Nigeria

Commissions of inquiry and pathways to accountability in Plateau State, Nigeria

ABSTRACT

For decades, Plateau State in Nigeria’s Middle Belt has witnessed repeated ethnoreligious violence. Over this period, both state and federal governments have established formal Commissions of Inquiry (COIs) in response to unrest, tasked with investigating violence, identifying perpetrators, and – ultimately – strengthening accountability. While commissions’ mandates and specific outcomes varied, there is general consensus that inquiries have been largely ineffective at securing justice or establishing accountability for violence. This study seeks to understand the expectations placed on, and role of, COIs in Plateau State as pathways to formal accountability in a context of recurring violence. We argue that COIs are embedded in the complex, multilevel networks and politics of state and non-state institutions. Civil society, in turn, has diverse expectations and demands, and articulates these in fragmented ways. As a result, COIs served primarily as another avenue for interest-based negotiations.

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