Editor's note: The writer of this piece, Kingsley L Madueke, brings to fore how religion has divided Nigerians and how the former always effortlessly finds its way in every issue affecting the nation. According to Madueke, religion is the first factor a Nigeria consider before deciding whether a crime has been committed by a fellow Nigerian or not.
When Nigerians hear about a rape, they want to know if the victim is Christian or Muslim. That someone just got raped is not the issue, no. That someone should face justice is not the concern. The most pressing question for Nigerians is “how can a Christian rape a Muslim” or “how can a Muslim rape a Christian?”
If someone gets knocked down by a vehicle, Nigerians don’t want to know how hurt the person is. They urgently must know if the victim is Christian or Muslim. They look at the driver’s mode of dressing, does it look Christian or Muslim. They check the prayer beads hanging down the rearview mirror, is it a Crucifix, a Rosary or a Misbaha, a Tasbih? A Christian driver knocking down a Muslim in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood may mean mob action and the death of the driver, and vice versa.
When someone is murdered, Nigerians ask for the name. No, they’re not interested in the person per se. They want to hear the name to help determine if the person is Christian or Muslim. They want to know if it’s a Mohammad or a Mathew. If the perpetrator and the victim are of different religions, it ceases to be a crime, it is a religious war. The victim becomes a martyr to his co-religionists, and the killer a hero to his.
When government sites an infrastructure, we ask if the area is predominantly Christian or Muslim. We then check if the man at the top is Christian or Muslim. If the location and the benefactor share the same religion, we cry foul. If they don’t, we keep quiet and move onto something that confirms our biases. We bear the curse of confirmation bias.
When terrorists and bandits attack villages in Plateau state, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, and Yobe, Nigerians call it a religious war. The victims are not human beings, no, they are Christians. The killers? They are not terrorists, no, they aren’t criminals either; they are Muslims. So rather than strategise on how to bring culpable persons to justice, Nigerians invest unbelievable amounts of energy and man-hours debating Christianity and Islam.
And when these deadly marauders leave behind the charred remains of hundreds of women and children, we don’t bat an eyelid, no. These victims are not human beings, they’re Christian. We don’t condemn it because they got what they deserve: “how dare they come against Muslims?”
So, when a military general goes missing earlier in September, all Nigerians are concerned with is whether he is Christian or Muslim. When the vehicle of the missing soldier is found in a mining pond in a village in Plateau state, all Nigerians want to know is if this pond is located in a Christian or Muslim community. Once it’s established that Du is predominantly Christian, the soldier ceases to be a human being and the yet to be identified perpetrators cease to be criminal suspects, everyone becomes either Christian or Muslim. Now, the villagers are labeled “Berom Christian Terrorists” and the victim a Muslim martyr that is killed for his religion. These conclusions are coming even before the military issues a definitive statement on General Alkali’s whereabouts.
There are no human beings in Nigeria, only Christians and Muslims.
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