Some residents were reportedly killed and many houses burnt in fresh religious violence that broke out in Kasuwan Magani community in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State yesterday.
The police have deployed armed personnel in the troubled commercial town which is about 36 kilometres away from Kaduna metropolis.
According to an eyewitness account, about 20 persons were injured in the fracas between Christian and Moslem youths. Property worth millions of naira, including vehicles, were burnt by the irate youths.
The eyewitness said the crisis erupted following a misunderstanding between some Christian and Muslim youths over an alleged conversion of two Christian girls into Islam.
But some residents of the area, including Ahmadu Dogo and Jummai, told journalists that attempts by Christian and Moslem youths to stop their girls from dating their male counterparts from religions different from theirs was the major cause of the violence. They said some people were killed during the fracas.
The Sole Administrator of the local government, Aminu Rabiu, said the “disagreement among the Christian and Moslem youths led to the loss of lives, property and peace in the area.”
He said the quick response of the security agencies helped in restoring order.
“We have already evacuated the injured persons to the hospital and they are responding to treatment.”
Rabiu appealed to the residents to embrace the culture of living in peace.
The Spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mr. Murkhtar Aliyu, confirmed the incident and said security agents had been drafted to restore peace.
“There are casualties, but I cannot ascertain the number at the moment. But I can assure you, peace has been restored to the area,” he said.
In a statement, El-Rufai’s spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, said the governor directed the prosecution of the masterminds shortly after receiving a preliminary report on the mayhem.
Aruwan said the government had sympathised with the victims and their families and directed the State Emergency Management Agency to take an inventory of damage and provide relief materials immediately.
Meanwhile, clerics under the Northern Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) have condemned the religious violence.
In their reaction to the inci dent, the northern CAN’s Public Relations Officer, Reverend John Hayap said religious leaders must intensify the teaching of right doctrines to their followers.
He said it was sad for youths and followers of two prominent religions in northern Nigeria “in this age of education and technology to be fighting and killing each other because of religion or boy friend and girl friend matter.
“If they don’t have good knowledge of their faith, then their exposure to this modern era should help them stop this shameful act.”
According to CAN, leaders of these youths from both faiths should see this as a sign of failure to teach good morals and the importance of the sanctity of life.
“How can a well-informed religious person fight another because he or she befriends someone from another faith? This is not only shameful but a display of a high level of ignorance.
“Both Christian and Muslim clerics from our religions must step up their teachings to eradicate this shameful act,” he said.