The Muslim community does not support the attack on Christians.
by Obed Minchakpu
MAYOLOPE, Nigeria, March 7, 2005 (Compass) — Muslim militants attacked the Christian community in Demsa village, Adamawa state, northern Nigeria, on Friday, February 4, killing 36 people, destroying property and displacing about 3,000 others. The surviving Christians have taken refuge in Mayolope village in the neighboring state of Taraba.
Alhaji Saleh Jatau, a Muslim who spoke to Compass in Mayolope, confirmed the attack on Demsa. However, he said the militants do not have the support of the Muslim community when they attack Christians.
“I am appealing that the government should act quickly to end this conflict. We have lived in peace with Christians, but now some of us [Muslims] have decided to cause problems between us,” Jatau told Compass.
“I have lived with Christians in our village for 51 years, and I have never witnessed any crisis where people are being killed without caution as it happened that day. Most of the people here [in the camp] have vowed never to return to the village until the government finds a lasting solution to the problems.”
While visiting the displaced Christians on February 7, Rev. Jolly Nyame, governor of the state of Taraba, expressed sadness over the attacks and said the country could progress only through peaceful coexistence.
“No community can move forward while crisis takes the center stage. It is only peace that can usher in development in the country,” he told the refugees. “Only tolerance and forgiveness can bring about peaceful co-existence among people of different religious backgrounds.”
He further said the Nigerian government needs to check the activities of Muslim militants which have provoked crises in different parts of the country.
The attack on Demsa village by Muslim militants is the second in Adamawa state. Numan, also in Adamawa, has been under siege since a religious crisis that erupted there two years ago over the killing of Pastor Esther Ethan Jinkai. The situation worsened in January when another Christian woman was killed by soldiers deployed to keep peace (see Compass Direct, “Nigerian Peace-keeping Soldiers Kill Christian Woman,” February 2).