Religious crisis in Nigeria dates back to the 1970’s and till date it still persist. The ancient city of Kano, which is noted for the groundnut pyramid back in the 1980’s, is one of the most volatile spot where religious crisis have occurred in Nigeria. Back then, a certain man named Gideon Akaluka created a provocative gesture when he tore the Holy Koran in public. The Islamic fundamentalist instantly declared a fatwa on him and they went a step further, when they break into the prison and took Gideon Akaluka away. His head was cut off and paraded on the street of Kano. That singular act instigated a religious riot that claimed the life of numerous Christians and Moslems.
What can be responsible for the continuous religious crisis in Nigeria, especially in the Northern part of the country?
The birth of the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria in the early 1980’s came with some negative effects in the Northern Nigeria. They were not careful enough to respect the culture and religion of Moslems, but rather went about winning souls and preaching the word of God with zeal and fearlessness. The traditional churches- Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic were a bit tactical in their religious activities, and hence they lived amicably among their Moslem counterpart. The coming of the Pentecostal movement however changed the whole set-up, as the Moslems became angry at their aggressive approach towards evangelism and prayers. The tension created soon escalated into a religious crisis. The Moslems on the other hand, were not willing to respect the view of each other. They felt the Christians want to Christianize their fellow Moslem brothers and they were ready to resist it with their blood.
In the Northern part of Nigeria, Christians are backward economically, as Moslem have taken up all business openings available. This has created a lot of tension among Christians and their Moslems counterpart. The distribution of wealth is uneven, because it favors the Moslems more than the Christians. This has resulted to continuous clashes between these two major religious bodies, as they try to gain relevance in the scheme of things. The anger and bitterness of being cheated remains an overriding factor in the mind of Christians.
This is also a factor that has heated up the already charged system among Christians and Moslems. It is a fact, that some notable politicians have been known to have sponsored some misguided Moslems in creating disturbance which soon degenerated into a massive war between both bodies leading to the death of innocent souls. These politicians have capitalized on the crisis to score cheap political points, by insisting that the security situation in such places, called for a state of emergency. This was the exact scenario in Plateau state more than a year ago. A curfew was imposed on the state, and Christians ran away from their homes for fear of being attacked by aggrieved Moslems. It was so serious that the Federal Government had to deploy the Army to maintain peace and order.
The issue of religious violence has always been a recurring decimal in the history of Nigeria, but the Government has continuously paid lip service to finding lasting solution to this important issue. There has always been call for tolerance, peace and unity among all religious groups, but the situation has not changed appreciably.