ReligiousViolenceinNigeria:  CausalDiagnosesandStrategic RecommendationstotheStateand ReligiousCommunities Isaac Terwase Sampson*

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ReligiousviolenceinNigeria: Causaldiagnosesandstrategic recommendationstothestateand religiouscommunities

Isaac Terwase Sampson*


The literature on religious violence in Nigeria largely implicates socio-economic, political and governance deficits as the major causes of such violence. This article, however, departing from the underlying causes approach, undertakes an analytical inquiry into the immediate and visible factors that trigger religious conflicts in the country. It also evaluates the nature of state management of religious conflicts in Nigeria and posits that government’s haphazard approach to these conflicts as well as the absence of a long-term strategy for its management account for their persistent manifestation. Drawing from the findings made, recommendations on the appropriate approach to curbing religious violence in the country are proffered.


Isaac Terwase Sampson is a Research Fellow at the African Centre for Strategic Research and Studies, National Defence College, Abuja, Nigeria, and a doctoral candidate with the Faculty of Law, University of Jos, Nigeria.




Religion could serve, and has indeed served as an instrument of social harmony in many civilisations. Paradoxically, however, it has also served as a motivation for violence, hence its indication in some literature as a ‘double-edged sword’ (Maregere 2011:17–23; Obasi 2009). From time immemorial, religious bigots have attempted to legitimise violence in the name of God. Contemporary acts of extreme violence such as terrorist attacks are often justified as ‘holy warfare’. In the past two decades, religion has been at the centre of most violent conflicts around the world, thereby gaining notoriety as one of the prime security challenges confronting the world in the wake of the Cold War (Juergensmeyer 2000:6; Abu-Nimer 2000). A study conducted in Spain has found that societies that are divided along religious...