Unending Communal Wars – Nigeria – ReliefWeb

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New cases of intercommunal wars is a periodic reminder that many vistas of conflict in Nigeria are largely unresolved. For instance, on Wednesday, 16th February 2022, renewed clashes occurred between Tiv and Jukun communities at Makurdi riverside. An arguably frozen conflict between Ife and Modakeke may also be renewed considering new allegations of land encroachment. Further, down south, inter-communal wars between Aguleri and Umuleri communities in Anambra state, Ukawu and Isinkwo communities in Onicha local government area of Ebonyi state are still unresolved. In addition, there is a pervasive farmer-herder crisis and ethnoreligious conflict in different flashpoints in the country. Nigeria’s communal schims lead to rural violence, avoidable deaths, and material losses. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight, given other security and development crises worsening living conditions.
Emerging self-defence militias may worsen communal conflicts. Across Nigeria, non-state actors respond to rising security challenges and ineffectual securitisation. The self-defence groups are largely formed along communal affiliations. With poor government regulations and the gun wave, the proliferation of these militias groups will likely worsen communal wars. The slippery slope is worse as high-ranking political leaders encourage people to defend themselves against attacks. The calls for self-defence are problematic as it lacks a definitive scope and functionality. Self-defence militias may move beyond self-preservation to becoming agents of terror in communities.
Managing communal conflict in Nigeria requires a proactive and reactive approach. From a proactive angle, the government must deploy advocacy, awareness creation, and early warning mechanisms to prevent conflict escalation. Security agencies need to adopt intelligence gathering techniques to nip emerging tensions in the bud. There is a need to engage with residents in the major crisis hotbeds. The engagement must include government’s effort to mobilise civil society actors, faith-based groups and traditional institutions. Essentially, implementing a bottom-up approach to rural violence and age-long conflicts. Furthermore, the Nigerian government and its development partners should commission more research that underlines the causes of communal wars in selected locations, its triggers and community-based peacebuilding and dispute resolution frameworks that can be upscaled.
Government’s reactive efforts to communal clashes should be combative and non-combative. There is a need for adequate securitisation of communities prone to conflict. Policing deeply divided societies is a bumpy ride. Most local violent conflicts in Nigeria have ethnoreligious, communal and political ties. Others are closely-knitted in structural violence, indigene-settler dichotomies, land wars, ancient stereotypes and unresolved disputes. The purposes of community policing will be lost if its members assert their affiliations over the business of tackling local crimes and conflicts. Therefore, state governments must regulate the quasi-security frameworks they create. In addition, regulatory and accountability frameworks for informal security actors must be robust to not worsen the already tense security climate.
Leaders should be pragmatic in their thinking in setting up state-level security structures. It is essential to understand the socio-cultural dimensions of local conflicts. Policing culture can take after the predominant culture of the society. States setting up informal security units should clearly define the purpose and objective of the outfit. The institution should have a generic goal; to effectively police communities. Beyond additional security measures, Nigeria’s security agencies should commit to more effective and efficient securitising Nigeria’s communal wars hotbed.
Nigeria + 17 more
Nigeria + 17 more
Nigeria + 15 more
Nigeria + 15 more
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