between Muslims and Christians with a very small minority who practice traditional religion.

The people of Nigeria have an extensive history. Archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BCE. The area around the Benue and Cross River is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BCE and the 2nd millennium.

The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined by Flora Shaw, the future wife of Baron Lugard, a British colonial administrator, in the late 19th century.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black. It is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The IMF projects a 8% growth in the Nigerian economy in 2011.

Recent history
Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 when it elected Olusegun Obasanjo, the former military head of state, as the new President of Nigeria ending almost 33 years of military rule (from 1966 until 1999) excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979 and 1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d'├ętat and counter-coups during the Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998. Although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development.

Umaru Yar'Adua of the People's Democratic Party came into power in the general election of 2007 – an election that was witnessed and condemned by the international community as being severely flawed.

Ethnic violence over the oil producing Niger Delta region and inadequate infrastructures are some of the current issues in the country.

Yar'Adua died on 5 May 2010. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn in as Yar'Adua's replacement on 6 May 2010, becoming Nigeria's 14th Head of State, while his vice,a former Kaduna state governor, Namadi Sambo, an architect,was chosen on 18 May 2010,by the National Assembly following President Goodluck Jonathan's nomination for Sambo to be his Vice President.

Goodluck Jonathan served as Nigeria's president till April 16, 2011,when a new presidential election in Nigeria was conducted. Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner on 19 April 2011,having won the election by a total of 22,495,187 of the 39,469,484 votes cast to stand ahead of Muhammadu Buhari from the main opposition party, the The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which won 12,214,853 of the total votes cast. The international media reported the elections as having run smoothly with relatively little violence or voter fraud in contrast to previous elections

From YahooNews: Nigeria marks Muslim Eid amid fears of new attacks
DAMATURU, Nigeria — Nigeria marked the Muslim feast of Eid el-Adha amid fears and tears as the US warned of possible new attacks after after deadly blasts claimed by Islamists killed 150 people in the northeast of the country.

The attacks on Friday in Damaturu were among the deadliest ever carried out by Boko Haram, an Islamist sect based in the north of Africa's most populous country.

The US embassy in Nigeria warned that the sect could next attack hotels and other targets in the capital Abuja during the Muslim holiday.

"Following the recent Boko Haram, aka Nigerian Taliban, attacks in Borno and Yobe State, the US embassy has received information that Boko Haram may plan to attack several locations and hotels in Abuja," during the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday, the embassy said in a statement.

Security was stepped up in Abuja, which has been a target of past extremist attacks, including the August 26 suicide bomb at the UN headquarters which claimed 24 lives.

Some 13,000 policemen and specialist anti-terror squads were deployed to mosques and churches and other strategic locations in the city, a police official said. Worshippers were screened by metal detectors before they entered some churches.

In the grief-stricken city of Damaturu where the 150 died, thousands of Muslims gathered for Eid el-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifices prayers at an open ground patrolled by dozens of armed police.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, who described the wave of gun and bomb attacks in the capital of Yobe state as "heinous", appealed to Muslims to pray for peace in the country as they marked Eid.

"It is a period that we are all expected to live in peace but as a nation we have our own challenges, even during this holy period we still have incidents happening here and there," he said.

While Christian churches and police were among the initial targets for the attacks, gunmen fired indiscriminately in the streets and Muslims and Christians alike were among those killed, local officials reported.

"The death toll cuts across religion, profession, status. There was no particular social stratum that was excluded," said Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman for Nigeria's emergency management agency in the northeast.

"The attack seems to have been haphazardly carried out which explains the heavy toll. Both Muslims, Christians, civilians, soldiers, policemen and other paramilitary personnel were all part of the casualties."

Eid celebrations in the sleepy and dusty city of Damaturu were low key on Sunday.

Gudusu, a 58-year-old resident who lost a brother in the attacks, voiced outrage at Boko Haram, sobbing as prayers were offered for the sibling he buried on Saturday evening.

His family called off the celebrations but simply prayed and slaughtered a ram to mark Eid al-Adha, one of the most important feasts in the Muslim calendar.

"It's a season of mourning and celebration at the same time," said another resident Aisami Bundi.

"People are struggling to strike a balance between the merriment of the season and the losses the city has incurred from the attacks, especially the large number of people that have been killed," he said.

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to the violence, saying it did "not resolve problems but increases them, sowing hatred and divisions, even among the faithful."

Boko Haram claimed Friday's rampage and warned of further attacks.

Meantime, gunmen suspected of being members of Boko Haram on Sunday shot dead a police officer at his home as he returned from Eid morning prayers in Maiduguri, the sect's base, local police chief Simeon Midenda told AFP.

Militants from Boko Haram, whose name means "Western Education Is Sin" in the regional Hausa language, have in the past targeted police and military, community and religious leaders, as well as politicians.

The sect, which wants to see the establishment of an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, staged an uprising which was brutally put down by security forces in 2009.

Nigeria's more than 160 million people are divided almost in half between Muslims and Christians, living roughly in the north and south of the country respectively. Regions where they overlap are prey to frequent tensions.

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