Preface from the Director,
Programs Management Department
Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has struggled with the challenge of managing its religious and political diversity. The major test of Nigeria’s ability to manage this diversity, and promote national integration, has been ethno-religious crises and their devastating effects in Plateau State, primarily in Jos, and Borno State, primarily in Maiduguri. Although violence occurs throughout Nigeria, incidents of identity-based violence in Plateau State – the second most ethnically diverse after Adamawa State – outnumber occurrences in other states. The state’s diverse population is considered to have two identities: “indigenes” and “settlers” and reflect two major religions, Christianity and Islam, respectively.
Cyclical sectarian conflicts often arise during elections and the Jos crises have resulted in grave human rights violations, polarized local society and significant material losses. This study on identity-based violence in Nigeria, generously supported through the Dutch Program Fund on the Rule of Law, offers a critical analysis through a rule-of-law lens.
Diversity, per se, is not the problem. Its management, however, presents Nigeria with a formidable challenge. A divisive interplay of politics, ethnicity and religion in Nigeria has led to rising nationalism and militancy of various ethnic and religious movements. Since the 1980s, religious extremism and riots have increased in Nigeria. Given the links between ethnicity, religion, identity and citizenship, conflicts related to each have become dominant factors weakening and dividing the country.