Nigeria: Dying For the Faith

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February 6, 2010: President Umaru Yar'Adua remains hospitalized in Saudi Arabia, refusing to turn over presidential power to the vice president. Meanwhile, the courts and state governors have  called for declaring vice president Goodluck Jonathan as acting president. But it hasn't happened yet. Yar'Adua has many supporters in the government, including most of the ministers, who fear losing their jobs if the vice president takes over. There is also fear of increased violence in the Niger Delta, where local rebels are waiting for benefits Yar'Adua promised and Goodluck Jonathan may not be inclined to deliver.

Meanwhile, in Jos, over 300  people were arrested, and 108 charged with conspiracy and weapons possession. Nearly 400 people were killed in the recent ethnic/religious violence. This was the latest clash between Christian and Moslem Nigerians, which in the last decade has left over 13,000 dead. There are still over 15,000 refugees from the Jos violence, living in camps outside the city.

January 30, 2010: In the Niger Delta, an oil line was ruptured. At first it was believed to be a resumption of rebel attacks on the oil companies, but was later found to be a botched attempt to tap into the oil pipeline in order to steal oil. No group took responsibility for attacking the pipeline, which got authorities to suspect that it was thieves, not terrorists, at work.

January 29, 2010: MEND, and a several former rebel leaders,  have declared the ceasefire is ended. The rebel group is angry at the government, which has been unable to do much for the last two months because the president, who negotiated the peace deal, has been in Saudi Arabia getting medical treatment. Technically, MEND did not participate in the peace deal, but most of the MEND leaders and their followers did. Thousands of rebels turned in their weapons, and the security forces are still all over the Delta. If the rebels resumed the fight, they would do so at a big disadvantage. Most people in the Delta are still hoping the government will come through with what was promised in the peace deal.

January 28, 2010: In southern Bayelsa State, 25 children have died in a measles outbreak. The victims belonged to a fundamentalist Christian sect that believes in faith healing, and avoids vaccines and other medications. Thousands of unvaccinated children caught measles during this outbreak.

 

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