Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Religious Movements and Lethal Violence in Nigeria: Patterns and Evolution

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Religious Movements and Lethal Violence in Nigeria: Patterns and Evolution

Article excerpt

Introduction

Violence has unfortunately become synonymous with the Nigerian state. Although intergroup violence predates Nigeria's independence, since independence in 1960, the Nigerian state has been in the throes of lethal violence occasioned by the intolerance between religious groups whose adherents are emotionally attached to their faith. The divergence of religious groups in the country has also worsened the negative peace that characterises inter-religious relations. What has been the case in Nigeria is contrary to the recent statement by President Prenab Mukherjee of India who avers that "religion cannot be made a cause of conflict," especially due to intolerance among religious adherents. To a great extent, religion has been made a perennial source of lethal violence. Hotspots of religious violence include Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, among other states in the North.

Oshodi (2011) also is of the opinion that the historical trajectory of the Nigerian state has been punctuated by a number of actions, inactions and contradictions which have continued to resonate with contemporary realities and challenges associated with political and socio-economic implications. According to Albert (1991, 19), "ethno-religious crises are part of the urban problem in Nigeria." Such crises had been in existence in most parts of northern Nigeria. Since the Maitastine violence and the Zagon Kataf Conflict, which culminated in the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry on the 10th of February, 1992, as well as the Danish cartoon conflict in Northern Nigeria, religious violence has become an aspect of intergroup relations. A new dimension is now the Boko Haram insurgent violence. Almost all the religions in Nigeria have high regard for human co-existence and thus discourage violent actions against neighbours. Regrettably, people responsible for the fatalities are not atheists as most of the perpetrators have a particular religious group they identify with. In fact, the fierce contest and conflict has mostly been between Muslims and Christians.

It has been noted by scholars that religion is a central part of human existence (Giddens, 1993, cited in Oraegbunam 2011, 186). And this fact has not adequately been given consideration by adherents of religious groups, hence the resurgence of violence and failure to accommodate. The centrality of this phenomenon explains why Nigeria is a heterogeneous and secular society with various religious groups such as Christianity, Islam, and ATR Secularism in this context refers to non-adoption of any particular religion as state religion, and this means that citizens are not accommodated on the basis of their religion. By implication, individuals are seen as citizens and not regarded as members of a particular religious group, as contained in chapter one and article 10 of the 1999 constitution which states that the Government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion (Ogoloma 2012, 65). The Constitution shows that citizenship is above religious affiliation and this gives every member of the state a sense of belonging.

In the pre-colonial era, Africans had different traditional belief systems, which offered them the opportunity to worship their various indigenous gods based on their traditions of origin. But everything changed with the advent of the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam. Ibenwa (2014, 6) asserts that "Christianity and Islam in Africa marked the beginning of religious pluralism on the continent, thus putting to an end the monolatric religious system that operated in the traditional African societies." Although some scholars argue that ATR is intrinsically pluralistic, it is not as pluralistic like the foreign religions. Secularism is a derivative of existential philosophy. Events in Nigeria since independence have shown that both Christians and Muslims act fundamentally as if the religions originated from the country rather than from an alien land (Danjibo 2012, 236). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.