KADUNA, Nigeria - A spat that broke out between porters in a Nigerian town sparked violent sectarian clashes between young Christians and Muslims this week, leading to the death of 55 people.
The fight in the north-central Kaduna state started with a spat between wheelbarrow porters in the town of Kasuwan Magani on Thursday, before quickly escalating into sectarian violence.
Following the escalation and violence, Kaduna state police Commissioner Ahmad Abdur-Rahman said that 22 people had been arrested in connection with the unrest.
The top cop further said that authorities had imposed a round-the-clock curfew in the town.
Subsequently, the official presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu released a statement saying, "President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the latest communal violence in Kasuwan Magani in Kaduna state, which claimed 55 lives."
Calling the frequent use of violence in such disputes across Nigeria as "worrisome," Buhari called on community leaders to encourage tolerance and stop such discord before it could develop into violence.
He said, "Violence cannot be an alternative to peace. On the contrary, reliance on violence leads to ultimate self-destruction. Violence is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Embracing peace is a necessity."
Buhari added, "Without harmony between different groups our everyday businesses would be impossible to achieve. No culture and religion support the disregard for the sanctity of life. Peaceful coexistence is necessary for the progress of any society and its wellbeing."
According to official government data, in 2017, 80 percent of the six million people that made up the population of Kaduna State were Muslims.
The number of similar cases of violent clashes between Christians and Muslims have been on the rise in Kaduna state, causing worries in the country to rise.