After religious riots, Christians celebrate Easter in Nigeria



After religious riots, Christians celebrate Easter in Nigeria Abuja: Easter celebrations were sombre in Nigeria's troubled Jos city where communal clashes have claimed over 800 lives this year, as authorities urged residents to use the occasion to resolve differences.

Religious processions, which normally mark Good Friday, were avoided deliberately by residents of the northern central city Jos this year, partially because of the mourning as also to avoid any fresh violence.

Christian women, however, gathered on Easter day to hold a prayer session at the Polo sports ground, an area far away from the Muslim residential areas.

"Though there were no official statements restricting any religious processions but inhabitants of the city took the decision not to celebrate nor hold a procession," a resident Seriki Ojo told a news agency.

A statement issued by the military in Jos asked residents to use the Easter season to resolve their differences.

Commandant of the Special Task Force on Security in Jos, Major Gen Sale Maina thanked people of the state for the tremendous cooperation in the past weeks.

Religious violence in the city left more than 300 people, mostly Muslims, dead in January this year while a reprisal attack claimed more than 500 lives. A tense calm has prevailed in the city for most part of the year.

In Kano, a neighbouring city Christians went ahead with processions but decided to avoid areas where Muslims reside.

The Christians in Kano were accompanied by police as they observed the yearly religious ceremony of the remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Political leaders meanwhile emphasised on unity in their Easter messages.

From the capital Abuja, acting president Goodluck Jonathan urged Nigerians to serve God and humanity selflessly, while promoting unity and peace across the country.

"We must dedicate ourselves to the service of our country, continuing in love for one another even as Christ loved us. We must resolve to... uphold the virtues that strengthen our bond as a nation," Jonathan said.

In the South-Western commercial capital of Lagos, the governor, Tunde Fashola said: "Let us not take for granted God's infinite wisdom in bringing us together to live in one world and one nation irrespective of our diverse faiths, cultures, tribes and tongues as well as traditions".

Easter religious rites were observed in Lagos with processions and traditional Christian religious services where priests preached sermons and emphasised on unity and peace.

The celebrations were the same in other parts of the country apart from the north that remained relatively tense.

Since 2001, more than 2000 casualties have been recorded in violence described as religious and ethnic in Jos, the capital of Plateau State of Nigeria.

The ethnic Berom and Fulani tribes live alongside each other but the Beroms who are mostly Christians consider the Fulani who are predominantly Muslims as settlers.

PTI