ETHICAL EVALUATION OF CIVIL UNREST IN PLATEAU STATE
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Civil unrest is a common feature of social life in all types of societies. The scale, trend and patterns of civil unrest vary across societies and periods (Alemika 1997). The prevalence of civil unrest both locally and internationally has manifested a lot of devastation in human civilization. Civil unrest have in no small measure debilitated advancement in developing countries. Even in the most advanced countries, civil unrest has continued to be a reoccurring saga and thus poses a need for collaborative efforts in combating its dangers. Civil unrest has consequently affected the behavioural patterns of various social groups and religious adherents. The consequences of civil unrest therefore have continually drawn the attention of various governments, voluntary agencies, religious organizations and the academia towards controlling the spectre of its persistence considering ethical philosophy.. The Nigerian situation presents a good case for examining the intricate patterns of persistent civil unrest. Moreover, there is a complete admixture of the effects of the triad religious faiths, African Traditional Religion, Islam and Christianity. Notably, Islam and Christianity are pitched to be the major rallying forces in escalating the scale of civil unrest in Nigeria.
Civil unrest is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe unrest that is caused by a group of people. Civil unrest is also described as “any public disturbance involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which cause an immediate danger of or results in damage or injury to the property or person of any other individual.” during civil unrest people generally choose not to observe a certain law, regulation to rule, this is usually to bring attention to their cause or concern (Falola, 1998). Civil unrest also known as civil disturbance can include a form of protest against major socio-political problems. It is essentially the breakdown of orderly society, of which examples can include: illegal parades, sit-ins, riots, sabotage, and other forms of crime. Even on occasions where it is typically intended to be a demonstration to the public or the government, such can escalate into general chaos.
Civil unrest can take many forms such as small gatherings or mass groups of people often blocking access to a specific building or disrupting day-to-day activities. Creating loud noises, shouting, or imitating a certain person is generally the disruptions that occur in civil unrest. The severity of civil unrest can often get out of hand leading to a riot with mob burns and terrorizing an individual. There can be inconvenience that civil unrest can cause by blocking roads, sidewalks, building (Falola, 1998). By people blocking this disturbs and interferes with the citizens that are not involved in the civil riot which is against the normal societal ethical practices.
Plateau state that the researcher is examining ethically based on the spate of civil unrest has had its own fair share of civil unrest which in recent years kept its people in fear of the unknown. However, various measures put in place at all levels has seen the gradual return of peace to the state. The past decade has seen recurrent crises across the state, in urban and rural areas. Thousands of lives have been lost in these violent conflicts, there has been extensive damage to property, and the development prospects of the state have been set back. The civil unrest has mainly been along religious lines, between Muslims and Christians, but ethnicity also has a central role in the conflicts and there are considerable political interests at stake. Jos, the state capital and a major northern city with a population of some one million inhabitants, is the epicentre of much of the insecurity in Plateau State and has been the site of some of the worst of the civil unrest. Episodes of mass killing and destruction have occurred in Jos in 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2010. The civil unrest has also affected other parts of the high plateau, in rural areas outside of Jos particularly in 2001 and 2010, when hundreds of people were killed in villages, in their fields, or while tending cattle. There have been massacres in the old mining settlements on the plateau, notably in 2001 and 2010. In rural areas there has also been widespread civil unrest between Berom farmers and Fulani pastoralists. This is generally framed as a conflict over land, but contrary to media reports, many of those involved tend not to think the conflict is about a struggle for grazing land or farmland. In some areas valuable dry-season farmland has changed hands, with Hausa and Fulani farmers being forced off the land (Blench, 2004). But much of the civil unrest appears to be politically inspired and xenophobic rather than arising out of competition for land – as the killings in the old mining settlements suggest.
The civil unrest in Plateau State began after two decades of increasing collective violence in other parts of northern Nigeria, the worst of which occurred in Kano, Kaduna and Bauchi States. Plateau State was largely peaceful during this period, 1980-2000. In fact, the first episode of mass violence in Jos since the anti-Igbo pogroms in 1966 occurred in 2001 (Danfulani & Fwatshak, 2002; Higazi, 2007).
Plateau State is one of the thirty-six constituent states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and according to the 2006 census has a population of 3.1 million people. It is a majority Christian state within northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria as a whole has a majority Muslim population but there are also large numbers of Christians living there, both in the far north (all of the main cities have Christian areas, mainly in „new‟ neighbourhoods – established during the colonial period – called Sabon Garis) and in the middle-belt, which is mainly Christian but still considered part of the north. Plateau State is located in the north-central zone and forms part of the middle-belt, a geopolitical idea which demographically consists mainly of national minorities – most of them now Christian – within the old Northern Region. Plateau State takes its name from the high plateau which dominates the state’s topography. The social development of plateau peoples and the historical position of the Plateau in relation to the rest of what is now northern Nigeria are somewhat distinctive, partly due to the terrain and the tremendous ethno-linguistic diversity of the area. There are dozens of languages spoken in Plateau State, marking it out from the predominantly Hausa-speaking areas further north – although, being the regional lingua franca of northern Nigeria, Hausa is also widely spoken on the Plateau. There has been a reaction against this in some areas, with a cultural resurgence that is encouraging the replacement of Hausa place names and ethnonyms with indigenous ones, and to a lesser extent the use of indigenous languages rather than Hausa. The sense of difference on the Plateau is also clear in social attitudes, politics, and patterns of life, and has affected trajectories of contemporary civil unrest in Plateau State, with mobilization around ethnicity and ideas of indigeneity being of major importance. However, this study is providing an ethical evaluation of civil unrest in Plateau State from 2001 to 2015.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This study explores the ethical implications of the peace in Plateau State was broken in 2001, when the city was previously known for its relative harmony and cosmopolitan outlook. Since 2001, violence has erupted in Jos city, capital of Plateau state, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. The ostensible dispute is over the “rights” of the indigene Berom/Anaguta/Afizere (BAA) group and the rival claims of the Hausa-Fulani settlers to land, power and resources. Indigene-settler conflicts are not new to Nigeria, but the country is currently experiencing widespread intercommunal strife, which particularly affects the nation unity with the trend of decaying ethical values.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1.6 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will be limited to Jos, the State capital of Plateau State with specific focus on Jos North Local government Area which is the main capital city. It will also cover the ethical and moral assumptions from the civil unrest between 2001 and 2015 in Jos North Local government Area.
Alemika, E.E.D. “Criminal Violence and Insecurity in Lagos State, Nigeria.” African Peace Review: Journal of Centre for Peace Research and Conflict Resolution 3.2 (1997): 72-97.
Blench, R. 2004. Natural resource conflicts in north-central Nigeria: A handbook and case studies. London: Mandaras Publishing.
Danfulani, U. and Fwatshak, S. 2002. „Briefing: The September 2001 events in Jos, Nigeria‟. African Affairs, 101: 243-255.
Falola, T. 1998. Violence in Nigeria: the crisis of religious politics and secular ideologies. Rochester: Rochester University Press.
Higazi, A. 2007. „Violence urbaine et politique à Jos (Nigeria), de la période colonial aux elections de 2007‟. Politique Africaine, 106: 69-91.
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