State Intervention And Communal Conflicts

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The nature of conflicts in the world has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War to the extent that conflicts between or among nation-states have reduced significantly, while the trend is that conflicts have increased within nation-states due to intense struggle for power and scarce resources between and among groups, thereby putting ethnic group against ethnic group and communities against communities. Consequently, Joshua (2014) observed that more than hundred (100) major conflicts occurred in the world, leaving more than twenty million (20,000,000) dead, several millions wounded and millions displaced persons.

In Africa, conflict on sub national level between communities or local militias is a wide spread problem. In fact, the continent experienced 386 communal conflicts between the period 1989 and 2014, with an estimate of 131, 563 people that lost their lives within same period. The countries affected include Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, withNigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo being the most affected, (Torbjornsson, 2016, Elfversson, 2013).

In Nigeria, this situation became more prevalent since the return to democratic rule in 1999, threatening the survival of Nigerian democracy and unity. Within the first three years of democratic rule in Nigeria, the country witnessed not less than forty violent communal conflicts. From the violent protest of the Niger-Delta over the perceived injustice for resource control and environmental degradation as well as quest for an equitable federal arrangement, to the Itsekiri-Ijaw violence in the Delta over claims of land ownership and boundary claims, the Ife-Modakeke communal conflict in Osun state, the ZangonKataf in Kaduna state, Tiv-Jukun in Taraba State and Eleme- Okrika in Rivers

state. Nigeria has never been confronted with such great security challenge as it presently experience evidenced by protracted communal clashes and killings and abduction by the Boko Haram sect.

No region has been spared the vicious scourge of conflict though their prevalence and intensity have not been the same in occurrences across the length and breadth of the nation. Thus, fingers are swift in pointing accusingly to colonial legacies and continual interplay of external and internal imperialist forces that fan the embers of violence for selfish aggrandisement. The present situation is further intensified by elements of globalisation, natural disasters, proliferation of weapons and light arms, corruption, executive lawlessness and leadership ineptitude (Chinwokwu, 2012: 393).

While some of these challenges are self-imposed and reinforced through greed-based behaviour, others are the result of poor institutional capacity of addressing widespread organised crime, general insecurity and conflict in the country. Furthermore, the institutional fragility of the state in terms of its ability and capacity to manage diversity, corruption, rising inequality between the rich and the poor, gross violation of human rights and contestation over land are the underlying issues of conflicts in Nigeria (Kwaja, 2009:102).

No doubt conflict could be functional especially if it leads to innovations and other positive changes in the society. On the other hand, it could be dysfunctional especially if it threatens order and stability of the very foundation of human society. One cannot overemphasise the fact that peaceful co-existence is a major requirement for any meaningful development to take place in the society, hence the need for order and stability in the society.

Therefore, Nigerian government has been responding to the challenges posed by the various forms of conflict in the country. However, the various government response

to these conflicts have been ad hoc and were not organised. This fact is supported by Omorogbe and Omohan (2005), when they asserted that there are two major strategies of conflict management often employed by government in Nigeria to tackle the problem of conflict each time they occur, the coercive and the judicial method.

Coercive method as the name suggests has to do with deployment of troops to the areas of conflict with the objective of controlling the conflict. In Nigeria, this method of managing conflict has taken many forms depending on the magnitude of the conflict in question. In a light conflict for instance, the conventional policemen are drafted to the conflict point assisted by the mobile police, but in a very serious conflict or crises, government may be forced to deploy the military for internal security operations, because of the nature of this kind of intervention however, the coercive method is associated with many vices, such as rape, beating and in some cases shooting of innocent citizens (Omorogbe and Omohan, 2005: 556).

On the other hand, the judicial strategy of conflict management entails the use of judicial commission or panel, usually people are selected from varied backgrounds to investigate the problems and submit report to government based on the terms of reference given to it. In Nigeria this strategy has created more bitterness than bring relief, because the commission‟s recommendations end up being shelved rather than implemented.

These strategies of managing conflict and security have not brought about the desired result because each of the strategies lacked adequate capacity to handle the conflict. These strategies end up suppressing the problem which later re-surfaces in the future with greater intensity and ferocity causing havoc on the people and government. Some of the reasons for the failure or poor performance of the often used conflict management strategies are poor logistics, delay in deployment of troops to the conflict areas, lack of cooperation by the parties to the conflicts, non-implementation recommendations or white paper submitted to the government by the panel of inquiry among others (Chinwokwu 2012: 104).

In support of the above view, Isa (2001) espoused that the institutional responses played by the state government or its agencies such as law enforcement agencies either aggravates the conflict by creating more suspicion through delays and non-implementation of government white papers, or suppresses it through the law enforcement agencies without tackling the underlying factors of the conflict, what is apparent is that there is emphasis on conflict suppression instead of management.

Gombe State which is situated in the North-eastern region of Nigeria, especially the southern Senatorial district which houses ethnic minorities, in recent times witnessed communal conflict with such violence and instability. These conflicts started in the 1990s with the Billiri-Kaltungocrisis in 1991, Tula-Awak conflict of 1999, Dadiya-Tula conflict 2006, Dadiya- Kaltungo 2007-2012 and the Dadiya-Waja conflict of 2013, in spite of setting up several committees and commissions such as the 2006 Judicial Commissions of Inquiry,the 2007 Joint Peace Security Committee,Seven Man Ad-hoc Committee, the 2013Peace Mission Committee and the 2014 Committee to Consolidate the Recommendations of All Previous Committees to tackle the communal conflicts by state government did bring the desired result.. Hence the need for this study, which focuses on state government intervention in managing the Dadiya, Kaltungo, Tula and Waja communal conflict, the aim is to draw lessons useful for managing the perennial conflicts in the Southern Senatorial District of Gombe state.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The phenomenon of conflict is not new to human society; this is because wherever you find human beings interacting at whatever levels, there is bound to be conflict. What is however important is the way these conflicts are managed or resolved to forestall future occurrence and avert massive and colossal loss of lives and properties.

For over a decade now, Dadiya, Tula, Kaltungo and Waja communities of Gombe southern senatorial district have continued to be enmeshed in communal conflict. The conflict started in 1990s with Billiri-Kaltungo in 1991, Tula-Awak 1999, Dadiya-Tula 2006, Dadiya-Kaltungo 2007-2012 and Dadiya-Waja 2013(Gombe state Government Reports to Consolidate All Previous committees‟ Report, 2014).

These series of conflicts that occurred as aforementioned claimed many lives and caused huge economic losses to communities concerned. For instance, the 2006 Dadiya- Tula communal conflict was caused according to Government Draft White Paper (2006) by boundary dispute during 2006 preparatory census exercise when there were overlapping registrations at GadanTaba, Kakur villages in Dadiya of Balanga Local Government and Tula of Kaltungo Local Government. As a result of this conflict, 8 people were reported dead, a total of 523 houses worth N48,030,294.00 were destroyed and plants and automobiles worth N3,908,000.00 were destroyed (Gombe State Government Draft White Paper, (2006:67).

Sequel to the above mentioned conflict, the government set up a Seven Man Judicial Commission of Inquiry to among others investigate the immediate and remote causes of the conflict, determine the extent of damages and to make recommendations which might resolve the problem to ensure lasting solutions. Consequently, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry did their work and recommended that a boundary demarcation be made using the Yola Federal highway to be a landmark boundary between the two communities. For reasons best known to the Gombe State government, the recommendations of the commission are yet to be implemented.

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