This page provides a platform for informed Nigerian and non-Nigerian contributors to express their views on the conflict, its roots and potential remedies. It includes, but does not comprise solely, opinion pieces written for Nigeria Report. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of CSI.
Idioms of ethno-religious othering and conflict in northern Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Moses E. Ochonu - published 1 March 2022
As northern Nigeria continues to convulse under the weight of ethnoreligious conflict, Islamist insurgency, and rural banditry, it has become important to interrogate the nexus between the breakdown of intergroup relations and these raging conflicts. Relatedly, there is a growing imperative to locate the salient rhetorical and quotidian sources of long-simmering tensions and distrust between the region’s main religious, sectarian, and ethnic communities. As this article will show, this breakdown of trust is reflected in, and even accelerated by, the language that people use in everyday life...
How the Kaduna State government persecutes journalists who report on genocide
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Steven Kefas - published 12 January 2022
...I am a journalist from Southern Kaduna, the area of Kaduna State facing the existential threat posed by these mindless killings. When it became obvious that the massacre of people in Southern Kaduna was never going to stop, I felt that I had no option but to take on all the risks involved in telling the very horrific stories of man's inhumanity to fellowmen. These risks, which may yet include the loss of my life, have never been lost on me; but failure to do so would mean to cowardly take the side of the oppressor…
What is fuelling neo-Biafran agitation in Nigeria's southeast
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh - published 3 January 2022
Over 50 years ago, Nigeria was torn apart by a civil war, which pitted the Nigerian federal government against “Biafra”, a breakaway republic in the country’s southeast dominated by the Igbo ethnic group. The shocking brutality of the war would prefigure the many conflicts to come in postcolonial Africa. By the time Nigerian federal forces emerged victorious in 1970, over three million people had died. Today, southeastern Nigeria is witnessing a resurgence of agitation in the name of “Biafra”...
When the genocide comes, everyone will be a casualty
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo - published 16 November 2021
...Many political observers believe that Nigeria is staring at the threshold of a major genocide. All the prerequisites are on the ground. There is a pattern of systematic attacks and killings along ethnic and religious lines without accountability. As a result, in the large pool of the deprived youths roaming around Nigeria are seasoned killers who constitute a gang of veterans, disciples of what the German-American political theorist Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil”...
Insecurity and religious freedom in Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Udo Jude Ilo - published 7 September 2021
Nigeria is bleeding from a million cuts. These self-inflicted injuries – the result of relentless violence inflamed by uncontained criminality, religious extremism, and abject poverty - are fatally undermining the stability and welfare of Nigeria. Nigeria is a country disfigured by years of crass misrule and disdain for the welfare of the people. The failings of the state have denied it a monopoly of coercive force. Spheres of influence and territories have been taken over by criminals. One of the greatest casualties of this dire situation is freedom of religion...
Why Islam is different in Yorubaland and Hausaland
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Farooq A. Kperogi - published 13 July 2021
Popular narratives about Nigeria, particularly in the West, routinely dichotomize the country into a “Muslim North” and a “Christian South”. But this dichotomization elides many subtleties, such as the fact that Muslims enjoy a numerical dominion in Yorubaland in southwestern Nigeria and that Christians predominate in many northcentral states and in the northeastern state of Taraba. This piece looks at Islam in Yorubaland and how it differs from Islam in Hausaland...
Change or collapse? – A nation at the crossroads
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Dr Nicole Koeck-Maier
Nigeria is the most populous country and the key driver of economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a country with a wealth of significant cultural achievements and a progressive constitution, and it wields influence across the entire region.
Today, however, a good 60 years after independence, Nigeria is on a steep downward trajectory. Conflicts seem to erupt at every corner, in every front yard. Lacking real economic prospects, young people jump between temporary jobs, which keep them from planning for the future or building a stable employment history. Religious conflicts flare episodically on the slightest pretext. Children are being kidnapped just for attending school...
Why Southern Kaduna wants a restructured Federal Republic of Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Luka Binniyat
Abused and mismanaged, 61 years after independence [Nigeria] is in a critical condition... If a remedy is not quickly sought and applied, Nigeria may implode and perish along with all the promise it holds for itself and for humanity. In Southern Kaduna, we do not want Nigeria to die. We are joined by other areas of the country in insisting that Nigeria needs political surgery and not the severing of any of its ailing parts. We remain resolute that a radical restructuring of the most populous Black nation remains the best prescription to ensure that it is healed and all its federating organs function well for the overall wellbeing of Nigeria, its neighbours, and the world at large...
Unending jihad in Plateau State
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Masara Kim
The nearly daily attacks on Christian communities taking place in Nigeria’s Plateau State today cannot be understood in isolation from a much longer history. They are part of a tradition of jihad that has long pitted Nigeria’s Fulani Muslim states and armed movements against its indigenous non-Muslim peoples, and which today threatens the future of all of Nigeria...
Nigerian “bandits” as terrorists by another name?
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Farooq A. Kperogi
Spectacles of bloodcurdling Boko Haram mass murders in northern Nigeria have now been eclipsed by the mass abductions for ransom and nihilistic violence of an unstructured, leaderless gang of outlaws known alternately in the Nigerian media as “bandits” and “Fulani herdsmen”. But who are these bandits? Why are they known by different names even they are the same people? Are they, in fact, Boko Haram in a different guise?...
Amid fears of civil war in Nigeria, agitation for restructuring goes north
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Moses E. Ochonu, March 2021
On 17 February, the Nigerian online newspaper, Peoples Gazette, published a rather shocking story. Mohammed Enagi, who represents Niger South constituency in the Nigerian Senate, accused President Muhammadu Buhari, a member of his own APC ruling party, of incompetence in matters of security. Such intra-party criticism is rare, especially when directed at the president...
“Every 24 hours a Christian community is attacked in Southern Kaduna”
CSI interview with Luka Binniyat, Spokesperson of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) by Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh, February 2021
What is behind the persecution of Christians and minorities in Southern Kaduna?
Southern Kaduna endured a great many injustices by previous state administrations led by Hausa/Fulani Muslim governors. But, somehow, past governors also acknowledged that the people of Southern Kaduna were more advanced in terms of education and skills than their northern Muslim Hausa/Fulani counterparts in the state. People from Southern Kaduna dominated the civil service, although most of the top positions were reserved for Hausa/Fulani Muslims...
Nigeria: The spectre of anarchy and conflict
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, February 2021
Nigeria has become a theatre of conflict and insecurity. Anarchy seems to be shaping the country's character, with the northeast overrun by Boko Haram on one hand, bandits calling the shots in the northwest and Fulani herdsmen wreaking havoc in the Middle Belt and southwest. This amorphous conglomerate of conflict entrepreneurs maim, kill, ransack villages at will, plunder harvests and burn down homesteads. With a burgeoning population, decreasing earnings, entrenched corruption, deep divisions in the polity and growing religious intolerance, it is not difficult to see how Nigeria found itself in this cauldron of insecurity and conflict...
“The reign of impunity is the scaffolding on which the persecution of Christians in Nigeria has been built”
CSI Interview with Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh PhD, January 2021
How many Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2020? Is Nigeria still the country with the most Christian killings?
2020 was a very dark and terrible year for Christians worldwide, including Nigeria. In 2020, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan in terms of countries where Christians were most exposed to violence. Data provided by the Nigerian NGO Intersociety shows that 2,400 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2020. This brought the number of Christians killed since 2009 to 34,600.
This figure does not include the large number of Christians who have been raped, disfigured, maimed, traumatised, disappeared, displaced and made homeless, enslaved or forcibly converted by jihadist terrorists in Nigeria...
Nigeria as Necropolis (Part 2 of 2)
No Place to Lament: Finding a Way out of Nigeria’s Necro-politics
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Stan Chu Ilo, December 2020
In part 1 of this article, I argued that Nigeria is not simply on the brink of a genocide, but that Nigeria is structurally existentially genocidal because it is a necropolis – a nation that sustains death through necro-politics. In their bid to control the country’s resources, Nigeria’s elites keep its people divided, and dispense death through abuse of the institutions and systems of governance. This abuse has left Nigeria less democratic, and more divided, while a majority of Nigerians, particularly in this pandemic, are hanging on to bare existence.
If you asked most ordinary Nigerians who lived under British colonial rule how they feel today, they would tell you that successive Nigerian governments since independence have been more “colonial”, repressive, irrelevant, and exploitative than the British regime ever was...
Nigeria as Necropolis (Part 1 of 2)
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Stan Chu Ilo, December 2020
When John Campbell, the former American ambassador to Nigeria, published his 2010 book, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, many Nigerian political elites saw Campbell as a doomsayer and rejected the main thesis of his book. Campbell, after a thorough analysis of Nigeria’s violent history and ever-revolving cycle of political crisis and poor governance, had warned that Nigeria was sitting on the precipice of state failure, and needed to undertake a serious national effort at democratisation. Ten years after the publication of this important book, I argue in this piece that Nigeria is not only on the brink of state failure, but on the brink of a genocide...
Quo Vadis Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh, PhD, November 2020
The question “Where is Nigeria heading?” is one that has nagged analysts, policymakers, and politicians all over the world for decades. Nigeria’s strategic importance in African geopolitics makes it a pertinent question...
After the Lekki massacre, a dangerous anti-Christian propaganda is spreading in Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Mitterand Okorie, PhD candidate
On the evening of 20 October, 2020, the world was stunned by gory pictures of peaceful protesters being mowed down by the Nigerian military in Lekki, an affluent neighbourhood in Lagos, southwestern Nigeria. Young Nigerians had gathered to protest against police brutality and human rights abuses by a rogue police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). However, after nearly two weeks of peaceful marches, their demands were met with state-sanctioned massacre...
Young Nigerians protest under the spectre of anarchy and genocide
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh, PhD, October 2020
Millions of young Nigerians have been on the streets for the past two weeks protesting against a notorious Nigerian police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). This unit, established over a decade ago to fight rising cases of armed robbery, has metamorphosed into a nest of killers acting with unparalleled impunity. The street protesters – mainly in southern and middle belt cities - also demanded radical social, political and economic reforms to prevent Nigeria from falling into the abyss of a failed state.
Nigeria’s Fulani conflict: A ‘clash over land ownership’ or a sectarian massacre?
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Hassan John, Anglican priest and journalist, September 2020
The deadliest conflict currently unfolding in Nigeria is the campaign being waged by Fulani Muslim militias against the mostly-Christian farming communities of the country’s Middle Belt. The International Crisis Group reported in 2018 that these attacks had become six times deadlier than the Boko Haram insurgency. Amnesty International reported that between January 2016 and October 2018, “at least 3,641 people [were] killed by Fulani herdsmen” while a Foreign Affairs report from January 2019 says the Fulani herdsmen “killed more than 10,000 people in the last decade”. According to the Global Terrorism Index, in 2019 deaths from terrorism in Nigeria increased by one third over 2018 as a result of “a substantial escalation” in violence by Fulani extremists.
Do Conditions for Genocide Exist in Nigeria?
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Hassan John, Anglican priest and journalist, February 2020
A slow-motion war is underway in Nigeria, warned French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy following a visit to the Middle Belt at the end of 2019. “It is a massacre of Christians, massive in scale and horrific in brutality. And the world has hardly noticed,” he declared. In a video produced for Paris Match the prominent intellectual went as far as to describe the situation as “pre-genocidal”, stirring painful memories of Rwanda, South Sudan and Darfur.
Lévy’s SOS to the world did not go unnoticed – or unchallenged. In an interview, Vincent Foucher, an Africa researcher at the French state-funded CNRS-Sciences Po Bordeaux, went so far as to deny that the conditions for genocide exist in Nigeria, and accused the philosopher of aggravating tensions between Christians and Muslims through his one-sided and wrong-headed argument. Those of us who live on the frontlines of terrorism in Nigeria know very well that the trajectory of violence has reached the point where 'pre-genocidal' is an appropriate way to describe the situation in huge swathes of the country, especially the North-East and the Middle Belt. The danger of targeted killings and massacres morphing into genocide is real.
Nigeria Is Under A Siege Orchestrated By The Murderous Blood-Thirsty And Criminally-Minded Boko Haram Terrorists
by Dr Samson Ayokunle, Christian Association Of Nigeria, January 2020
Let me call for a minute silence in honour of all those killed by the Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers in the country. “If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know exactly how it feels but if you have not, then you cannot possibly imagine it.” ― Lemony Snicket You are all aware of the gruesome murder of the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, because he refused to be converted to Islam.
Progress is being made in tackling the menace of Boko Haram but much remains to be done
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Rev Fr John Bakeni PhD, December 2019
The Boko Haram insurgency in the northeastern region of Nigeria has lasted for over a decade now. A violent conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, caused wanton destruction, and displaced millions. The narrative of the Boko Haram insurgency has evolved and changed over time – from a religious or single narrative to an all-inclusive one. Human beings and humanity are at the centre of this conflict – Christians and Muslims alike. The most vulnerable, of course, are women and children...
Plan Colombia: a fundamentally flawed model for Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Onyemaechi E.F. Ogbunwezeh, PhD, November 2019
Christian activists in the United States are urging the US government to implement a “Plan Nigeria”, based on its military/economic Plan Colombia. This is a multi-billion dollar, ongoing programme launched by President Bill Clinton to combat drug cartels and left-wing guerrillas. An appeal for such a plan for Nigeria on the grounds of genocide prevention was recently made in an op-ed article entitled “Africa’s gathering storm”, published in The Hill. But precise details of “Plan Nigeria” have not yet been presented to the public. Very few Nigerians are aware of this Washington-based effort to commit their destiny to an uncertain future...
“Talking about genocide would not be overstating the issue”
Nigeria Report interview with Sarah Ochekpe, Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims (ECCV), Jos, October 2019
You are based in Jos, in Plateau State, which has been the scene of many brutal attacks on Christian villages by Muslim Fulani herdsmen. What is the background to the conflict?
Plateau is inhabited by different people of diverse religions but the indigenous population there, made up of the Beroms and other minority tribes, is mostly Christian. There was a time when they all lived peacefully with the Fulani. But with time and the rise of Islamic fundamentalists, this relationship seems to have gone sour. We now have a situation where the Fulani that we knew from way back are conniving with people from outside the communities and the country to attack the local population and displace the locals.
Stop the killings of Christians in Nigeria?
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Chukwudi Johnpaul Okolo, Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace, Enugu. October 2019
It is increasingly worrisome that Christian communities are being attacked and burnt down daily and many Christians murdered, yet these
attacks are neither reported in the news here in Nigeria nor addressed by the international community. Since February 2019, the number of Christians murdered in cold blood has increased overwhelmingly.
Nigeria: Between Aliyu Gwarzo and Fani-Kayode
Northern Nigerian Fulani hegemonist Aliyu Ismaila Gwarzo and Southern Christian and former politician Femi Fani-Kayode spar over the supremacy of the Fulani in Nigeria
ALIYU GWARZO writes:
“The problem with you Southerners is that you can never understand the north. We are a mystery to you and you cannot comprehend us despite all your boasting that you are better than us...
FEMI FANI-KAYODE responds:
“The problem with you is that you have allowed your delusions and lust for power and control to get the better of you. You and those you speak for are truly lost...
Sectarian conflict in Nigeria: causes, prognosis and possible solutions
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Chinedu Ike, senior lecturer in political science, Nsukka University
Sectarian strife is a major contributor to the violent conflict afflicting Nigeria. Between May 2011 and January 2019, Nigeria - a former British colony and the most populous black country in the world – recorded 9,516 deaths connected to sectarian unrest. The trend suggests that the conflict is worsening as the number of recorded deaths associated with sectarian strife increased from 207 in 2017 to 2005 in 2018.
UK Government ‘Turning a Deaf Ear’ to Genocide in Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Baroness Caroline Cox, UK parliamentarian and humanitarian, July 2019
Following the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok town in 2014, the rise of Islamist terrorism in Nigeria has rightly drawn international condemnation. Yet some of the deadliest outbreaks remain unreported.
In northern and central-belt states, thousands of civilians have been killed recently by Fulani militants. Vulnerable rural communities have been forced to abandon their homes. Churches have been burned to rubble. Entire families have been slaughtered. It is – according to the Nigerian House of Representatives – a genocide.
Boko Haram and the Fulani Nomads: Two Major Threats to Religious Freedom, Peace, Stability, and Human Rights in Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Onyemaechi F.O. Ogbunwezeh, PhD, March 2019
Nigeria is too important to be allowed to implode into violence, become a failed state, or descend into another civil or religious war. But the fact today remains that Nigeria runs the risk of imploding due to its internal contradictions. It risks going the way of Somalia, if the major conflicts fanned and driven by Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen and their financiers, both within and outside Nigeria, are not stemmed. Nigeria risks a volcanic explosion into conflict, if the ethno-religious issues plaguing the country are not resolved. If Nigeria were to fail, it would create social, political, demographic and human rights reverberations around the world. This is why it behoves us all to see how the country could be helped, with targeted social interventions and political pressure, to make the political elite realize the dangerous path that Nigeria is on before it is too late.
The Herdsmen’s Crisis: Intellectual Dishonesty?
Blog post by Isaac Albert, University of Ibadan, June 2019
It is a truism that Nigerians are sharply divided under the present dispensation. Unless something is done about it quickly, I see Nigeria imploding in a disastrous manner. I go before decision makers (national, regional, continental and global) from time to time to discuss some of the issues. I only respond to invitations; I do not force anybody to listen to me.
This piece is for those thinking that our comments on the herdsmen’s crisis amount to intellectual fraud or are a product of our hatred for the Buhari administration. Those pursuing this kind of argument are not closer to Buhari and his administration than those of us raising the red flag. The truth is that we have serious problems before us. We either manage them honestly or keep hiding behind one finger thinking that our
denials will stamp out the problem. Our leaders are not deceived by the gale of denials they hear. They meet regularly to deal with the problems...
The Sectarian Conflict in Nigeria
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Sr Mary Rose-Claret Ogbuehi, March 2019
The conflict in Nigeria arises from the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria by the British colonialists who failed to take into
consideration disparities in religion, mindset and culture. The northerners are predominantly Muslims, while the southerners are largely Christians. The Muslim north considers the southerners infidels who can be eliminated. Colonial Britain handed over power to the northerners who see themselves as ‘born to rule’. Despite Nigeria being constitutionally a secular state, in practice in utter disregard of Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution, the predominantly Muslim leaders run the country as an Islamic state. Ibrahim Babangida made Nigeria a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 1986. The protest from Christians in this regard was ignored...
Mobilising Nigeria's human and natural resources for national development and stability
Keynote address by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo at the 2019 Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), 18 May 2019 (Excerpts)
...Both Boko Haram and herdsmen acts of violence were not treated as they should at the beginning. They have both incubated and developed beyond what Nigeria can handle alone. They are now combined and internationalised with ISIS in control. It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for our youth in Nigeria which it began as, it is now West African fulanisation, African islamisation and global organised crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change...
The challenges of mitigating herdsmen attacks on people of Nigeria: lessons from Benue State
Guest lecture by Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 7 May 2019
...No one is now safe in Nigeria, from the North, South, East and West bandits are gradually taking over. This state of affairs started when the authorities allowed armed herdsmen from other countries free access into Nigeria, some were hired for mercenary purposes and have gone out of hand. The allegation that large amounts of money have been voted to placate the bandits implies that the nation’s sovereignty has been surrendered to criminals. With enormous funds at their disposal, they can acquire more weapons and also make themselves more formidable to perpetrate more criminality as well as be better placed to carry out their agenda which is conquest and occupation...
We owe ourselves a reckoning – Nigeria between freedom of religion and growing Islamic fundamentalism
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Obiora Ike, Chairman, Christian – Muslim Dialogue in Enugu State and Executive Director Globethics.net, Geneva, March 2019
There is no shortage of pronouncements that the inalienable and fundamental rights to freedom of conscience and religion for persons as enshrined in international constitutions, covenants, statutes and the United Nations Charter of 1948 are seriously undermined and threatened in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.
Cases of persecution of persons – particularly Christians – for religious reasons are on the increase. The statistics are shocking: over 200,000 people were victims of religiously motivated killings in the past 30 years – currently the highest level of any country in the world. Nigeria is not at war with another country and has never been, but religious fanatics – mainly Islamists – fuelled by bigotry, hatred, ignorance, ambitions to appropriate land, and politically teleguided acrimony instrumentalize religion for various ends. Thus the need to call urgent attention to the situation in Nigeria...
Understanding Nigeria’s endemic sectarian crisis
Opinion piece for Nigeria Report by Hassan John, Anglican priest and journalist, March 2019
Nigeria, the largest black nation in the world with a population of nearly 200 million, and ranking third on the Global Terrorism Index after Iraq and Afghanistan, is suffering a devastating sectarian crisis perpetrated by radical Islamic jihadi sects and Fulani cattle herdsmen militia, both of whom threaten the country’s corporate existence.
Various experts have given different and sometimes conflicting reasons for the 10-year-old insurgency by the radical Islamic jihadi group, Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP) formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād (Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad) and popularly referred to as Boko Haram (western education is prohibited) and the rampaging Islamic Fulani herdsmen militia. These reasons range from corruption to failed government, desertification due to global warming, poverty and tribal feuds. What, however, has been underplayed, is the powerful radical religious ideology driving the conflicts...