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President Olusegun Obasanjo
"We must rediscover the value of dialogue"
 real 28k

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"The next few days will be crucial"
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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 22:54 GMT
Nigerian president: End this slaughter
obasanjo
President Obasanjo: Sense of outrage has been lost
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has made a sombre appeal for national reconciliation following two weeks of religious and ethnic violence that has left many hundreds of people dead.


I could not believe that Nigerians were capable of such barbarism against one another

President Olusegun Obasanjo
"We must rid ourselves of the mentality of murderousness that stems from fear and suspicion of the other person," he said in an emergency nationwide broadcast.

"We must rediscover the value of dialogue."

President Obasanjo described the recent violence as "one of the worst instances of bloodletting that this country has witnessed since the civil war".

He said that Nigerians had lost their sense of outrage and moral sensitivity after years of tyrannical military rule.

kaduna
Hundreds of people died in Kaduna
The violence erupted after some of the mainly Muslim northern states in Nigeria announced they would expand the jurisidiction of Sharia, or Islamic law.

More than 1,000 people have died in 10 days of ethnic violence. Up to 450 predominantly-Muslim ethnic Hausas were killed in a massacre by mainly-Christian ethnic Ibos in the town of Aba at the start of the week.

Hundreds of Ibos died in the northern city of Kaduna last week.

Unrest in a number of other towns claimed more lives.

Mr Obasanjo said he had been saddened and shocked by the violence.

islam
Christians oppose Islamic law
He said: "I could not believe that Nigerians were capable of such barbarism against one another."

Now governors in the north have agreed not to introduce full Sharia law.

The president said that the decision was a triumph for maturity and the preservation of Nigeria's existence.

Decisive action

Anxious not to give the impression that any one side has emerged from the terrible bloodshed as a winner or loser, Mr Obasanjo said that with peace all Nigerians were winners.

Meanwhile "law enforcement agents have been instructed to deal decisively with anyone or group who disturbs peace and order".

The president assured Nigerians of "the firm determination of our government to resist any attempt from any quarter to pursue a line that can lead to the disintegration of the country".

BBC correspondent Barnaby Phillips says the following days will be crucial for Nigeria, in particular the government will be concerned that there should be no further outbreaks of violence in the north.

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See also:

02 Mar 00 |  Monitoring
Obasanjo's peace speech
01 Mar 00 |  Africa
Nigerian riots kill hundreds
27 Jan 00 |  Africa
The many faces of Sharia
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