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Clash of Religious Civilisations in Nigeria: Understanding
Dynamics of Religious Violence

(enshie& Nsem)a *dward
'+
Inalegwu Stephan, -.ipu
2

'./epartment o0 Political Science and International Relations& 1ara)a State 2ni3ersit,& P45 ''!& 6alingo
1ara)a State& Northeast& Nigeria.
2./epartment o0 Histor, and -rchaeolog,& 1ara)a State 2ni3ersit,& P45 ''!& 6alingo& 1ara)a State& Northeast
Nigeria.
+ *-mail o0 the corresponding author7 edward.lenshie8,ahoo.com

Abstract
1his paper e9amines the clash o0 religious ci3ili:ations in Nigeria to understand the d,namics o0 religious
3iolence. 1he paper posits that religious 3iolence in Nigeria dates to the era Islam and ;hristianit, through the
acti3ities o0 the missionaries was introduced among the 3arious ethnic groups 0rom the North and South Poles
respecti3el,. 1he two religions with <messianic= mission o0 ci3ili:ing the world& trans0ormed into competition
0or con3erts. In the search 0or con3erts the missionaries perpetuated 3iolence against indigenous populations&
their cultural and religious s,stems. 1he hitherto e9isting indigenous religion > the -0rican 1raditional Religion
> cemented relationships )etween people& societ, and nature. ?ith the arri3al o0 <new religions= > Islam and
;hristianit,& in their @uest to dominate led to con0licting relations among 3arious ethnic groups that ma.e up the
Nigerian 0ederation. 1he collision o0 these religions ga3e )irth to the clash o0 religious ci3ili:ations& which ha3e
)ecome unprecedented in contemporar, time. 1he nature o0 religious 3iolence in Nigeria is tied to elite
manipulation o0 religious adherents to ad3ance their own interests in the political arena. 1he paper concludes that
putting religious di00erences to culture is central to cur)ing religious 3iolence in Nigeria.
Keywords: Religious ci3ili:ation& Islam& ;hristianit,& religious manipulation& religious 3iolence

1 !ntroduction
Imported /estro,ers7 )e0ore our imported truths& -0rica had her truths& our
shrines and PriestsA war was not recorded )etween one truth and another.
- Be0as 5a.o& The Imported Destroyers& (2#'C).
Nigeria with o3er '4# million people (National Population ;ommission& 2##!)& is no dou)t one o0 the
most populated countries in -0rica& and indeed& one o0 the most religious in the world ((enshie D -)el& 2#'2).
-s a matter o0 0act& religion in Nigeria occupies the prime o0 the socio-economic and political li0e o0 the countr,&
that is& the process o0 polic, ma.ing and implementation o0 the go3ernment in Nigeria is guided ), religion
among other 0actors. 1he process is usuall, in0ormed ), the religious heterogeneit, o0 the countr,& which i0 not
ta.en into consideration usuall, leads to con0lict& and conse@uentl,& 3iolence. /espite religious heterogeneit,&
dominant religion in Nigeria include ;hristianit,& Islam and -0rican 1raditional Religion. Religion is a 0orce
which has pac.aged the thought pattern o0 most Nigerians not to thin. outside what the, )elie3e in& and an,thing
that appears to contradict their )elie0 s,stems& the, tend to oppose it 3ehementl,& which conse@uentl, has )een a
maEor source o0 con0lict among 3arious religious adherents& especiall, ;hristians and 4uslims in Nigeria. 1he
contradictions arising 0rom the contraption o0 these religions e9plains the d,namics associated with power
struggles and power relations in contemporar, Nigeria.
Howe3er& the ascendenc, o0 religious identities in Nigeria is rooted in the historical e3olution o0 the
countr,& particularl, the manner in which these religions penetrated Nigeria and the role pla,ed ), the colonialist
to nurture the elites and e9acer)ate ethnic and religious consciousness and intolerance among the people o0
Nigeria (-.inwumi& 2##5).
Since independence& religious as an instrument o0 political manipulation o0 the masses 0or the pursuit
o0 state )ased resources continued& and graduall, )ut also steadil, surmounted the desire and e00ort to ensure
peace0ul co-e9istence and national trans0ormation in Nigeria (-de)anwi& 2##4A Smah& 2##$A Fst), 2##$).
/espite the philosoph, o0 peace claimed ), the 3arious religions appears to appeal to the need 0or unit, and
harmon, internall, among 3arious sects o0 the religion. Inter-religious relations& in most circumstances& has )een
marred ), acute le3el o0 religious hatred& intolerance and 3iolence since the end o0 the cold-war. Since the 'GG#s&
Nigeria )ecame increasingl, di3ided along religious lines& and open con0rontations 3ia most religious messages
)ecame 0ierce (".peh& 2##$). 1his was not the case )e0ore Islam and ;hristianit, entered Nigeria. -lthough&
precolonial Nigeria was not without con0licting relations that turned out 3iolentl,& )ut not on the )ases o0
religion. It is in this conte9t that this paper is set out to e9amine the d,namics o0 religious 3iolence in
contemporar, Nigeria.

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" Conce#tual and $heoretical Discourse
Religion throughout the world is emotionall, dri3en. "0ten& at a slightest pro3ocation religion trans0orms 0rom
an instrument o0 peace-)uilding to an instrument o0 3iolence. 1he attempt to understand the logic& which in0orm
the 3iolent nature o0 religion poses serious challenges. Scholars (Ha,nes& 'GGGA Stephen& 'GGGA "tite D "gionwo&
2##!) ha3e associated the religious 3iolence to the manner which preachers and their adherents )eha3e towards
opposite religions. "n the contrar,& 4amdani (2##2 D 2##4) re0uted this claim that it is rather the non-religious
intellectuals that are responsi)le 0or 3iolent religious moti3ations. *ither wa,& it is e3ident that religious practices
ha3e )een 3iolent in contemporar, times under the 0aHade o0 0ighting Iod=s )attle.
Jrom this )ac.ground& it is there0ore rele3ant to understand what religion is all a)out. "tite D
"gionwo (2##!) cited *mile /ur.heim as de0ining religion as& KLa uni0ied s,stem o0 )elie0s and practices
related to sacred things& that is to sa,& things set apart and 0or)idden > )elie0s and practices which unites into one
single moral communit,.M Religion& according to Barl 4ar9& in the words o0 Iiddens ('G'7''#)& is <Lthe
transmutation o0 representation o0 3alues which are in 0act& created ), man in the societ,& and the pro3ision o0
principled support 0or an e9isting social and political orderL= purported to achie3e class interests. 5ecause o0
the claim to sacredness& religion is seen as an indisputa)le and non-interrogati3e phenomenon. Howe3er& the
implication o0 religion in negotiating the contours o0 intergroup relation has )een 0ar reaching. *3idence a)ound
that religion create& nurture and determine group consciousness that can )e trans0ormed easil, into 3iolence&
depending on the circumstance that warrants it& and the magnitude o0 <we 0eeling= among mem)ers.
-ccording to (enshie (2#'#7'!)& o0ten religious rhetoric or propaganda are used to gal3anise s,mpath,
in order to e00ecti3el, garner support to assert collecti3e conscience which ma, )e real or gi3en& notwithstanding
the political undertones promoting 3iolence. In most parts o0 the world& the attempts to @uestion certain religious
tenets ha3e led to wanton .illings o0 li3es and destruction o0 properties with man, people displaced. Nnoli
(2##$)& while e9plaining the reason wh, religious 3iolence occur in di3erse societies& stated thus7
Religious di00erences ha3e a high potential 0or separating people 0rom one another.
1hroughout histor, these di00erences ha3e )een the )asis o0 tension& animosit, and
e3en war. 4an, times a certain 0anaticism is associated with people o0 a di00erent
religion& or hampers mutual trust and con0idence when such relations happen to
e9ist. 1his is )ecause religion tends to de0ine what constitutes appropriate social
)eha3iour. ?hen this de0inition is at cross purposes with another& normal relations
)ecome di00icult.
1his also goes to e9plain that& religion is d,namic and can direct peoples sense o0 reasoning. Stephen ('GGG)&
)uttressed this assertion 0urther thus7
Lreligion pro3ides de0inition& principles o0 Eudgment and criteria o0 perception. It
o00ers reading o0 the world& o0 histor,& o0 Eustice and o0 ultimate truth. Religion
limits or increases the conceptual tools a3aila)le& or channels them& and withdraws
certain issues 0rom in@uir,. It inculcates a particular wa, o0 percei3ing& e9pressing
and responding to realit,. Religion can legitimi:e new aspirations& new relations
and a new social order. *3er, religion in3ol3es struggles to con@uer& monopoli:e
or trans0orm the s,stematic structures which order realit,.
5ecause o0 the role religion pla, in negotiating group relationship& it is central to the clash o0
ci3ilisations& which Huntington ('GGC)& considered to )e decisi3e to determining the nature o0 the glo)al
relations in the post-;old ?ar era. Since the end o0 the ;old ?ar& religion tends to ha3e a composite e00ect on
intergroup relation. Religion tends to unite mem)ers o0 the same 0aith across the world& )ut it also tends to pitch
mem)ers o0 di00erent 0aith almost in a constant ideological con0rontation& and o0ten& 3iolent con0licting
relationship. -lthough notwithstanding& there e9ist internal di00erences in each religion& which mani0est
dramaticall, )ased on doctrinal di00erences. ;on0licts arising within the same 0aith on doctrinal di00erences ha3e
)een e3ident )etween Sunni and Shiite 4uslims& and ;atholic and Protestant ;hristians.
?h, the inter-religious intolerance and 3iolent relationship when there are so much that unite them
than what di3ides themN 4ore o0ten& howe3er& in religiousl, di3ided& comple9 and competiti3e societies&
religious :ealots and )igots ha3e e9ploited religion 0or sel0ish interests (Ha,nes& 'GGG). In this tas.& the
insigni0icant di00erences ha3e )een o3eremphasised among religious adherents as maEor areas o0 con0lict. 1he
moti3ation o0 religion to 3iolence does not occur in a 3acuum& there are conditions that necessitates its
occurrence& which can )e internal& e9ternal or )oth& depending on the mani0est realit,. Internall,& religious
3iolence can occur when particular adherents percei3e that their )elie0 s,stem is superior to other religions& or a
when a sense o0 religious depri3ation is nurtured or alternati3el,& a competiti3e e@ualit, with other religion is
esta)lished.
Religious 3iolence instigated ), e9ternal sources occurs when there is percei3ed internal wea.nesses
3is-O-3is other religions among adherents o0 a religion. In order to dispel competiti3e e@ualit, or dominance& the
adherents turns to e9ternal support 0rom the )rotherhood across the world to assist them. 1he support 0or
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religious operation come mainl, 0rom the non-state actors and state actors& )oth within and outside the countr,.
1he, pro3ide )oth <0iscal and ph,sical resources=. 1he 0iscal and ph,sical resources come in the 0orm o0
0inancial support and material support respecti3el,. Sometimes& ph,sical resources also include human support&
such as the importation o0 mart,rs& who ha3e onl, their la)our to o00er in e9change 0or the li0e-here-a0ter. 1hese
are religious e9penda)les. 1he state actors ma, not directl, and openl, support the crusade. 1he, ma, hide
)ehind the non-state actors to o00er support to )rotherhood. 5eside the 0iscal and ph,sical supporters& there are
also ideological supporters. 1hese are people who pro3ide the rationale 0or such crusade. 1hese would )e
detailed in the proceeding discourse. 1he acti3ities o0 0iscal and ideological supporters re0lect elitism.
1he anal,tical tool to e9plain the d,namics o0 elitism is to situate the discussion in the writings o0
Ro)erto 4ichel ('G'')& %il0redo Pereto ('GC5)& Iaetano 4osca ('GCG)& ;harles ?right 4ills ('G5G) and
1homas /,e ('G2). 1he, ha3e o00ered di00erent e9planations to situate the character o0 the elites (%erma& 'G5).
Jrom their di3erse anal,sis& there is e9ist certain commonalit, a)out who the elites are. /e0initi3el,& the elites
are a <small minorit, group=& who ), their possession o0 social and political power& in0luence the maEorit, group
in the societ,. 1he, are a success0ul group o0 people who ha3e risen to the top in e3er, occupation and stratum
o0 the societ, (4ahaEan 'G$$). 1he, are prime mo3ers& agents& s,m)ols o0 the entire common li0e& and the
em)odiments o0 the 3alues that maintain societ,. 1he, )elong to an e9clusi3e class 0rom which the rest o0
societies are short-out (-ghahowa D -tuan,a& 'GG!744-4$4).
Ihon3)ere ('GGG) puts it that& elites does not onl, control and dominate the commanding heights o0 the
econom, )ut also e9ercise legal monopol, o3er the means o0 coercion and dominance o0 the structures and
institutions o0 politics and econom,. 1he, shape the ideological and philosophical direction o0 societ,. 1hese
the, do easil, )ecause materiall, the, are empowered through their educational e9posure& connection and talent
(ShopeEu D "Eu.wu& 2#'#). In other words& the, are a pri3ilege minorit, within a larger group im)ued with& or
characterised ),& organisational s.ills& leadership a)ilities& .nowledge and in0ormation& dri3e and am)ition. 1he,
are societal agents through which )roader social 0orces such as ethnicit,& class and religion are 0iltered to
ordinar, people. 1he, determine the strings o0 character which pla, out in intergroup relations across e3er, la,er
o0 the societ,.
In the discourse o0 power elites& 4ills ('G5!) and /,e ('G2) postulated that the elites occup, the <top
positions= o0 authorit, to run programmes and acti3ities o0 maEor political& economic& legal& educational& cultural&
scienti0ic& and ci3ic institutions. 5, 3irtue o0 their positions& the, control hal0 o0 the nation=s industrial&
communications& transportation& and )an.ing assets& and two-thirds o0 all insurance assets. 1his can also )e
applied to local communities where a small num)er o0 indi3idual ha3e the control o0 the societal wealth and as
such in0luence societ, (%er)a& 'G5). 4ills classi0ied the elites into three& which are7 0irstl,& the highest political
leaders including the president and a hand0ul o0 .e, ca)inet mem)ers and close ad3isersA (political elite)A
secondl,& maEor corporate owners and directors (economic elite)A and thirdl,& high-ran.ing militar, o00icers
(militar, elite).
In -0rican societies& there are more to this classi0ication. 1here are rather si9 power elites in -0rica
namel,& the political eliteA the economic eliteA the militar, eliteA the traditional eliteA the educated elite and lastl,&
religious elite. -ccordingl,& the, ha3e mutuall, )ut also e9clusi3e interests at sta.e& which re@uires colla)oration
to dominate the masses (/unmu,e& 2##!). 1hese elites indi3iduall, and collecti3el, ha3e the capacit, to create
and determine the political atmosphere o0 -0rican states& to render it peace0ul or catastrophic. 1hough the, di00er&
their interests are common. 1he, con0lict howe3er& when their interests is across purposes& which the, use to
mo)ili:e and cr,stalli:e the masses into social actions that o0ten leads to 3iolence.
1he d,namics o0 the clash o0 religious ci3ili:ation in Nigeria can )e understood in this conte9t. /espite
the classi0ication seen a)o3e& in this stud, the elites are )roadl, classi0ied into two7 0irstl,& religious elites and
secondl,& non-religious elites. 5eside the religious elites& e3er, other elite group identi0ied a)o3e (political elites&
economic elites& militar, elites& traditional elites& educated elites and religious elites) constitute the non-religious
elites. 1he religious elites are those group o0 people ha3ing the o)ligation o0 sermoni:ing religious ideolog,.
1he, are responsi)le 0or preparing the adherents mentalit, and spirituall, 0or the li0e here on earth and the li0e-
here-a0ter. 5ecause the, are also part o0 the elite class& in their preaching the, rationali:e and Eusti0, the
operation o0 elite groups o3er the masses as di3ine. 1he masses ha3e no o)Eecti3es to @uestion the rationale o0
such message )ut ta.e as di3ine so long it emanates 0rom their spiritual leaders.
1he religious elites at this Euncture& )ecause o0 the enormous powers the, wield o3er the mass mind&
the, can en0orce some dogma that has the capacit, o0 trans0orming the population o0 adherents into instrument
o0 3iolence. Howe3er& at the same time gi3ing them the hope o0 the li0e-here-a0ter& i0 their resources were
Eudiciousl, used to promote the religion. 1he rationali:ation o0 the mass mind 0ind e9pression in the application
o0 the logic o0 transcendental m,th. 1his transcendental m,th ma.es meaning onl, within a particular scripture
which the adherents holds as a <hol, )oo.s=. 1he religious elites .eep harping on certain areas within the <hol,
)oo.= that spea.s much a)out the un)elie3er and the treatment to )e mated on them i0 the, re0used to accept the
new 0aith. -lso& across di00erent religions& religious elites cite areas o0 minor doctrinal di00erences and 3erses o0
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the scriptures that seemingl, appear warli.e to ignite 3iolent 0eelings against other religious adherents (4amdani&
2##2 D 2##4).
Ne3ertheless& the non-religious elites consist o0 the intellectuals and the non-intellectuals. 1he
intellectuals are a particular group endowed educationall, in the .nowledge o0 religion and otherwise gained
through research. 1he, are outspo.en and ha3e the capacit, to appl, mundane m,th to rationalise the mass mind
and Eusti0, certain actions as necessar,. 1he non-intellectuals consist o0 those groups that does not )elong to the
teaching pro0ession nor do the, engage in scholarship& .nowledge production and distri)ution. 1he, consist o0
people possessing enormous economic& political& militar, and traditional powers or resources at their disposal.
1he, can ma.e use o0 these resources or powers to create a niche 0or themsel3es within the religious group& and
also mo)ili:e and instigate mem)ers into social action& o00ering them all the re@uired supports needed 0or
underta.ing such actions (4amdani& 2##2 D 2##4).
1he reason )ehind their support hinges on the 0act that the, ha3e o)ligations to ensure that the Iod=s
own religion is e9panded )e,ond their religious 0rontiers. In so doing interreligious con0licts )ecomes eminent.
4ore o0ten& the support which the religious and non-religious elites o00er to adherents to trigger 3iolence is
construed ), their sel0ishness > the @uest to capture state power. -s the, gra))le with power& the, manipulate
the people and present it as i0 the, are struggling 0or a Eust curse to ensure that the religious group& which the,
)elong are disposes o0 the control o0 power& or otherwise. 1o achie3e the o)Eecti3e o0 capturing state power the
0eeling o0 insecurit, is created to rall, their 0ollowers& and the instrument which the, use are transcendental and
mundane m,ths (Harowit:& 'G$5). 1he logic o0 mundane m,th 0inds e9pression in the social& economic and
political material condition o0 adherents& whereas the transcendental m,th 0inds e9pression in the use o0 religious
dogma. 1he non-elites& merel, religious :ealots constitutes the 0oot soldiers& or at worse& the e9penda)les. 1he,
are recruited to die in ser3ice o0 the religion which the, )elie0 strongl, is the onl, source o0 eternit,. 1he hope o0
these :ealots is to ma.e eternal li0e& which could )e attained through strict o)edience to the tenets o0 the religion.
1he 0oregoing discourse re0lect the contemporar, realities in Nigeria& and indeed& in other countries
across the world. 1he situation contradicts the theoretical postulations o0 the moderni:ation and seculari:ation
theorists& who predicted the decline o0 religion in the modern glo)al politics (/eutsch& 'G5CA -pter& 'G!5A Smith&
'G#). Since the Septem)er ''& 2##' attac. on the 2nited States o0 -merica& religious 3iolence across the world
has )een on the rise& a00irming Huntington ('GGC) o)ser3ation and prediction that& religion including its cultural
composition will )e maEor dri3e o0 contemporar, glo)al politics& despite continuous rele3ance o0 states entities
as maEor actors in the international s,stem. 1he e3idence 0rom across the world also point to the centralit, o0
religion as a )olstering or undermining 0actor o0 state political legitimac,& )ecause it can legitimise as well as
undermine the state capa)ilit, through consciousness )uilding ((ewis& 'G4A Ha,nes& 'GG4A Jo9 D Sandler&
2##C). Nigeria is no less an e9ample where religion is a maEor challenge to national integration and
trans0ormation despite its constitutionall, de0ined secular nature.

% &rigin of the Clash of Religious Civilisations in Nigeria
1he origin o0 the clash o0 religious ci3ilisations in Nigeria as it is throughout -0rica& is rooted in the histor, o0
-0rican encounter with 0oreign religions& particularl, Islam and ;hristianit,. 5e0ore their arri3al there were
se3eral religious )elie0 s,stems& collecti3el, called the -0rican 1raditional Religion (-1R). It could )e argued
that -0rica& and indeed Nigeria& was not unreligious )e0ore their encounter with Islam and ;hristianit,. 1his
assertion is upheld ), *.o.o D -madi ('G$G) thus7
(ong )e0ore the coming o0 Islam and ;hristianit,& the people who occupied the
area o0 the present da, Nigeria was not unreligious. - t,pical traditional societ, in
the Nigeria area e3ol3ed religious strategies which ensured the sur3i3al o0 the
cornerstones o0 social norms& hopes& e9pectations and e9istence.
It is plausi)le to state in tandem that& religious practices across Nigeria essentiall, traditional religion
was not prone to con0lict& )oth at the immediate and the larger social milieu. -ccording to -Ea,i& ('G!$7C$!-C$)&
<Religion L was the cement o0 goodwill and the 0ear that .ept the 0amil, as a unit and the 3illage as distincti3e
communit,=. In 0act& throughout the pre-colonial times& <all acti3ities and instrument o0 go3ernance and sur3i3al
were clothed in religion= (Balu& 'G$G7''). 1his assertion ma, )e disputed& )ut e3idence 0rom the e9tant
literatures ha3e shown that& Islam was ne3er .nown to the Hausa spea.ing people and o0 course& other northern
e9traction& not until the second hal0 o0 the 0ourteenth centur,& when it was introduced ), re0ugees 0rom 4ali
(2)ah& 'G$5722$).
Islam has )een the practice in the 5orno *mpire )e0ore penetrating the Hausaland. It is e@uall, e3ident
that& in spite o0 the long histor, o0 Islamic religious standing among the Banuri and the Shuwa -ra)s& it has not
de0ied their traditional religious practices in the present da, Nigeria. 1he spread o0 Islam into other parts o0 the
countr, was )oth piecemeal and 0orce0ul (2)ah& 'G$5A 5ar.indo& 'G$GA 4ohammed& 'G$GA ".wori& 2##CA -wu&
2##$A -hmad& 2#'#). ?ith the con@uest o0 hitherto e9isting state 0ormations& it mar.ed the )eginning o0 Islamic
domination& or alternati3el,& coloni:ation o0 these states& that were ar)itraril, <independent and e9isting in 3aried
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0orms and si:es with di00erent structures o0 political and social s,stems= (",o3)aire& 'G$5A "do0in& 2##C). Jor
them& their incorporation and gradual imposition o0 Islam as a state religion was e9ternall, negotiated into their
respecti3e societies and presented them as 3assal states and communities at the peripher, o0 the So.oto
;aliphate ((enshie D -)el& 2#'274C-5C).
In most parts o0 the northern Nigeria there was no such thing as 4uslims )e0ore the arri3al o0 the
re0ugee 0rom 4ali into Hausaland& and o0 course& throughout northern Nigeria. In the same manner there was no
;hristianit, in Nigeria. In this regard& 4a:rui (2##') stated that7
L In most parts o0 -0rica and particularl, Nigeria& there was no such thing as a
;hristian identit, )e0ore the arri3al o0 the white man and his cultural )aggage.
;hristianisation was not onl, the sharp contrast to& sa,& -0rican 4uslim identit, or
traditional identit,.
1his e9plains that ;hristianit, is a later arri3al on -0rican soil& particularl, in the Nigerian area a0ter
Islam had long arri3ed the northern Nigeria. It was introduced into the 5enin and ?arri areas& )e0ore spreading
into other areas o0 the southern Nigeria in the '!th centur, (*dig)a& 2#'2). 1he presence o0 ;hristianit, in the
region mar.ed the )eginning o0 the reEection and destruction o0 the traditional religious practices o0 the people
which the, considered as the cement o0 their societies (-de)isi& 'G$G). It must )e stated that in the same manner&
Islam was introduced in most parts o0 northern Nigeria. -lthough& Islam entered into the region as earl, as at the
th centur, in the 5orno area& it entered the Hausaland in the ''th centur,. In other territories within the region&
the people were 0orced to surrender peace0ull, or ), means o0 war0are to accept Islam (-de)isi& 'G$GA ".wori&
2##C).
;olonialism rein0orced the spread o0 ;hristianit, into the middle )elt areas where Islam was at the
stage o0 de3elopment& particularl, along the 5enue 3alle,. -ccordingl,& in the northern Nigeria ;hristian
missionaries concentrated in Shonga& Paria& ?ase& Pategi& (o.oEa& 5ida& ?ushishi& and Buta among other areas&
preaching among the 4uslim communities rather than the pagan areas. 1heir e9pansion into the core Islamic
areas o0 the northern Nigeria& particularl, the Bano emirate in the later centur,& attracted serious concern 0rom
within the northern Nigeria and in *ngland& leading to their o3ert restriction ), the colonialist as a measure to
.eep to their promise o0 protecting the region 0rom ;hristinisation (Sa=ad& 'G$#A -de)isi& 'G$GA ".wori& 2##CA
(ogams& 2##4).
?hile restricting ;hristian missionar, acti3ities 0rom the core areas o0 northern Nigeria where Islam
has )een dominant& the colonialist allowed the missionaries to perpetuate cultural 3iolence in the pagan areas ),
preaching and attac.ing the shrines and priests and incarcerating those who re0used to accept ;hristianit,. 1his
ensured that two dominant religions e9isted& seemingl, as conscious political design to maintain neo-colonial
in0luence in Nigeria a0ter their departure (-de)isi& 'G$GA (enshie D -)el& 2#'274$-4G). 1hese religious
ci3ilisations& Islam and ;hristianit,& ha3e come to e9ert more in0luence o3er and a)o3e indigenous norms and
3alue s,stems o0 Nigerians. 1hese religions came with di00erent cultural orientations as gamut o0 their respecti3e
ci3ilisations. Islam came with -ra) cultural orientation and ci3ilisations& as ;hristianit, with ?estern cultural
orientation and ci3ilisations. 1he di00erent orientation and ci3ilisations ha3e de0ied the e9istence o0 indigenous
social and cultural 3alue s,stems& leading to serious collision& su)sumed as the <clash o0 religious ci3ilisations=.
1he central Nigeria is the epic centre o0 the religious collision& with the southern and northern Nigeria
0anning its mani0estation. 1he arri3al o0 these 0oreign religions on the Nigerian soil& 0irst ensured the wea.ening
o0 the indigenous religion. -0ter a success0ul collapse o0 their reser3oirs& the, instituted hegemon, and mo3ed
southward and northward respecti3el,& to collide at the central region o0 Nigeria in search o0 con3erts and
dominance& leading to <clash o0 religious ci3ilisations= ((enshie D -)el& 2#'2). Historicall,& Islam and
;hristianit, are considered as monotheistic& wh, then the con0lict )etween and among )elie3ers o0 Islam and
;hristianit,N 1his @uestion 0inds e9planation in 4amdani (2##27!$) su)mission that7
LIslam and ;hristianit, ha3e in common a deepl, messianic orientation& a sense
o0 mission to ci3ili:e the world. *ach is con3inced that it possesses the sole truth&
that the world )e,ond is a sea o0 ignorance that needs to )e redeemed. In the
modern age& this .ind o0 con3iction goes )e,ond the religious to the secular&
)e,ond the domain o0 doctrine to that o0 politicsL
Jrom the 0oregoing& it is 0actual that each o0 the religion ma.es claim to messianic mission o0
ci3ili:ing the world and ha3ing the soul truth to achie3e sal3ation. 1his is at the centre o0 the con0licting
relations )etween them.
1he clash o0 religious ci3ilisations mani0est in Nigeria at two le3els > the 0irst is at the macro le3el and
the second is at the micro le3el respecti3el,. -t the macro le3el& the clash o0 religious ci3ilisations occur
)etween two or more religion competing 0or space and hegemon,. 1he earl, religious arri3al see. to maintain
spatial hegemon, whereas the latter religious arri3al see. to gain the space to penetrate& or alternati3el,&
o3erthrow the status @uo within the geographical )oundaries. -t the micro le3el& the clash occur )ased on
sectarian identit, )etween two or more sects o0 the same religion& contesting 0or internal religious hegemon,.
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1he contest usuall, mani0est on the )asis o0 earl, and late arri3al as well as ideological or doctrinal di00erences.
-s 4amdani (2##4) argued in his essa,7 The secular roots of radical political Islam& the clash o0
religious )elie0 s,stems& particularl, )etween Islam and the others& is not a 0unction created ), the religious
intellectuals such as the ulama and the mullahs& )ut ), non-religious intellectuals which he identi0ied to include
the li.es o0 6amal al-/in al--0ghani& 4awdudi and Sa,,id Qut)& who are Eournalists and literar, critics
respecti3el,. It must )e stated howe3er that )oth religious and non-religious intellectuals o3er the ,ears ha3e
)een complimentar, in inundating religious adherents into social action& pro3ided the, share and practice the
same religion. 4amdani (2##47'#$) cited Sa,,id Qut) as asserting that <,ou must ma.e a distinction )etween
0riends and enemies )ecause with 0riends ,ou use persuasion and with enemies ,ou use 0orceL= Sa,,id Qut)
statement re0lect the e00ort ), the non-religious intellectuals to generate religious consciousness among adherents&
which the religious intellectuals in the 0ace o0 glo)alisation and internal miscarriages o0 relationship within and
across religions are concerned a)out. 1his situation 0ascinated 4amdani to comment thus7
I reali:ed in 0act that man, o0 the primar, intellectuals o0 political Islam&
contemporar, political Islam& and perhaps contemporar, political Hinduism& li.e
political Pionism& are not religious intellectuals. I wondered wh, it was so eas, 0or
non-religious intellectuals to come into the religious domain and reali:ed we were
dealing with a religion organi:ed di00erentl, 0rom ;hristianit, (4amdani&
2##47'#$).
1his wonder indicates the in0alli)ilit, o0 the role o0 the elites generall,& whether the, are religious or
non-religious elites& hiding under the armpits o0 religious identities to stir up religious consciousness and
3iolence to complicate intergroup relationship in Nigeria. 1his mani0est through religious manipulation& which is
not recent )ut historical as alread, pointed out in the preceding arguments that it started earlier during the
0ormati3e periods o0 the Nigerian state. 1he implication 0or the mani0estation o0 religious manipulation in
Nigeria has )een 0ossili:ed ), the media through reportage. In this conte9t& media social responsi)ilit, has )een
cr,stallised and sacri0iced on the altar o0 sectional interests that tends to m,sti0, the general pu)lic on issues o0
national interests.
1here is no gainsa,ing there0ore that religion is capa)le o0 )eing manipulated& )ecause people alwa,s
0eel attached more to it than to their respecti3e utilitarian acti3ities. 1his e9plains that religious manipulation and
resti3eness is not a 0unction construe ), mass po3ert,& corruption and democratic de0icits& as some studies on the
5o.o Haram sect re3ealed that these pro)lems are central to their insurgent characteristics. Social realities in
Nigeria 0rom the historical times ha3e shown that )oth the poor and rich are highl, attached to religion.
/ur.heim cited in Iiddens ('G'7'#) understood the e00icac, o0 religion& when he stated7
4en 0eel o3erpowered ), a 0orce greater than themsel3es& which results 0rom the
collecti3e e00er3esce o0 the occasion. 1he indi3idual is con3e,ed into a world
which appear to him to )e utterl, di00erent to that o0 the e3er,da, utilitarian
acti3it, to which the )ul. o0 his li0e is de3oted.
5ecause the religious 0eelings and attachment people ha3e to religion& particularl, in Nigeria where it
religion is seen as a natural phenomenon or as a wa, o0 li0e& the elites onl, 0urther enhances it to their ad3antages.
5eside the support religious adherents recei3e 0rom the non-go3erning elites& the Nigerian go3ernment seriousl,
support and sponsor religious acti3ities& such as per0orming HaEE and pilgrimage. 1his is one )asic reason where
some people ha3e come to 0eel that Nigeria ought to )e a religious state and their religion supposed to )e the
state religion. 1his notion is usuall, 0ramed and 0iltered ), the religious intellectuals to their adherents without
an, s,nchronisation to consider the e00ect it will ha3e on national unit, and integration. 1he non-religious
intellectuals who ha3e )ought such perception o0 esta)lishing a theocratic state tailored towards Islam ha3e
sponsored and e3en registered the mem)ership o0 the countr, in the supra-religious organisation > the
"rganisation o0 Islamic ;on0erence ("I;).
It is in this connection that it su00ices to state that religious intellectuals ha3e alwa,s e9ploited the
opportunities pro3ided ), the non-religious intellectuals to create di3ision in Nigeria. 1his situation is glaringl,
e3ident in Nigeria& where religious leaders Eusti0, 3iolence& although& most o0 the time tacticall, through their
preaching to adherents. *3en though clash o0 religious ci3ilisations occur at )oth macro and micro le3el& the
clash appears to )e more 3iolent at the macro le3el. 1he ci3ili:ational di00erences and orientation pro3ide the
spin-)all 0or the religious 3iolence& notwithstanding a lot o0 similarities )etween Islam and ;hristianit,.
4a:rui (2##C) has argued that Islam and ;hristianit, ha3e disrupted -0rican ancient relationship with
nature& ), creating a <triple heritage= that ha3e placed -0rica in dilemma o0 ci3ilisations. He stated thus7
?hat )oth t,pes o0 -0rican societ, ha3e shared is nearness to nature. Jor centuries
the continent has had a)undant animal li0e and 3egetation& and the indigenous
religions ha3e 0used Iod& man and nature. Islam and ?estern ;hristianit, ha3e
challenged this 0usion. 4an alone is supposed to ha3e )een created in the image o0
Iod > contrar, to indigenous -0rican )elie0s in which the image o0 Iod ta.es
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man, 0orms. -mong IodRs creatures& onl, man > according to Islam and ?estern
;hristianit, > is close to sacredness& in possession o0 a soul& and destined 0or
spiritual immortalit,. 1his is contrar, to indigenous -0rican religions& which allow
other creatures to share in sacredness and sometimes endow mountains and springs
with a holiness o0 their own. 1he arri3al o0 Islam and especiall, o0 ?esternism
disrupted the -0ricanRs ancient relationship with nature.
1his is one o0 the maEor sources o0 pro)lems associated with the clash o0 religious ci3ilisations& which
characterises inter0aith or ethno-religious relations in post-colonial Nigeria& and is caused ), people& who ha3e
no ade@uate .nowledge a)out the two dominant religions.

' $he Dynamics of Clash of Religious Civilisations in (ost)Colonial Nigeria
In the post-colonial era& Nigerian elites who emerged 0rom the ru))les o0 colonisation 0ed on the 0ar reaching
e00ects o0 colonial legacies to perpetuate themsel3es in power (Jalola& 'GG$). -lthough these di3ides were
inherentl, colonial creation o0 )oth -ra)ic and ?estern t,pe. 1he post-colonial elites& )oth ci3il and militar,
regimes ha3e o3er the ,ears used o0 religion among others to accentuate onto the leadership rostrum. 1he
pro)lem re0lect 4a:rui (2##C) discourse on the <triple heritage=& which are Eu9taposition or interEection o0
-0rican& Islamic and ?estern cultures& competing 0or domination and the attention o0 <potential -0rican )u,ers=.
1he, ha3e pro3ided a 3ariegated )ac.drop 0or policies& group actions& and indi3idual decisions& such that
di00erent parts o0 the countr, ha3e reacted di00erentl, to the <triple heritage= phenomenon.
In Nigeria& the imported religions ha3e alienated man 0rom sel0& people and nature& and ha3e put a
dagger to what in the past held the people together and now things ha3e 0allen apart. Ne3ertheless& remar.a)le
the people in the south-west Nigeria& particularl, the Soru)a ha3e had minimal con0licts associated with religion&
)ecause the, ha3e put their di00erences to culture (Bu.ah& 'GGC). In the south-east Nigeria& religious 3iolence has
also )een minimal& this is perhaps )ecause 3irtuall, all the people in the region pro0esses ;hristianit,. /espite
the sectarian di3ide )etween ;atholic and the -nglican which ha3e maEorit, o0 0ollowers& has not led to 3iolence
as politics ha3e o3er the ,ears di3ided them. Howe3er& the northern Nigeria& has a histor, o0 religious 3iolence
dated to the '$th centur, Eihad. 1his has continued )ecause o0 the signi0icant population o0 other religious
adherents in the region.
1he Northern Nigeria present a societ, where& particularl, among the 4uslims& e3er,thing including
go3ernance and education ma.es meaning onl, in the conte9t o0 Islamic religion. -n, contradiction constitute a
serious challenge to Islam and its adherents. 1his is at the core o0 the rise o0 0undamentalism among Islamic
:ealots& who ha3e risen to counter an, 0orm o0 challenges to Islamic dominance in the northern Nigeria. ?ithin
this premise can the mo3ement o0 5o.o Haram sect& whose aim is to roll-)ac. ?esternisation and its structures&
including ;hristianit, in northern Nigeria& and i0 possi)le to o3errun the Nigerian state to esta)lish Islamic state
in order 0ormation )e understood. ?hile this ma, remains the utmost desire o0 man, Islamists& Islam is also
0aced with series o0 sectarian con0licts& such as Shiite and Sunni di3ides& in the 0ace o0 glo)al challenges.
-lso& e@uall, important to state is that in contemporar, times& unli.e where ethnic identit, )eing
decisi3e in determining intergroup relations among the Soru)a and perhaps& the Ig)o and other ethnic groups o0
the southern Nigeria. In the northern Nigeria& ethnicit, does not ma.e an, serious meaning& what is 3er, central
is religion. Religion 0or man, people in the northern Nigeria is a totalit, o0 li0e. 1heir attitude and disposition are
guided ), religion rather than reason. 1his is wh, 4ar9 )ecame c,nical a)out religion when he argued that
religion create 0alse consciousness. It is a product o0 man=s creation& the product o0 those in power& who control
social means o0& and determines social relations o0 production supported ), the elites to Eusti0, the oppression o0
the oppressed creature (6ec.reece D Nsirim& 2##G). -)o3e all& <religion is an opium o0 the masses= ((enshie D
-)el& 2#'2745). 1he reason is that religion eludes pure reason and moti3ate passion& and tends to o)Eect an, 0orm
o0 in@uir, into it as a challenge to the e9istence o0 the sacred )eing. 1his is where people )ecome )undled up
with religious dogma that are transcendental m,ths to direct and channel 3iolent prone attitude. It is there0ore
alluding that <all religion are men=s creation and all men are 3ictims o0 their own creation=.
1he rising religious consciousness and acti3ities in the northern Nigeria present indicate that religious
clashes )etween the adherents o0 Islam and ;hristianit, ha3e )ecome a )a:aar. 1he dominance o0 Islam in most
parts o0 the northern Nigeria has )een a source o0 concern 0or the maEorit, o0 ;hristians. 1he 4uslims ha3e the
notion that Islam preceded ;hristianit, in northern Nigeria& there0ore the presence o0 ;hristianit, is contending
its hegemon, which transcends all aspect o0 social& political and economic sectors o0 the societ,. ;hristians ha3e
also e9pressed pho)ia against Islam (Bu.ah& 'GGC). 1he pho)ia 0or Islam in contemporar, Nigeria among
;hristians is in0ormed ), the intolerant and 3iolent nature some sect ha3e ta.en to e9pand the religion.
-s a wa, o0 Eusti0,ing the intolerance associated with Islam across the world in contemporar, time&
Hallida, ('GG4) posits that the mani0estations is <L a response to the percei3ed wea.ness and su)Eugation o0 the
Islamic worldL= moti3ated ), what 4amdani (2##4) re0ers to as <political ;hristianit,& political Hinduism and
political 6udaism=. Jrom these assertions& it would )e deduced that the 4uslims in northern Nigeria percei3e
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;hristianit, as a ri3al religion& which is contesting the hegemon, o0 Islam. 1his perception has gi3en rise to
inter-religious con0lict that ha3e )een 3er, 3iolent. 1he 3iolent nature o0 religion in Nigeria is rooted in the post-
colonial elite=s ideological manipulations o0 religious tenets 0or power and primiti3e accumulation o0 resources.
1his was the situation in the 0irst repu)lic. 1he religious inclined nature o0 the Nigerian politics was to
)e seen in the manner the regions related with one another and )e,ond the shores o0 Nigeria. In southern Nigeria&
particularl, the *astern Region& ), descent are Ig)o and ;hristians dominated& had )ilateral relations with Israel&
and whereas the Hausa-Julani 4uslims dominated northern Nigeria had )ilateral relation with the Saudi -ra)ia.
In each o0 these regions& religious inscriptions were 0ound written against )an.s& education institutions&
wor.places and so on. In some cases& the, were written in -ra)ic or (atin& ma.ing it di00icult to )e understood
), those who are outside these religions. Jor e9ample& man, people ha3e attended and graduated 0rom the
-hmadu 5ello 2ni3ersit,& Paria& without .nowing what the -ra)ic inscriptions on the logo o0 the uni3ersit,
stands 0or. In orthodo9 churches citations are made in (atin which man, 0ollowers .now little or nothing a)out
what meaning the, con3e,.
In southern Nigeria& particularl, in the *astern region& while it was di00icult to 0ind Hausa-Julani
4uslims in the pu)lic ser3ice o0 the region& in northern Nigeria& the Ig)o and Soru)a people were 3irtuall, in all
the sectors. In other to close the gap or the im)alance in education& econom, and the pu)lic ser3ice& the northern
region instituted the <northerni:ation= polic,& although spurred ), the attempt to <Nigeriani:e= e3er, sector& the
northern region led ), Sir -hmadu 5ello& also deemed it to implement same 0or the region (-l)ert& 'GG$75).
1he polic, was geared towards granting the northerners the stage to emerge unto the upper rungs o0 the pu)lic
ser3ice. -l)ert ('GG$) descri)ed the polic, as sa,ing <enough is enough7 e3er,)od, unto its mother=s )reast=.
Jollowing the implementation& -l)ert ('GG$75) cited /udle, ('G!$72'G-22#) to a3ers that <), 'G5$&
there were 0i3e northerners in the top echelon o0 the ser3ice& si9t,-nine in the administrati3e and pro0essional
cadre& and 2C in the e9ecuti3e and higher technical cadre=. -lthough this polic, created a ps,chological e00ect
<Lthat nothing is good 0or the north which is not northern= (-l)ert& 'GG$75)& internall, it also created social
disparit, such that the maEorit, o0 those appointed were Hausa-Julani 4uslims. 1his polic, was also e9tended
into the economic domain to empower the Hausa-Julani 4uslims ), displacing the southerner& particularl, the
Ig)o ;hristian maEorit, as well as the northern minorities controlling the in0ormal sector o0 the econom, (-l)ert&
'GG$75). ".wori (2##C) called this tactic <economic Eihad=. 1his is e3en more e3ident in contemporar, times&
where go3ernment resources are used to empower adherents o0 a particular religion against the common good.
1he 0eeling that assumed the political landscape o0 northern Nigeria )ecame <nothing was good 0or the
north which is not 4uslim dominated=. 4an, decades later& this situation has continued to )e critical and
decisi3e 0or religious consciousness in the northern Nigerian pu)lic ser3ice as well as the political terrain. It is
reasona)le to point out that& most state policies during the 0irst repu)lic were regionall, construed ), ethno-
religious sentiments. Inter-regional relations at the national le3el were moti3ated ), elite=s economic interest as
did 5ritish colonialist& )ut religion was 3er, central 0or achie3ing the interest. 1he se3eral riots in Bano and
Baduna led to the wanton destruction o0 li3es properties. 5eing ;hristians& the Ig)o people and se3eral other
;hristian nati3es su00ered the scourge o0 religious 3iolence. 1his& there0ore& e9plain some o0 the reasons wh, the
militar, se3erall, inter3ened in Nigerian politics (-demo,ega& 'G$'A /udle,& 'G$2A Bur0i& 'G$5). Se3eral o0 the
militar, coups were interpreted along religious lines. 1his pro)lem 0urther compounded and rendered useless the
e00ort o0 state and nation )uilding in Nigeria. 1he 3arious militar, regimes cr,stallised the Nigerian population
into de3eloping religious consciousness while ma.ing e00ort to sustain their hold onto power.
?hile emasculating religious contestations in the countr,& 3arious militar, regimes tin.ered with the
0ederal structure& especiall, the secularit, o0 the Nigerian state. Notwithstanding the e9istence o0 the religious
cold war )etween adherents o0 Islam and ;hristianit, since independence& 0rom 'GC onward religious )igotr,
continued to dominate intergroup relations. Jor e9ample& the Nigerian Supreme ;ouncil o0 Islamic -00airs
(NS;I-) demanded the inclusion o0 Islamic law into the Nigerian ;onstitution& and to esta)lish institutions o0
Islamic legal s,stem. 1his demand recei3ed pea. attention when Ieneral I)rahim 5a)angida came to power in a
counter coup in 'G$5. 1o secure a niche 0or himsel0 among the northern aristocrats& against the secular status o0
the countr, went ahead to register Nigeria mem)ership to the "rganisation o0 Islamic ;on0erence ("I;)
("napaEo& 2#'274). Since then Nigeria has continued to )e seen as one o0 the maEor centres o0 Islam in -0rica.
1he contending atmosphere )etween ;hristianit, and Islam )ecame intensi0ied. ?hile 4uslims
cele)rated I)rahim 5a)angida as a national hero and champion o0 the 0aith& ;hristians saw him as a 3illain& an
anti-;hrist& and an antagonist o0 peace0ul inter0aith relations. Howe3er& the, could not do otherwise& )ecause
)rute 0orce characterised the regime. ?orse still was the Ien. Sani -)acha=s regime. %arious religious d,namics
pla,ed out promote Islam in Nigeria.
1he character showcasing religious di00erences were also witnessed in the 3arious appointments made
during their sta, in power. 4easuring the de)it and credit o0 the 3arious militar, regimes on the parlance o0
inter-religious representation& it is critical that all 0ailed to unite the countr,. 1he, rather ha3e cr,stallised
Nigerian population along religious polarisation& creating hori:ontal ine@ualities and generating 3iolent ci3il
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con0licts (Fst),& 2##$). Jrom the 'G$#s religious 3iolence intensi0ied& especiall, with the wa3e o0 ;hristian-
Pentecostalism into the core areas o0 Northern Nigeria (Bu.ah& 'GGCA *laigwu& 2##5). -ccording to RaEi (n.d)7
L;hristian religious 0undamentalism& which emerged as Pentecostal ;hristianit,
in the $#s& pea.ed in the G#s and )egan to 0ind anchor in the social and political
consciousness o0 adherents o0 that 3ersion o0 ;hristianit, who were mostl, ,ouths.
Pentecostal ;hristianit, targeted mainl, ,ouths as instrument 0or the socio-
economic and political reconstruction. It was there0ore not a surprise that the
church )ecame 3er, 3ocal in the political process in the G#s.
1he ;hristian religious re3i3alism in most parts o0 northern Nigeria was considered to )e un0riendl, to
Islamic dominance in the region. 1his led to se3eral wa3es o0 religious 3iolence against ;hristians.
Notwithstanding& 4uslims also su00ered reprisals in ;hristian dominated areas. It su00ices to note that it was
during this period& that the northern Nigeria witnessed the 4aitatsine uprising in Bano in 'G$2& and in Iom)e
and Sola in 'G$4 (Isichei& 'G$A International Institute 0or Strategic Studies& 2#''). In 4arch 'G$ and 4a,
'G$$& there was also religious 3iolence in Ba0anchan& Baduna State o3er the Sharia @uestion. 1his was 0ollowed
), religious riot at the -hmadu 5ello 2ni3ersit,& Paria& )etween ;hristian and 4uslim students. In the 'GG#s
there were series o0 ethno-religious riots across the northern Nigeria (I)rahim& 'G$A 4aier& 2###A *laigwu& 2##5A
/anEi)o& 2#''A "napaEo& 2#'2A -damole.un& 2#'2). Since then religious 3iolence has increased )e,ond measure
(I)rahim& 'GG'A /anEi)o& 2#'').
1hese religious con0licts did not occur in a 3acuum. 1here were moti3ations& which were essentiall,
though political& it )ecame religious. RaEi (n.d) in this connection pointed that7
Islam and ;hristianit,& while not onl, prosel,ti:ing religions& )oth see. to e9pand
their support )ase& hence con3ersion and poaching o0 0ollowers o0 other religions
through stereot,pes& hate preaching& distortion& misrepresentation and
misinterpretation o0 the 3arious religious te9ts in such manners that promoted
preEudice in )oth camps. 1he aim was either to e9clude or include& usuall,
demoni:ing either religion as KsatanicM. Religiousl, KgoodM )ecame
misrepresented ), the teachings o0 either religions.
2sman ('G$) 0orewarned against religious manipulations as an instrument to capture state power ),
all means. Jor him& <Lthe manipulation o0 religion in Nigeria toda, is essentiall, a means o0 creating the
conte9t 0or this 0anc,-dress )all& 0or this charade o0 disguises.= His caution was timel, as the danger was 0ast
looming 0rom e3er, 0acet o0 the social& economic and political sectors o0 the countr,. 2n0ortunatel,& the
population o0 the 3arious religious adherents could not understand the conte9t o0 his caution. 1his gulli)ilit, has
continued to produce the 3icious circle o0 religious 3iolence in Nigeria.

* Challenges of the Clash of Religious Civilisations in Contem#orary Nigeria
In e3er, societ, people see. 0reedom )ut more o0ten& ha3e seen )ondage arising 0rom di00erent social
0orces. -s a measure to manage these 0orces human ingenuit, led to the e3olution o0 democrac,. /emocrac, is
s,non,mous with the much desired human 0reedom& )ecause it permit intergroup relations within the armpit o0
the rule o0 law. It is well .nown that the re)irth o0 democrac, in Nigeria was as a result o0 the re.indled desire&
toiling and su00ering o0 men and women& ,oung and old 0or human rights and 0reedom e9pressed and e9ercised
in accordance with the democratic principles (Nnoli& 'GG$). ?ith ;hie0 "lusegun ")asanEo coming to power in
4a, 2G& 'GGG& Nigeria was thrown up into a dust, atmosphere o0 religious 3iolence. Se3eral religious eruption
were witnessed in the central states o0 Plateau and Baduna& with man, ci3ilians and non-com)atant people
)ecoming casualties (5est& 2##A Igwe& 2##G).
5e0ore the end o0 the administration in 2##!& there were o3er twent,-0i3e recorded ethno-religious
3iolence in Nigeria (Borieh& 2##5). "0 all these 3iolence& there were remote causes. ?ith speci0ic re0erence to
the religious dimension o0 ethnic con0licts )etween the ;hristian nati3es and the Hausa-Julani 4uslims in 6os&
Plateau state& /an0ulani (n.d) pointed among other pro)lems that7
1he THausa-JulaniU communit, )eing 4uslim does not tolerate marriage )etween
their daughters and ;hristian )ut the, do marr, ;hristian girls. 4ost 6os Plateau
;hristian communities detest this lopsided mode o0 social interaction. 1his has
gi3en )irth to what the ;hristians re0er to as Hausa-Julani raini <culture o0
)elittling= and arrogance since the, loo. down with open contempt and lac. o0
respect upon their host communit,& using such intemperate language and
stereot,pes as arna, in0idels& Sarkin arna& the chie0 o0 in0idels& kafirai (kafir) to
descri)e them. 1he, e9hi)it total disregard 0or the culture& religion and traditional
institutions o0 their host communities. 1his is a 0undamental reason that has
)irthed deep seated )itterness& with 0ar reaching social conse@uences& that has
continued to 0an con0lict on the 6os Plateau.
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1his same situation also o)tains throughout the areas where ;hristians are a maEorit,. 1he rise o0
religious consciousness and the prone nature o0 3arious ethnic populations to religious 3iolence were con0igured
), the <sharia @uestion= > the desire and commitment ), the northern 4uslim elites to institute Islamic laws
across the northern states. ?ith the )asis that democrac, is a)out human choices& the 0ormer Pam0ara state
go3ernor (now& a Senator o0 the Jederal Repu)lic o0 Nigeria)& -lhaEi -hmad Serima& decided to implement the
sharia law. "ther '! northern state go3ernors later cued and adopted same 0or their respecti3e states (-g)o D
(enshie& 2#'#). 1his situation aggra3ated the 0ears o0 the non-4uslims& )oth indigenes and residents in those
states. 1he sharia law was considered hostile and impeaching on the human rights o0 other religious adherents&
particularl, the ;hristians& e3en though it was not meant 0or them. ?here the sharia law was implemented in the
northern states o0 the 0ederation& their go3ernors were held in high esteem and cele)rated widel, among 4uslims&
e3en )e,ond the countr,=s national )oundaries& particularl, among the -ra) countries.
;onse@uentl,& other :ealots under di00erent um)rellas cashed in on the religious consciousness as a
plat0orm to sermonise Islam& whereas other people& the non-4uslims agitated against such e9periences& harping
on the secular status o0 Nigeria. 1his situation created serious dichotom, along religious identities. Reminiscent
o0 their e9periences with the northern Nigeria& as an e9pression o0 Islamaphobia& the Ig)o elites as.ed their
nati3es to return to their countr, home. 1he, threatened to ta.e to 3iolence i0 the situation was not re3ersed.
President ")asanEo adopted the <sit-down-loo.= perspecti3e to wait 0or the collapse o0 the sharia s,stem&
.nowing it was politicall, moti3ated ("napaEo& 2#'2). It was actuall, politicall, construed )ecause its a0termath
was 3iolence and repression against non-Islamic population.
1he implication o0 the sharia @uestion went )e,ond the ")asanEo era. In 2##G an Islamic sect la)elled
), the media as 5o.o Haram& which mean <?estern education or orientation is a sin=& )ut addresses itsel0 as
Jamaatu Ahlus Sunnah Liddaawatiwal-Jihad (People ;ommitted to the Prophet=s 1eachings and 6ihad)
emerged and )ecame an uncommon 0orce to rec.on with. 1he message o0 Eihad ), the group against the secular
nature o0 Nigeria has )een 3i)rant and m,sti0,ing (4u=a:u& 2#''). 1he sect drew mem)ership and 0ollowership
0rom across the countr,& and international supports and sponsorships& particularl, gi3en it wider lin. with the al-
Qaeda networ. and other related Islamic ideological dri3en groups across the world (5amg)ose& 2#'C). 5ased on
their networ.s& the 5o.o Haram sect since their emergence has sought continuousl, to o3erthrow the state and
esta)lish Islamic state 0ormation.
1he state and its agencies were )rought under attac.. ;hristians and their worship centres ha3e also
)een attac.ed. 1he ;hristian -ssociation o0 Nigeria (;-N) ha3e this statistics o0 attac.ed mated on ;hristians
), the 5o.o Haram sect7
"ut o0 the 'C religious-moti3ated 3iolent incidents we trac.ed& $$.CV were
attac.s on ;hristians& 2.GV were attac.s on 4uslims& attac.s on securit, agents
4.4V& sectarian clashes 2.2V and e9tra-Eudicial .illings were 2.'V. 1he 2S
1errorism report 2#'' indicates a total o0 'C! terrorist attac.s in Nigeria. It is
inconcei3a)le there0ore that 4uslims were the primar, 3ictims o0 a Eihadist group
whose intent is to Islami:e Nigeria. 1his ,ear 2#'2 alone& there ha3e )een 4G
securit, incidences o0 which $#V ha3e targeted ;hristians
(http7WWnews.naiE.comW5''.html& G -ugust& 2#'2).
In 0act& there is no gainsa,ing that the acti3ities o0 the 5o.o Haram Islamists ha3e )een harm0ul to the
collecti3e e9istence o0 the countr, (-ho.egh& n.d). 1he recent .idnapped o0 o3er 25# secondar, school girls&
maEorit, ;hristians& writing their 0inal e9aminations in ;hi)o.& 5orno State& ), the 5o.o Haram Islamists and
se3eral other attac.s on the ;hristian worship centres in the northern Nigeria are sel0-e3ident. -ccording to
Jorest (2#'272) the attac.s were geared towards spar.ing widespread religious 3iolence in order to desta)ilise
the go3ernment. In line with this su)mission& Jorest cited the 5o.o Haram=s 0ounding leader& late Shei. Susu0
4ohammed stating thus7 <"ur land was an Islamic state )e0ore the colonial masters turned it to a kafir land. 1he
current s,stem is contrar, to true Islamic )elie0s.= 1his assertion is in contest o0 <how white *uropean colonial
powers drew lines on a map in a somewhat ar)itrar, and capricious plan to car3e up the -0rican continent& and in
man, cases empowered local tri)es > 0re@uentl,& man, o0 which had em)raced ;hristianit,Xto rule as pro9,
landlords until the end o0 ?? II L= (Jorest 2#'27'4).
1he central message o0 the sect there0ore is not co3ert& the, want to terminate the Nigeria )ecause it
was a *uropean creation and to esta)lish its place an Islamic State. 1o actualise this o)Eecti3e the sect resorted to
the use o0 instrument o0 3iolence against the go3ernment and its institutions and ci3ilians. -)im)ola& D -desote
(2#'272#-22) chronicled o3er 0ort, maEor attac.s ), the sect )etween 6ul, 2!& 2##G and -pril C#& 2#'2 in the
northern Nigeria in which man, ;hristians and moderate 4uslims were .illed.
Reacting to the insurgenc, in the northern Nigeria& one o0 the most popular militant group in southern
Nigeria& the 4o3ement 0or the *mancipation o0 the Niger /elta (4*N/) also threatened to <attac. and .ill all
4uslims and )om) their 4os@ues in the region as a counter attac. to the insurgencies o0 the 5o.o Haram
Islamists= in northern Nigeria (-mai:e D ",adogha& 2#'C). 1his was aggra3ated ), 0ear o0 the uncertaint, o0
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ending the religious resti3eness& gi3en the conspirac, o0 silence pla,ed out ), northern elites o3er the 5o.o
Haram and other related issues.
5e,ond the desire and struggle )etween these religions& political elitism ha3e also pla,ed out in the
manipulation o0 religion 0or political interests. 1he pattern o0 3oting gi3en the presidential election results
indicated that Nigerians 3oted )ased on their religious identities. 4uslims in the northern Nigeria reacted and
too. to 3iolence contesting the election results. 1he reason which in0ormed the 3iolence was the 0eeling that
northern Nigeria )eing 4uslim dominated ought to ha3e produced Ien. 4ohammadu 5uhari (rtd.)& as the
president-elect. Jrom the map o0 the presidential election results indicated that 5uhari won in parts o0 northern
states dominated ), 4uslims& such as Bano& 6igawa& Niger& So)e& Pam0ara& Be))i& So.oto& Iom)e& Batsina&
5auchi& and Baduna& whereas Ioodluc. 6onathan won in all other states o0 the 0ederation e9cept "sun state
dominated ), ;hristians. -ngered ), this results the 5o.o Haram Islamists cashed in on the post-election
3iolence to unleash terror on citi:ens and non-com)atant population& mostl, ;hristians across the northern
Nigeria. Se3eral attempt ), the sect has )een made to e9tend its terror )e,ond the northern Nigeria.
1he political 3iolence ta.ing religious 0orm 0urther e9acer)ated religious consciousness in Nigeria.
?hat is happening in most states o0 the 0ederation in the contemporar, times re0lects "saghae ('GG5) su)mission
thus7
4ost actions& policies and appointments o0 go3ernment at e3er, le3el were seen
through the lens o0 religion. 1he lens also e9tended to dress& 0ood& and the )alance
o0 religious propagation in educational institutions& allocation o0 airtime on radio
and tele3ision& a 0air )alance )etween 4uslims and ;hristians pu)lic holida,s& and
the religious composition o0 the armed 0orces.
1his has 3aried accordingl, in di00erent states& depending on the religion that is more dominant. ?hile
ade@uatel, the core northern and southern states ha3e enEo,ed relati3e sta)ilit,& the central Nigeria ha3e )ecome
religiousl, di3ided and 3iolent due to the unhealth, pre3alence o0 Islam and ;hristianit, in the region. 5ecause
religion has )een mo3ed into the secular domain& the ethnic ;hristian nati3es ha3e )ecome more religiousl,
conscious to disallow non-;hristians rights and pri3ileges in their own communities. 1he mani0estations o0 the
resistance ), ;hristians in northern Nigeria 0inds e9pression in <political ;hristianit,=& a phenomenon which
de3eloped latel, in Nigeria a0ter the Hausa-Julani 4uslims ha3e esta)lished strong 0ootings in the northern
Nigeria area ), means o0 <political Islam=.
RaEi (n.d) has argued in this connection that the e00ort moti3ated ), political ;hristianit, and its antics
ha3e )een to rede0ine the political space through the <Ksal3ation politicsM in which access to socio-political and
economic redemption )ecame s,non,mous with Ksal3ationM=. 1hough is the truism o0 the contemporar, political
realities& it is a response to the centuries o0 political Islam in northern Nigeria. Political Islam reached the :enith
with the emergence o0 the philosoph, o0 <ne3er to allow non-4uslims& afir or Arne to rule them e9cept the,
pro0ess Islam. 1his particularl, indicates that the religious attachment to state power and the control o0 3irtuall,
e3er, means o0 li3elihood is 3er, central to Islam.
In this conte9t& the ethnic ;hristian population in the northern Nigeria who ha3e considered themsel3es
o3er the ,ears su)Eugated ), the Hausa-Julani 4uslims& considering the religious intolerance ha3e through
Pentecostalism pushed 0or political change in the status @uo. 1he Pentecostalism li.e Islamism )ecame a source
o0 protest and resistance to Islamic domination. Pentecostalism is s,non,mous with sa,ing <to ,our tents oh
Israel=& indicating that ;hristians were not going to tolerate social& economic and political inEustices su00ered
under the northern controlled 0ederal go3ernment.
4ost o0ten ;hristians ha3e @uestioned the reason wh, 4uslim should )e permitted to )e go3ernors in
the states li.e 5enue& 1ara)a and Plateau where the, are dominant& when in states li.e 5auchi& Pam0ara& Bano&
So)e& 6igawa& Be))i& Batsina and So.oto states& ;hristians cannot hold an, meaning position no matter how
hard the, agitate 0or inclusion. 5o.o Haram insurgenc,& 0or man, ;hristians is an Islamic agenda to reclaim
2sman /an0odio=s territorial area ), whate3er means. 1his relentlessness can )e re0erred to as <political Eihad=.
1he political Eihad is geared towards ensuring that 4uslims control the top hierarchies o0 e3er, sector in the
countr,.
It su00ices to state that Islam and ;hristianit, and those that dri3e them& ha3e lent themsel3es as
instruments o0 political manipulation. -s agents o0 these mega religions& the, ha3e manipulated their adherents
0or political gains ), trans0orming them into religious e9penda)les& a 9enopho)ic phenomenon that can )e
regarded as <mental colonialism= in Nigeria. 1he role o0 the colonialist in creating this situation in Nigeria cannot
)e undermined. Since 5ritish colonial policies were geared towards economic interest& the e00ort to encourage
harmonious intergroup relations was not gi3en an, attention. 1he, rather tacticall, encouraged and sustained the
north-south di3ides. -ccording to 4alach, (2#'C) <the predominance o0 4uslims in the north and ;hristians in
the south orchestrated the unending north-south struggles that ha3e come to de0ine pu)lic policies& de3elopment
programmes& the rules o0 political process and regime change in Nigeria=. 1his situation is also e3ident within
the north itsel0& )etween the core north dominated ), 4uslims and the central )elt& dominated ), ;hristian
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nati3es. 1his is at the core o0 the 3iolent clashes o0 religious ci3ilisations in Nigeria.

* Conclusion
1he interpla, o0 religious identit, and its trans0ormation to 3iolence pro3e clearl, that Nigeria is a 3er, comple9
countr,. Religion in Nigeria has )rought into contest the unit, and con0lict o0 opposite moti3ated ), the clash o0
religious ci3ilisations > Islam and ;hristianit, > in a domain& which was hitherto dominated ), adherents o0
-0rican 1raditional Religion. 1he traditional )elie0 s,stems were the truth that cemented the people and the
societ, and nature. "0 all the numerous traditional religious practices Nigeria had& there were no wars recorded
)etween one truth and another. 1he penetration o0 Islam and ;hristianit, in mutual contest 0or con3erts&
conEugated and cr,stallised the Nigerian population with their orientations into )ecoming religious warriors
di3ided along these two dominant religions& leading to what 4a:rui (2##') called the <triple heritage=. 1he wa,
religion has )een used to manipulate adherents o0 Islam and ;hristianit, in Nigeria indicates that the countr, is
in great dilemma o0 religious ci3ilisations. 1he countr, has not )een a)le to manage the contraption o0 these
religious ci3ilisations& which <much unite them than what separate them= into pro0iting the de3elopment o0 the
countr,& )ut the pro0it o0 the local elites and their international colla)orators& while recruiting religious 0oot
soldiers to 0ight and die 0or religion ), promising them the li0e-here-a0ter. It is clear that religious is trul, an
<opium o0 the masses=. Nigerians must loose ties o0 these religions to resort to the -0rican truths and
consociation& which de0ines the -0rican )rotherhood as a philosoph, while practicing Islam or ;hristianit, as the
case ma, )e& )ecause the moral 3alues o0 the -0rican )rotherhood is uni3ersal to )oth Islam and ;hristianit,
which claim commonplace mission o0 ci3ilisations& ha3e )ecome one o0 the maEor contending social 0orces in the
contemporar, Nigeria.

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