2eort to stoke tensions. In March, a single attack letanother 300 to 500 dead. In August, ve men werearrested while attempting to smuggle rocket launch-ers, grenades, AK–47s, and large quantities o cashinto Plateau State, o which Jos is the capital. OnChristmas day, twin car bombs in Jos killed nearly 80and wounded more than 100. Signaling a dangerousnew turn to this confict, the violent Islamist groupBoko Haram claimed responsibility or the explo-sions. The group had previously only been active innorthern Nigeria.The conlict in Jos is oten characterized asinter-religious or inter-ethnic, mainly between theChristian-dominated ethnic groups o the Anaguta,Azere, and Berom, and the predominantly MuslimHausa and Fulani groups. But, as is oten the casewith identity conficts in Arica, these are sociallyconstructed stereotypes that are manipulated to trig-ger and drive violence in Jos.
They veil deeper insti-tutional actors within Nigerian law that are abusedand exploited to deny citizens access to resources,basic rights, and participation in political processes—actors that, let unaddressed, have the potential totrigger violence across the country.Government responses to the confict are widelyperceived as ineective. At least 16 public commis-sions have been launched to examine the confictand identiy solutions, and many other studies havebeen conducted by independent groups. But thereis little political will to act on these ndings. Rec-ommendations go largely unheeded. Nor have orga-nizers and perpetrators o attacks been prosecuted.Federal and state governments have regularly workedat cross-purposes. While civil society groups have be-come increasingly engaged, this has had a polarizingeect in some cases.
Situated on the northern edge o the so-calledmiddle belt in central Nigeria where the country’spredominantly Muslim northern hal blends with thegenerally Christian south (see map), Jos is a relativelynew city. It was established as a mining transportationcamp in 1915 because o its proximity to nearby tinand columbite deposits. With a mild climate, highquality soil, abundant water resources, extensive graz-ing lands, and economic opportunities, it attractedmigrants rom around Nigeria and currently has apopulation o nearly 1 million. The city remains akey supplier and commercial center in the nationallivestock trade and is the site o the National Vet-erinary Research Institute. Beore being destroyedduring communal clashes in 2002, the Jos CentralMarket was one o West Arica’s biggest on accounto its proximity to a high-trac rail juncture betweennorthern and southern Nigeria. The city’s diversepopulation once exemplied the Plateau State slogan,“the home o peace and tourism.” Schools were otenintermixed, and business was conducted regardless o religious or ethnic aliation.
This began to change in the early 1990s ollowingan adjustment in the distribution o indigeneship cer-ticates. In Nigeria,
are “original” inhabitantso a local government area, or members o those ethnicgroups that trace their lineage back to the area. Allothers are considered “settlers,” or migrants. The dis-tinction was initially intended to allay concerns amongminority groups who eared that their traditional cus-toms and authority structures would be overwhelmedand eroded by the expansion o larger ethnic and re-ligious groups. However, in practice, the classicationhas oten been used to determine who “belongs” to aparticular locality, which in turn determines whethercitizens can participate in politics, own land, obtain ajob, or attend school.
Accordingly, the indigeneshipcerticate is now a dening document in the day-to-day lives o many Nigerians.
Chris Kwaja is a Lecturer and Researcher in the Centreor Conict Management at the University o Jos, Nigeria.
“the ethnic or religiousdimensions o the conicthave subsequently beenmisconstrued as the primarydriver o violence when, in act,disenranchisement, inequality,and other practical ears are theroot causes”