AN ASSESSMENT OF THE LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE PREVENTION AND MITIGATION OF ETHNO-RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

In its 50 year history as an independent nation, Nigeria has experienced over two hundred recorded violent ethno-religious disturbances. The first major ethno-religious disturbance exploded in 1966 as a direct result of political crisis in one of the regions that spiraled out of hand and led to the fall of the federal government. A civil war ensued which threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria. After the civil war, a decade of relative peace followed in the 1970s. Ethno-religious disturbances resurfaced in the early 1980s and have since refused to go away, with on and off flashes of violence here and there. This dissertation is a research work on ethno-religious crisis. Citizenship is found to be at the root of the conflicts, more particularly the “rights of the citizen” outside his so-called “state of origin” which is responsible for countless indigene-settler conflicts across the country. The study examined the extant laws of the land, from the Constitution to legislation, as well as policies of the Federal Government vis-à-vis “rights of the citizen” and impact of the law on sectarian conflicts. Findings were made that indicated contradictions in provisions of the Constitution, exacerbating disputes as to the correct position of the law. In a test of “law and morality”, a field study was conducted. Research questionnaire and interviews were tools used to collect data and interpretations made.
Findings were made that indicated contradictions between the position of the law and the moral values of the people with regards “rights of the citizen”, further exacerbating the crisis. In the end, the study drew conclusions and made recommendations on the way out of the seemingly intractable crises.

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