The research problem of the study is “the effects of religious conflicts in Jos Plateau State and their implications for the Socio-Economic and Political development of Nigeria”. The incessant religious conflicts have become a major problem confronting the state and the nation at large. The conflicts have resulted to the death of many Nigerians and the loss of property worth billions of naira. This has led to the expression of disappointment by well-meaning people within and outside Nigeria. The researcher therefore researched into the root and remote causes of these conflicts. That’s was done through the historical method. Data was obtained from primary sources through oral interviews and self-administered questionnaires as they relate to the research topic. Randomly selected respondents and interviewees in Plateau State were used for the study. Secondly sources like the library and archives were consulted for data. The internet was equally a great source of information for the study. Findings revealed that the root and remote causes of the ethno-religious conflicts are tied to the Sharia law, intolerance, indigene/settler syndrome, unemployment, poverty, unguided utterances of religious and political leaders, lack of proper education, and absence of good governance among others. The conflicts by implication have resulted in the irreparable loss of human and material resources that could have been useful for social and economic developmental purposes of the nation. The conflicts have also posed serious consequences on the nation’s political system as it affects democratic values and norms. The researcher by way of conclusion hoped that sincere government schemes and efforts be established to achieve social, economic and political distributive justice for all people in the country. With that incessant conflicts shall be controlled.

This chapter contains the background to the study, problem statement, purpose of the study, study objectives, research questions, scope of the study, and significance of the study.

• Background to the Study
The study was about the effects of religious-based conflicts on Nigeria’s national security: the case of Jos, plateau state (2001-2024)

• Conceptual Perspective
According to Imobighe (1990), the core interest of Nigeria’s national defense policy is to ensure the nation’s survival and security. National security entails a condition, in which citizens of a country enjoy a free, peaceful, and safe environment, and have access to resources which will enable them to enjoy the basic necessities of life. Thus, the security of a state directly translates to its ability to protect its citizens, as well as national assets, from both internal and external threats. It also facilitates individuals and groups in carrying out their legitimate businesses without any significant undue hindrance. A nation’s security may be undermined by either external or internal conflicts or violence resulting from social, political, religious, and economic misunderstandings within it.

Imobighe (1990) defines national security, as a more specific concept, implying the absence of threat to life, property, and socio-economic wellbeing of a nation and its people. It is further described by Imobighe (1990), as freedom from danger, or from threats to a nation’s ability to protect and defend itself, promote its cherished values and legitimate interests, and enhance the wellbeing of its people from abroad.

From this selection of definitions, two broad perspectives can be identified. First, there is the traditional perspective in which national security is perceived as the state of military preparedness to defend a country against external threats. Second, there is the more recent and broader conceptualization of national security which encompasses, besides the state of military preparedness, such other dimensions as political security, economic security, social security and environmental security which impact on the quality of life or wellbeing of the population.

This broader view, therefore, regards national security as the ability of a country to maintain its sovereignty, protect its political, economic, social and other interests in a sovereign manner and act likewise in its relations with other states in the international system. It follows then, that national security entails the protection of all the national interests upon which the survival of the country depends. It is not only about the security of national territory and infrastructure but also, about the good life, the basic values which keep the community together and advancement in the quality of life available to the individual (William, 1987).

According to Greely (1982), the term religion comes from either the Latin word religare (meaning to read or pursue together; the same roots goes to legible and intelligent), or much more likely and generally accepted, from the term religare (to tie back, to find fast). Hence a religious man used to mean a monk tied by his vow; and the words “to bring home, ligaments and ligatures” go back to the same root for the Romans, it meant being tied back, staying connected with ancestral customs and beliefs, a kind of ancestor loyalty. Religion is value-based; as such people are usually emotionally attached to it and less tolerant of any unwelcome attack upon it (Aliyu, 2009).

Religion suggests an attempt by man to work out a relationship with a super-ordinate being often epitomized in God. Implicit in this is an interaction between religion and the society within which it functions. Consequently, because of its tendency to color relationships, religion has become a major influence in politics and crises, playing significant roles in the entire societal process especially in multi religious societies. For the early Christians, the word would originally have meant being tied back, or being connected to God. As used in Arabic and therefore in Islamic literature, religion means obedience, being in debt, restoring one’s rights, adopting as a habit, forcing, calling to account, managing, rewarding or punishing, serving, lending and so on (Aliyu, 2009). It can also be seen as a community of persons united by faith, united by a search for “the divine,” and defined by its manner of confronting the problems of human existence.

The definitions and perception that people have accorded to religion have not only differed from one historical epoch to another, but have also varied from one conventional wisdom to another. It is against this background that Marx conceived religion as “the sigh of the oppressed creature. It is the opium of the people.” The foregoing definition of religion by Marx presupposes that religion is not only a mental abstraction but also an immaterial object of drowsiness. To him, religion not only blurs the true class consciousness and rational ability of masses but further injects into them an aura and ecstasy (Karl Marx, 1932). The above views of religion depict religion as something to be denied or dismissed as belonging to the past phase of human development. In reality, however, despite the advances in science and technology, there is a growing interest in and turning towards religion throughout the world.

The collapse of communist systems has opened the gates for the return of religion to the former communist societies. All of these show that western theories of religion have been largely flawed, as religion is a rising value in the world and more people are turning to it every day. For the purpose of this study, religion is understood as the search, inherent in man, which the spirit makes in order to apprehend the infinite, the longing and endeavor of the individual with regard to his sense of unfulfilled desire for infinity (Stephen, 2009)

The term violence has attracted a wide range of definitions in literature. The Princeton Cognitive Science Laboratory defines it as “an act of aggression (as one against a person who resists); a turbulent state resulting in injuries and destruction; ferocity: the property of being wild or turbulent.” According to Abdulkadir (2011), violence is an integral part of man’s existence and a common occurrence in human societies. It could be due to differences in political ideologies, as was evident during the Cold War period, and terrorism, bad governance, ethnic nationalism, economic and religious reasons, and in some cases a combination of two or more of these factors.

A more comprehensive definition is that of Cadfy quoted by Stephen (2009) who defines it as “physical and non-physical harm that causes damage, pain, injury or fear” However, while violence may be physical or non-physical, and while it’s immediate target may be either human beings or material structures, its ultimate goal is usually to destroy the existence or degrade the dignity of a person or group of persons. This definition is considered sufficiently comprehensive and is therefore adopted for the purpose of this study.

According to University of California-Santa Cruz (2002), Religious conflicts can be described as disagreement based on differences in faith and belief. They further point out that most conflicts, referred to as religious in Nigeria may also be ethnically based, as well. Ethnic conflicts usually revolve around resource conflicts in which the conflicting groups have different distinct cultural identities. Obviously, these conflicts are not confined to any specific geo-political region of Nigeria or any part of the world. Religious violence is a term that covers all phenomena where religion, in any of its forms, is either the subject or object of individual or collective violent behavior.

Concretely, it covers both violence by religiously motivated individuals or religious institutions of any kinds, a different sect, or secular targets. Religious violence, like all violence, is inherently a cultural process whose meanings are context dependent. It may be worth noting that religious violence often tends to place great emphasis on the symbolic aspect of the act (University of California-Santa Cruz, 2002).

Since the contemporary Nigerian society is characterized by violent conflicts over ethnicity and religion, most especially in the Northern states of the country. Widespread violence and simultaneous sporadic and reprisal attacks have culminated into high level of insecurity and uncertainty to the core continued existence of Nigeria as a federal state. The recurring violent attacks have become a major phenomenon in day to day socio-political discourse in Nigeria. Many scholars opined, that, the major causes of the upheaval is a result of continues government neglect to address key issues at the point of incubation and as well lack of good governance. And to a larger extent, some scholars are already predicting civil war and the eventual disintegration of Nigerian society. The nature and composition of Nigerian state is both vital and central to the nature of various relationships that exist within it.

• Theoretical Perspective
The issues that generate the fiercest contestation include those that are considered fundamental to the existence and legitimacy of the state, over which competing groups tend to adopt exclusionary, winner takes all strategies, which include the control of state power, resource allocation, and citizenship (Osaghae, 2009). As a consequence, deeply divided states tend to be fragile and unstable because, almost by definition, there are fewer points of convergence and consensus among the constituent groups than are required to effectively mitigate or contain the centrifugal forces that tear the society apart (Osaghae, 2009). It is incontrovertible that ethno-religious and political crises have strong implications for the security of Nigeria (Nhema and Zeleza, 2008).

This study was underpinned by a combination of two theories and these are the conspiratorial explanation and the Lubeck theory (Ogbu, 1996). According to him, the religious explanation posits that in an attempt to improve the economy through social policies, there have been pandering of religious groups creating more states. The conspiratorial theory, emphasizes that the architects of religious violence have had hidden political agendas, informed by the historical indoctrination that religion and history cannot be established without political supremacy. The third model, which is the Lubeck theory, focuses on the socio-economic wellbeing of the people as being the roots of religious-based violence.

• Historical Perspective
Nigeria is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multicultural society with enormous potential for economic, social, and democratic development. However, intense conflicts and violence that manifested within it even from its earliest time under the colonial rule have made development and progress elude the country. Nigeria is usually characterized as a deeply divided state in which major political issues are vigorously contested along the lines of complex ethnic, religious, and regional divisions (Osaghae, 2009). The causes of these conflicts may not be unconnected with the way and manner religion is portrayed to its adherents and mistrust between the followers of the various religious and ethnic groups.

Religious conflicts are recurring phenomena affecting the security of many countries around the world. In a study conducted to investigate the causes of most violent conflicts, religion was found to be a crucial issue (Abdulkadir, 2011). The study found that societies that are divided along religious lines are more prone to intense and prolonged conflict than countries where people have problems arising from political, territorial and ethnic divisions (ibid). The explanation for this may lay in the belief among many believers that it is only by strict adherence to the religion that they could attain self-purification and divine acceptance in the hereafter. Religious convictions can be so strongly held that, to some adherents; it becomes a matter of life and death. Or, it could be as simple as a person’s religion being used as a convenient way of differentiating himself from someone else, especially when both are in competition for resources.

The global security environment has witnessed many religious-based conflicts in contemporary times. In India, bloody confrontations between Hindus and Muslims have frequently led to insecurity in the sub-region and even the establishment of new nation states like Pakistan and Bangladesh. The violent religious crises in countries like Northern Ireland, Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia underline the seriousness of religious-based violence. The phenomenon of religious- based violence does not only manifest itself in inter-religious settings but can also be found within adherents of the same religion. This can be seen in the case of Northern Ireland, for instance, where Christians of the Catholic and Anglican denominations battle each other. Similarly, rivalries between the Muslim sub-sects of Sunni and Shiites in Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have always been fierce and bloody (Peters, 1994).

Nigeria, one of the largest and most important countries in the less developed world, has been in the news in the last fifteen years as a major African theatre of religious violence and aggression, as has Sudan. A religious divide separates Christians and Muslims, and long-standing intra religious conflicts further divide the people. The imperfect distribution of adherents to Islam and Christianity is complicated by ethnic differences as well. The religious crises in various parts of Nigeria have continued to pose serious threats to its national security. Apart from recording heavy loss of lives, destruction of property and displacement of citizens, the problem becomes complicated as regards the choice of targets and the types of weapons deployed during these crises (Grin, 1990)The use of weapons during such crises “encourages reprisal killings, which spark off new rounds of violence between warring groups.” According to Salawu (2010), this situation inhibits the ability of security agencies to quickly defuse the crises and restore law and order. Thus, there is a tendency for the crises to escalate and become prolonged. As a result of these crises, large numbers of lives and property were lost and the States are seen by many people outside them as no go areas. Businesses are struggling to survive due to lack of investment directly resulting from the overall lack of security.

In Nigeria, an unprecedented number of conflicts arising from mostly religious-based disputes have been witnessed in some parts of the country since 1999. It has been estimated that since the transition to civilian rule in May 1999, no less than ten thousand lives have been lost to religious- based violence. Many of these conflicts were basically between Christians and Muslims, although there have been cases where members of the same sect engaged in violent conflict because of different (Ploch, 2012) interpretations of the holy books. Nevertheless, the most frequent religious conflicts have been those between Muslims and Christians like the ones that occurred in places like Sagamu in Ogun State, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, and Plateau. These conflicts threaten to transform religion in Nigeria from a unifying and edifying force into a destructive or even disintegrative social element, threatening the peace, stability and security of the country and beyond.

According to the HRW (2011) most of the religiously-motivated violence in the country in recent times has centered on the introduction of the Sharia penal code in some northern states of Nigeria. In the past decade, more than 3,800 people have been killed in inter-communal violence in Plateau State, including as many as 1,000 in 2001 in Jos and more than 75 Christians and at least 700 Muslims in 2004 in Yelwa, southern Plateau State. In November 2008, two days of inter-communal clashes following local government elections in Jos left at least 700 dead.

The International Religious Freedom (2010) reports that in January 2010, several hundred people were killed in sectarian clashes in and around Jos, including a massacre on January 19 of more than 150 Muslims in the nearby town of KuruKarama. On March 7, at least 200 Christians were massacred in Dogon Nahawa and several nearby villages. Over the next nine months, more than 120 people died in smaller-scale attacks and reprisal killings leading up to the Christmas Eve bombings and renewed sectarian clashes.

• Contextual Perspective
Sectarian and Inter-communal violence in Plateau State and northern Nigeria has a history of spreading to other regions. Following the 2004 violence in Yelwa, reprisal killings in Kano State left 200 Christians dead. Muslim attacks against Christians in the northern city of Maiduguri in 2006 led to reprisal killings of more than 80 Muslims in eastern Nigeria (HRW, 2011).

The HRW (2011) reveals that members of the security forces have also been implicated in serious abuses. In November 2008, Human Rights Watch documented 133 cases of unlawful killings by the federal police and army sent to Jos to quell the sectarian violence. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that, on January 10, 2011, at least one soldier was seen participating in the attack on Wareng village, which left 15 Christians dead.

The Human Rights Watch Report (2013) points out that the federal and Plateau State governments have not only failed to tackle the root socio-economic causes of the violence, they have also failed to break the cycle of killings by holding those responsible to account. In all but a handful of cases - 17 Hausa-Fulani men were convicted by the Federal High Court in Jos in December 2010 - the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. In the absence of effective redress through the courts, communities that have suffered violence frequently resort to vigilante justice and exact revenge by inflicting commensurate harm on innocent members of the other community.

HRW (2013) pointed out that the federal and Plateau State governments set up various committees and commissions of inquiry that have examined these issues, but the reports from these bodies, and the occasional government white paper, have mostly been shelved. Despite repeated outbreaks of violence, the government has largely ignored the findings and failed to implement the recommendations.

The federal government, however, has taken some steps to beef up security in Jos and surrounding communities since early 2010. While the military presence has had some effect in deterring and responding to attacks, the underlying causes of the reoccurring outbreaks of violence remain.

These crises are eloquent manifestations of threats to national security as they could inhibit peace and security of any country. They are also injurious and prejudicial to individual and corporate interests of the citizenry and the sovereignty of the nation. Ethnic and religious crises disrupt public order and undermine individual safety thus creating insecurity. These situations disrupt normal productive activities which erode public confidence in government to provide security and safeguard lives and property.

These conflicts in Nigeria have raised concerns in the international circles as to whether Nigeria was becoming a base for terrorist organizations (Dunmore, 2003). It is the concern for the implications of these activities on Nigeria’s security and her international relations that sparked the researcher’s interest in this study.

First, Jos Plateau State is used as a case study largely due to its centrally located position within the country. The state has an almost equal population of Muslims and Christians, which makes it extremely catastrophic whenever there is a crisis between the two religious denominations (Allen

Jr., 2013). Also, the destruction of lives and property in such instances can be enormous. Secondly, it is used as a case study because it is a border state and therefore any violence within the state might spill over to the neighboring countries. There is also the likelihood of religious violence being fueled or sponsored from outside the country.

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