Saturday, May 11, 2019

Cause and effects of Religious violence in Nigeria

 The history of human creation as captured by the Holy Bible and the Glorious Qur'an, reveals that man, from inceptio, has been in conflict with Satan.

Man consequently fell prey to the plot of Satan when he hate the forbidden fruit and was eventually sent out of the garden of Eden.

That notwithstanding, a stance of physical violence happened when the two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel engaged themselves in a hot arguments and Cain, out of wickedness, smashed Abel to death with his rod. This act of wickedness on the part of Cain did not go unpunished to indicate the consequences of wickedness on the wicked one, to extent that Cain condensed, "my punishment is greater than i can bear" (Genesis 4: 13). In spite of this man persists in this act of wickedness to the point that God regretted His action of creating man on earth ( Genesis 6: 5-6). The only hope for mankind to salvage itself from the bondage of Satan is through religion which unfortunately has become an instrument of violence and polarisation of mankind because of selfish reasons. In the words of Yousouph (2010: 340), "more than ethnicity, religion discrimination and differntaites human in a sharp and exclusive way, even more than belonging to a country would do. A person can be half-french , and half-Saudi, and at the same time, be a citizen of both countries. However, it is difficult to be half-Catholic and half-Muslim."


Religion is said to have been etymological derived from three Latin words, namely: 'Ligare' which means 'to bind'; 'Relegere', meaning 'to unite or link' and 'Religio', meaning 'relationship' (Nor, 2010: 48). With this, religion is termed to mean the relationship between two persons- the human person and the divine person. This relationship takes the form of recognition of human person, the existence of Divine person as the Creator and Sustainance of the universe in faith, and so many directs his worships to him and as well supplicates to Him for his needs.

Religion is therefore, seen as a rite of worship and exercise of faith by man to the Supernatural being; a means of establishing spiritual and moral relationship with him with a views to earning rewards in the terrestrial and celestial world.


Some factors have been identify as the causes of violence in Nigeria. Some of them are as discussed below.

Poverty and unemployment

Poverty has been considered as one of the major reasons for Religious violence in Nigeria. It is disheartening to observe that Nigeria, despite its abundance of human and natural resources, still has a large percentage of her citizens languishing in abject poverty.

The outcome of a survey research carried on the causes of ethno-religious crises in kano 2003 revealed that poor economic base of the populace was a major factor for the for crises in the city (Ibrahim, 2008).

The unemployed youth ignited crises in the garb of religion to loot the property of those they considered their 'enemies', namely, those who did not belong to their tribe even if they proffeses the same religion with them.

It can therefore be said that incessant attacks on non-Muslims in some states in the northern part of the county wa s basically not because they were non-Muslims, but because they were traders. They were attacked by hoodlums with the aim of looting their wares for economic gain.

This explains why cases of ethno-religious crises have been attributed mostly to the products of Al-Manjiri school system, who have nothing to lay their hands on after the completion of their education. They therefore resort to begging, roaming aimlessly in the street and indulging in the petty crimes and other deviant behaviors.

Provocative statements 

Another serious reason for violence is provocative statement and criticism of religion which such critics have little or no knowledge of.

This could be true of pressmen who use their pen to make unwarranted innuendo on Religious personalities. An example of this is an article written by one isioma Daniel in This Day Newspaper in respect of Miss World Beauty Contest which was to be hosted by Nigeria where blasphemous statements about the prophet of Islam were made. In the same vein, one Orlando Atanda of Fun Times and Lolly Magazine came out with a caption titled "will you marry a known prostitute turned born-again?" In which he accused Prophet Muhammad and called one of his wives a prostitute.

Apart from notorious writings on Religious personalities, some further foment trouble by their actions of rendering useless what others takes scared.


It is quite unfortunate that series of the acts of violence in plateau were triggered by tribal sentiments between the 'sons of the soil' and the settlers. The 1994 crisis was said to have been ignited following the appointment of one Alhaji Aminu Mato, a Hausa settler community member, as a Caretaker management Committee cahirman of jos North Local Government Council by the military administration in Plateau state. The crisis which erupted from this claimed four lives upon the request of the indigenes of the town that the chairman should be replaced by an indigenes of the Local Government Area. This same experience was shared in 2001 with the appointment of one Alhaji Mukhtar Usman Muhammad as coordinator of the National poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in Jos North Local Government.

Lapses in the security system

Another causes of violence in Nigerian is the lapses in the security system of the country which paves way for all Dick and Harry to have access to the country. It should be noted that the brain behind the 1980 Maitatse riot was not a native of Nigeria; he hailed from marwan, a village in Cameroon. He was said to have initially been deported to Cameroon in 1962, only for him to sneak back into the country in 1966.

In his research, Albert (2005) found out that about 185 of the followers of Marwa who were arrested and detained at Kano central Prison and the Goron Dutse Prison in 1980 , were non- Nigerians -- 162 of them from Niger republic , and from Burkina Faso.

Misinterpretation of spiritual verses

One cannot rule out the fact that some scriptual verses are often misinterpreted and misconstrued to ignite crisis and violence. Some Quranic verses that talk of JIHAD are mostly twisted for justification in this respect. Many still erroneously believe that dying in the cause of such JIHAD is a direct visa to Paradise.

Many youth are so fascinated to the preaching of their so called spiritual leaders that they are carried to the extent of laying down their lives through suicide, or destroying the lives of common people i n obedience to their leader's command.


           The following are some of the effects of violence on the nation and its citizens:

Loss of lives and poverty

One serious effect of Religious violence is alarming rate at which lives were lost. The Maitatsine riot in Kano alone was said to have claimed 4,1777 lives. As if that was not enough, subsequent Maitatsine riots in Bullum-kutu in Borno state of 26th - 29th October 1982 were pathetic.

Draining the nation's purse 

Another serious serious effect of Religious violence on Nigeria is the alarming rate at which it drains the purse of the nation. Valuable human and material resources which could have been invested in education and other useful projects are spent on acquiring weapon and providing security measures which have not been all that useful.

Denting the image of the country, religion and it's adherents

From all indications, no religion preaches violence and terrorism. As such, incessant violence t acts that have Religious undertones have portrayed religion generally as an instrument of threat, deceit and polarisation. With particular reference to Islam, Muslims have been seen as aggressors that must be fought under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

Disruption of economic activities

Due to incessant strikes of violent people, curfews imposed on the affected areas have serious effect on their economic activities. No serious foreign investor would also come to risk his resources in a country that cannot provide security for his investments.

Fear to approach place of worship

 The fear of violent acts has made places of worship become scary to worshippers for fear of being attacked by hoodlums. Curfews imposed in places where violence occurs do not allow worshippers go have free access to their places of worship.

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