So far the exact toll from the latest bout of religious rioting in northern Nigeria is not clear. At least 150 have died and the toll may well go higher.

The killings are bad enough, but the north has experienced much worse within living memory. One of the bloodiest outbreaks of religious rioting occurred in Kano in 1980, and northern cities saw a series of upheavals during the decade that followed.

The Kano riots, led by Muhammadu Marwa, a Muslim preacher otherwise known as "Maitatsine", were  put down by the army.

Reporting nearly 30 years ago on the Kano disturbances, Lagos Radio quoted the then defence minister, Iya Abubakar, as saying: "The armed forces have successfully dislodged religious fanatics from areas occupied by them in Kano.

"Hostages captured by the fanatics have been set free and are being kept by the infantry brigade in Kano."