Christian beheaded by Muslims

Enugu, Nigeria, - Gideon Akaluka, a Christian trader from Nigeria's Igbo ethnic group, was lynched and beheaded in prison in 1994 by Muslims who invaded his cell, a top prison official told a human rights commission on Thursday.

Akaluka was killed on December 26 1994 by members of a crowd of some 1,000 Muslims, some of whom scaled the fence of the Goron Dutse prison in the northern city of Kano, the controller of the prison, Haruna Sanusi, told a hearing of human rights violations panel.

"They used a ladder to climb the wall and called him out. They broke the keys of the cell and killed Akaluka in the prison and cut off his head," Sanusi said.

The trader had been charged in court for inciting public disturbance by commiting blasphemy against Islam, and the court had remanded him in prison custody, he said.

Those who beheaded Akaluka were armed with guns, machetes, swords and knives and they held the prison warders hostage before carrying out their murder, the official added.

He said that no arrests were made at the time of the killing and Akaluka's headless body was buried later.

His killers hung his head on a pike and paraded it on the streets of Kano in a show that infuriated southern Christians in general and the Igbo ethnic group in particular.

The panel chairman, Chukwudifu Oputa ordered the police chief in Kano at the time Akaluka was beheaded to appear before him at the next sitting of the panel in Abuja.

Meanwhile, the duration of the panel's sitting has been extended by an extra week to enable it hear more petitions from the region, officials said.

It will now end its Enugu sitting on May 11.

Before the Enugu sitting, the human rights panel has held hearings in Abuja, Lagos, the southern city of Port Harcourt and the northern city of Kano.

The rights panel, modelled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is expected to present its final report to President Olusegun Obasanjo by October.

It is investigating allegations of human rights violations since the country's first military coup in 1966. - Sapa-AFP

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