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Case Studies

The three case studies presented below examine different aspects of the indigeneity issue in the contexts of Plateau, Kaduna and Delta States.  They illustrate in different ways the interface between indigeneity, discrimination, intercommunal tension and violence. The Plateau State case study focuses largely on the plight of Hausa and Jarawa residents of the state who are treated as non-indigenes even though they cannot claim indigene status anywhere else in Nigeria.  The Kaduna case study describes some of the ways in which the indigeneity issue has become entangled with the state’s existing intercommunal divisions and has made an already tense situation worse than it might otherwise be.  Lastly, the case of Warri in Delta State is presented as an example of how the feelings of marginalization and exclusion generated in part by the issue of indigeneity can boil over into violence on their own. 

Plateau State: The Case of “Stateless Citizens”

Plateau State lies near the heart of Nigeria’s “Middle Belt,” an ethnically diverse region that sprawls across much of central Nigeria.108  Blessed with a beautiful landscape of gently rolling hills and a pleasant climate, Plateau State labels itself Nigeria’s “Home of Peace and Tourism.”109  Since 2001, however, the state has been better known for a series of bloody intercommunal clashes between its indigene and settler populations.  

At independence, most of the Middle Belt was contained within Nigeria’s Hausa-dominated and predominantly Muslim Northern Region.  This arrangement was bitterly resented by the Middle Belt’s numerous and mainly Christian ethnic minorities, many of whom tended to regard the Hausa as their historical oppressors.110 These groups, many of them quite small in number, complained of being systematically marginalized by the Hausa-led regional government, and many felt that their culture and traditions were in danger of being swamped and destroyed by the region’s much larger Hausa population.  Largely in response to this sentiment and the political demands it gave rise to, most of the Middle Belt was broken apart from the North and carved up into separate states by the federal government beginning in the 1960s.  Plateau State was created in 1976 as part of this process.111

The ethnic minorities whose leaders came together and successfully agitated for the creation of Plateau State are acutely aware of the fact that they remain tiny minorities on the national political scene.  Many argue that Plateau State is the only part of Nigeria where they can expect to be treated fairly and as full citizens because it is the only part of Nigeria they can politically control. Plateau’s Birom indigenes, for example, enjoy a position of demographic and political significance in and around Jos but may number no more than 300,000 nationwide.  The Hausa, by contrast, are often estimated to number well over 30 million people, or more than a quarter of Nigeria’s total population (reliable population figures are impossible to come by in Nigeria because demographics are so highly politicized and because the country has not conducted a reliable census since 1963).112  Because of the political realities all of this implies and in order to protect their cultural heritage, the argument goes, these groups have no choice but to jealously guard their status as the only “true indigenes” of the state. 

As a matter of state government policy, non-indigenes in Plateau State are ineligible to compete for academic scholarships, face discriminatory university admissions policies, and are made to pay higher school fees than indigene students at the tertiary level.113  Non-indigenes are also generally not recruited into the Plateau State civil service.114  These discriminatory policies are all widely perceived as having grown stricter and more severe over time due to political pressures that have built up in response to increasing levels of unemployment and poverty.  One professor at the University of Jos explained to Human Rights Watch that

[s]tates like Plateau now experience graduate unemployment on a scale never before imagined.  Getting civil service employment is a real privilege now.  So even within the indigene communities there is always grumbling about which indigene group is getting more employment than another.115 

In Plateau, however, the lines between indigene and settler are exceptionally difficult to draw and are bitterly contested in some parts of the state.  Most controversially, the state and local governments have labeled the members of some Hausa and Jarawa communities that were founded during the first half of the 19th century as non-indigenes.  These “settlers,” lacking any other place to call home, have refused to accept the label or the pervasive discrimination that accompanies it.  In recent years, this disagreement, fueled by political mismanagement and manipulation, has exacerbated the state’s existing religious and interethnic tensions to the point of bloodshed.  

Jos is the Plateau State capital and sits perched atop the plateau that gives the state its name, near the border with Kaduna state to the west.  Yelwa is a much more provincial community located some two hundred kilometers to the southeast of Jos, in Shendam Local Government Area.  Both towns are home to large communities of people, mainly from the Hausa and Jarawa ethnic groups, who have been labeled non-indigenes even though they cannot legitimately claim indigene status in any other part of Nigeria.

The Hausa community in Jos and the ethnically similar Jarawa community in Yelwa each trace their roots back to people who settled in Plateau State in the first half of the nineteenth century.  The question of precisely when and under what circumstances they arrived has evolved into a matter of great controversy.  The Hausa claim that their ancestors were the original founders of Jos, a claim that is bitterly disputed by their ethnic Afizere, Anaguta and Berom neighbors.  Similarly, Yelwa’s Jarawa inhabitants claim to have been the first to settle there, in 1824, while the area’s Gemai population insists that the Jarawa were second-comers.

Whatever the merits of each group’s interpretation of history, the Hausa and the Jarawa in Jos and Yelwa have lost the argument and are now subject to the same discriminatory policies meted out to other non-indigene groups in the state.  Groups considered by the state and local governments to be indigenes include the Gemai in Yelwa and the Afizere, Anaguta and Berom in Jos.  The Hausa and Jarawa have both been exceptionally vocal in protesting this state of affairs, arguing that even if they cannot prove that they were the first to arrive on the land they call home, it is absurd to argue that they are non-indigenes of a place their families have called home for over 150 years.  One Hausa man from Jos, asked how he reacted to the idea that he should trace his roots to wherever his ancestors had migrated from if he wanted to enjoy indigene status, replied, “Let them [the ‘indigenes’ of Jos] go and trace their origins as well and we can all leave this place together.”116   

The discrimination endured by Jos’s Hausa and Yelwa’s Jarawa communities as non-indigenes is especially harmful because many of them cannot trace their origins back to any other place where they might be able to claim indigene status.  As stateless citizens— people who are indigenes of nowhere—they face a level of disadvantage and discrimination considerably worse than that endured by other non-indigene communities, who are often able to mitigate the effects of discrimination by maintaining connections to their states of “origin.”

Plateau’s stateless non-indigenes cannot obtain a certificate of indigeneity from any local government in Nigeria unless they do so illegally.  As noted above, without a certificate of indigeneity attesting to their state of “origin” they cannot apply for a place in many federal universities, for positions in the federal civil service, or for jobs in the military or police forces.  Unable to compete on an equal basis for opportunities available at the state level and locked out of most federal government employment or education altogether, many young people from these communities find themselves with no hope of further education, employment or socio-economic advancement. 

The Jarawa of Yelwa

In the case of Yelwa’s Jarawa community, their current non-indigene status rankles even more because until 1990, members of the community say, they were able to obtain certificates of indigeneity with ease.  In that year the Long Gemai, the traditional ruler of the Gemai people, apparently instructed district heads throughout Shendam LGA to stop signing off on applications for certificates of indigeneity submitted by Yelwa’s Jarawa community. The same treatment was allegedly meted out to other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups who had been considered indigenes up until then.117 Human Rights Watch interviewed the district head responsible for Yelwa, who is Gemai, and he acknowledged that “to get an indigene certificate you must be Gemai.”  He also argued that if he issued the certificates to anyone else he would be “cheating” his people:

The State government might come and say, “there is a recruitment for the police.  Each local government should bring five people.”  Now, anyone who has a certificate from Shendam can go and apply—this means that if I give [the certificates] to them [the Jarawa] I am cheating my people. 

When asked how he felt about the plight of members of Yelwa’s Jarawa community who could not claim indigene status anywhere else, the district head replied, “I don’t care.  They do not own this place; we do.”118

The secretary of Shendam LGA, the local government official directly responsible for signing off on certificates of indigeneity after applications are approved by the district head, also confirmed that Yelwa’s Jarawa “cannot” be indigenes of Shendam.  While Jarawa community leaders said that they had personally visited his office on many occasions to complain about this policy, the secretary insisted that he had “never” received any such complaints and had no idea that it was a source of dissatisfaction or controversy.119

The district heads in Shendam are all appointed directly by the Long Gemai and their decisions on these matters can be reversed or ignored at the discretion of elected local government authorities.  Local government officials, however, have acquiesced in the district heads’ actions and Jarawa residents of Yelwa are no longer being issued indigene certificates.  Jarawa residents of Yelwa said that local officials changed the logo on the indigeneity certificates at the same time so that they could stop honoring certificates issued prior to the change in policy.  “It boggles the imagination,” said one Jarawa man.  “My mother and I were both born here and I enjoyed indigene status—but now my children cannot enjoy it.  Why?  They just say that we are not a native tribe, by what qualification I don’t know.”120

There are numerous cases of discrimination endured by Jawara youth seeking educational and employment opportunities:  Jarawa community leaders have compiled a list of 139 young people who had not been able to take up offers of admission to various federal universities and the Nigerian Defense Academy in Kaduna; military or police service; and other government job opportunities between 1999 and 2005 because they could not produce the requisite indigene form.121

Human Rights Watch interviewed one young Jarawa woman in Yelwa who graduated from secondary school in 2003 near the top of her class.  Over the course of the next year and a half, she was admitted to several different universities but was not able to enroll in any of them because she could not produce the certificate of indigeneity that had to be presented in order to register.122  Her father made repeated trips to the local government offices in Shendam to plead her case but was turned away each time.  In 2004, she said, “My father said I could not stay at home without doing anything, but because I could not get this indigene form I could not get into a school.  So my father forced me to get married, and I obeyed.”  In 2005, her husband divorced her, leaving her alone to care for their six-month-old son.  She said that although her father had since agreed to let her make another attempt at pursuing her education, “I don’t see how this can happen because I cannot get that form.”123

Human Rights Watch interviewed several other young Jarawa residents of Yelwa who had done well in secondary school but were unable to continue their education or find employment because they could not get an indigene certificate.  One young man said that he had filled out applications to several universities throughout northern Nigeria over the course of two years and was accepted to several but ultimately denied admission because he could not produce an indigeneity certificate.  In 2005, he said, “I did not fill out any applications.  My father is tired of spending money on these forms with no return, so I am just sitting at home doing nothing.”124 

Some of Yelwa’s Jarawa youth have been able to circumvent that problem by obtaining certificates of indigeneity from local governments in other states, either because their families actually have roots in those places or because they were able to induce local officials to provide them improperly.  But for many others this is not possible.  The young woman whose father forced her to marry after her inability to obtain an indigene certificate kept her out of university told Human Rights Watch that, “I even asked my grandfather and he said that I cannot claim any other place other than Shendam because this is the only home we have.”125

The Hausa of Jos

Hausa non-indigenes in Jos voiced many complaints similar to those of Yelwa’s Jarawa community.  In addition, they complained that they were subjected to a range of other, informal discriminatory practices, mainly in the public school system. 

Human Rights Watch interviewed a group of ten public elementary and secondary school teachers, assistant headmasters and parents, all of them Hausa and all of them living in Jos North LGA.  The group complained that the local government systematically diverted resources and infrastructure away from schools whose student body was primarily Hausa, with the result that predominantly Hausa schools were consistently the worst schools in the LGA.  They also complained that Hausa students who would normally be enrolled in other schools were almost always channeled into these under-resourced schools.  Public schools throughout Plateau State are consistently resource-starved and overcrowded, but the interviewees complained that conditions were consistently and noticeably worse in predominantly Hausa schools.  One teacher said that his school had 4,000 students, for whom there were no toilets and only a handful of desks.126  Another alleged that after the headmaster of his school embezzled roughly one million Naira (roughly U.S.$7,700) that had been raised by the predominantly Hausa local parents’ association to refurbish the school’s classrooms, the local government refused even to investigate the matter. 

Parents also complained that school officials refused to enroll their children into their public schools if they claimed Jos North as the children’s “local government of origin” on school enrollment forms,127 insisting that they enter some local government outside of Jos.  They also said that while the local government offered financial assistance to some students to help them cover exam fees and waived school fees for others on the basis of economic hardship, Hausa students were routinely excluded from such benefits.128 

Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm the substance of these complaints, but the manner in which some school and government officials responded to them was troubling.  A spokesman for the Plateau State governor’s office, asked to respond to the allegations, said only that even if such problems existed they were not important:

No one is crying out about discrimination in the public schools because there is always the private school alternative… There are lots of private schools [in Jos] and many people do not want their children to go to government schools anyway because the standards are usually lower.129

Such lack of concern on the part of government is troubling when combined with the openly hostile attitude of at least a few indigene school officials towards their Hausa students and their parents.  One Birom woman, an indigene of Jos, who is the principal of a public school with a large population of Hausa students in Jos, hypothesized that the complaints of Hausa parents could be explained by the fact that many were the descendants of “criminals” or were “born to prostitutes.”  “Because of this,” she asserted, “they are more hostile.”  She went on to say that:

I have worked with these people for five years and they always try to manipulate and dominate you… To them, the concept of going to school is just to wear a school uniform and collect your certificate at the end of the day… The truth is that sometimes they want to oppress and subjugate a particular school for some unknown agenda.130

While such attitudes cannot be regarded as typical of those held by other public school employees in Jos, Hausa parents and teachers complained that they had no form of recourse when faced with such hostility and contempt on the part of the people meant to educate their children. Two of the Hausa teachers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they had reported problems in their schools to the local government authorities, only to be threatened with disciplinary action.  “The more you complain the more they will bark at you and threaten you,” one teacher complained.131

As in Yelwa, indigene community and political leaders have taken a strong and unequivocal stand against the Jos Hausa community’s agitation for indigene status.  When the current Gbong Gwon Jos, or traditional Berom ruler of Jos, was asked in an interview with Tell magazine whether he believed that the Hausa would remain non-indigenes “even if they have been here for 1,000 years,” the Gbong Gwon Jos replied, “You are absolutely right.  That is what I am talking about… None of them is going to be given indigeneship here and that is the truth.”132 

The views of Plateau State’s elected officials are no less rigid. A Plateau government spokesperson, asked whether it was fair to impose non-indigene status on Hausa residents of Jos who could not claim indigene status anywhere else, suggested that the Hausa could become indigenes only by abandoning their language, culture and ethnic identity:

The non-indigene could say, “I want to become Berom.  I want to become one of you.”  But he never does that.  They need to integrate—to say, “from today my children are members of this community.  I have no other language or culture.”  This would solve the problem.  But if you stay here and say you are an Igbo or a Hausa, you are identifying yourself as a settler.133

Indigeneity and intercommunal violence in Plateau State

Since 2001, Plateau State has been rocked by a succession of bloody intercommunal clashes that Human Rights Watch estimates has claimed at least two thousand to three thousand lives.134  The most destructive of these have pitted Jos and Yelwa’s Hausa and Jarawa “settler” communities against their indigene neighbors.   

In Jos in September 2001, clashes between indigenes and mainly Hausa non-indigenes claimed more than one thousand lives and left several thousand more people displaced.  One of the immediate triggers of the violence was the appointment of a controversial Hausa political figure to a key statewide post within a federal poverty eradication program; indigenes felt that the appointment should have gone to one of their own.135 

During the first half of 2004, more than a thousand people were killed in clashes that took place in and around Yelwa and tens of thousands of people were displaced.  The violence around Yelwa peaked in May 2004 with attacks by members of various Christian, indigene communities on Yelwa’s predominantly Jarawa non-indigene population that saw more than 700 people killed in just two days.136  Much of Yelwa was razed to the ground and hundreds of dead Jarawa were buried in a mass grave near the center of town.137 

Reflecting a trend common throughout much of Nigeria, the long-simmering tensions between indigenes and non-indigenes in Jos and Yelwa overlap with Plateau State’s increasingly tense sectarian divisions.  The Hausa and Jarawa non-indigenes in Jos and Yelwa are overwhelmingly Muslim, and their indigene neighbors are predominantly Christian.138  In Plateau State these dual sources of tension have fed upon one another to the point that it has become difficult to separate them, and each has made the other more volatile and divisive. 

Plateau State politics have long played a role in exacerbating these multiple sources of tension.  Plateau State owes its very existence to the demands of Middle Belt minorities for political independence from the Hausa-Fulani Muslims of Northern Nigeria, and many Plateau State politicians have continued to champion the idea that the state’s political mission should be to help the state’s indigenes realize the material benefits of their “emancipation” from Hausa domination.   The rhetoric associated with the political movement some Plateau State politicians refer to as “emancipation policy”139 has proven politically popular among indigenes and it has helped to justify the policies that relegate the centuries-old Hausa and Jarawa communities in Jos and Yelwa to non-indigene status. 

Hausa and Jarawa non-indigenes who demand equal citizenship rights are often accused by indigene community leaders of conspiring to reestablish dominion over the current indigene people of the state.  “This issue is freely canvassed during electoral campaigns,” one professor at the University of Jos told Human Rights Watch.  “It is very inflammatory.  They say, ‘non-indigenes have dominated you and we will emancipate you.’”140  As evidence of the need for vigilance against Hausa attempts at domination, indigene politicians point to the favored status the Hausa supposedly enjoyed during the reign of Hausa-led military administrations.  Indigene political leaders also actively promote the fallacious belief that Hausa non-indigenes’ complaints of marginalization are completely disingenuous because they could easily claim indigene status in any of northern Nigeria’s predominantly Hausa states.  The Birom traditional ruler of Jos has made a point of referring in public discourse to Hausa attempts to claim “double indigene status” because they supposedly already enjoy indigene status somewhere else.141

Government mismanagement of the state’s indigene-settler tensions 

The administration of Joshua Dariye, the current governor of Plateau State, has often been accused of particularly egregious mismanagement of the state’s indigene-settler tensions.  The 2001 violence in Jos and the 2004 massacre in Yelwa both occurred on Governor Dariye’s watch.  Perhaps the best-known example of the governor’s penchant for vitriolic attacks upon his Hausa constituents came in an interview he gave to the Daily Champion newspaper in March 2004.  In that interview, the Governor suggested that the demands of Jos’s Hausa community to be recognized as indigenes might be grounds for evicting them from the state altogether:

From the on-set, let me say it again, as I have before that Jos, capital of Plateau State, is owned by the natives.  Simple.  Every Hausa-man in Jos is a settler whether he likes it or not.  In the past, we might not have told them the home truth, but now we have… They are here with us, we are in one state but that does not change the landlord/settler equation, no matter how much we cherish peace… Our problem here today is that… the tenant [is] becoming very unruly.  But the natural law here is simple: if your tenant is unruly, you serve him a quit notice!... This unruly group must know that we are no longer willing to tolerate the rubbish they give us.  The days of  “over tolerance” are gone forever.  All of us must accept this home truth.142

These comments, made at a moment when indigene-settler tensions had already erupted into violence around Yelwa, were widely condemned as irresponsible and inflammatory.  Less than two months later, the violence reached a bloody peak with the Yelwa massacre.

Less than two weeks after the slaughter in Yelwa, President Obasanjo made the controversial decision to temporarily sack Governor Dariye and replace him with an interim administrator.  Obasanjo justified the move by accusing Dariye of incompetence and of being “an instigator and a threat to peace.”143

In August of the same year, Obasanjo inaugurated a month-long Peace Conference mandated to explore the root causes of the conflict in Plateau State and produce recommendations about how to resolve them.  Unsurprisingly, the Conference’s report cited the indigene-settler problem as being one of the principal causes of violent conflict in the state.  However, the report elicited a great deal of controversy by explicitly rejecting Hausa and Jarawa claims on indigene status in Jos and Yelwa, going so far as to state that they “should not be treated different” from other non-indigene communities in the state.144 That finding has been enthusiastically embraced by the Plateau State government since Governor Dariye was reinstated in November 2004.

The Plateau state government claims to have accepted the report of the Plateau peace conference and its conclusions as a legitimate source of guidance for state policy in dealing with intercommunal tensions.145 The peace conference report did more than identify who it believed the “true indigenes” of Jos, Yelwa and other parts of the state to be, however.  As one representative at the conference reminded Human Rights Watch, “we also recommended that indigene groups must accord full rights and privileges to other tribes resident in Jos.”146  But as evidenced above, that call has been completely ignored by the state government.  It is not clear whether the state government has made more meaningful progress in implementing the other key recommendations of the report.

Kaduna State: Indigeneity and Intra-state Conflict

Kaduna State straddles the ethnic and religious divide between northern Nigeria and the ethnically diverse population of the Middle Belt region.  Northern Kaduna’s population is largely Muslim and Hausa-Fulani, while the state’s southern reaches are home to some thirty different ethnic groups and are predominantly Christian.  The state capital, also called Kaduna, is a cosmopolitan city whose population reflects the diversity of the state and of Nigeria as a whole.147  The city is home to communities of people from all over the state and to large populations of non-indigenes from other parts of Nigeria, including large and deeply rooted Igbo and Yoruba communities whose founders migrated during the colonial period in pursuit of jobs and other economic opportunities.

Relations between the Hausa-Fulani of northern Kaduna and the so-called minority tribes of the south have always been tense.  Prior to independence, the southern minorities suffered through decades of repression and violence at the hands of the powerful Hausa Emirate of Zazzau, and the memory of that history continues to embitter relations between northern and southern Kaduna today.148  This acrimony did not dissipate with the end of colonial rule.  Since 1960 intrastate politics have continued to be dominated by claims of marginalization and exclusion voiced by many community leaders in southern Kaduna, who claim that the state government openly favored its Hausa population in every conceivable way.  On several occasions these tensions have boiled over into violence in various parts of the state, most famously in 1992 when the Hausa community in the town of Zangon-Kataf was almost totally destroyed in an attack by some of their Christian ethnic Atyap neighbors. 

Following a trend common to other parts of Nigeria, Kaduna’s longstanding intercommunal tensions have increasingly been expressed in religious rather than in ethnic terms.  The boundary between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna overlaps for the most part with the north-south divide, a fact that is by no means a coincidence.  The southern Kaduna minority tribes’ initial embrace of Christianity was to some extent a reaction to the marginalization and oppression they had suffered under Hausa Muslim rule.149 

Religious polarization and Kaduna’s north-south ethnic divide fed upon one another to spark bloody intercommunal clashes in Kaduna city in 2000 and 2002.  In 2000 an estimated two thousand people were killed in intercommunal clashes sparked by the proposed introduction of Shari’a (Islamic law) in Kaduna State, and in 2002 clashes triggered in part by controversy surrounding plans to hold the Miss World beauty contest in Nigeria claimed around 250 more lives.150 

In addition to providing a new set of triggers for violent conflict, the increasing tendency for Kaduna’s intercommunal tensions to be expressed in religious terms has drawn groups into violent conflict who have no interest in the deeper underlying causes of north-south tension in the state.  Many non-indigene Christian Igbos fought, died or had their property destroyed in Kaduna’s 2000 and 2002 clashes, for example.151  Some Igbo reacted by packing up and moving to Nigeria’s predominantly Igbo southeast following those clashes, and many of those who remain in Kaduna are increasingly likely to be drawn into any future conflict with sectarian overtones.  One Igbo professional living in Kaduna ominously warned that “in Kaduna now almost every Igboman is armed.  They don’t want to run any more; whenever there is another crisis they want to take their guns and stand in front of their shops.”152

In Kaduna, the issue of indigeneity has added to this already volatile mix of overlapping tensions.  Like other Nigerian states, Kaduna has embraced policies that openly discriminate against non-indigenes, and those policies place people who are not able to claim indigene status at a severe disadvantage.153  In recent years, local officials in different parts of the state have aggravated sectarian tensions by improperly refusing to issue indigene certificates to people who do not share their religion.  In other cases, the issue of indigeneity has itself been a subject of violent dispute.

Religious discrimination and certificates of indigeneity in the city of Kaduna

Local officials in at least some parts of Kaduna have been accused of refusing to issue certificates of indigeneity to people who do not share their religion.  Such complaints are especially widespread in some districts of Kaduna city, where Christians complain that it has become impossible for them to obtain certificates of indigeneity in recent years.

Certificates of indigeneity are issued by elected local government administrations in Kaduna, but anyone seeking these forms must first have their application approved by their district head.  If a district head does not certify that a person is an indigene of his district, local government administrations will normally refuse to issue the indigene certificate. 

In Kaduna city, district heads are appointed by the Emir of Zazzau in Zaria, and are directly accountable only to the Emir.  Christians in Kaduna city complain that for the past several years some district heads have refused to approve applications for certificates of indigeneity that are submitted by Christians and that local government administrations have done nothing to curb the practice.  Instead, some Christian indigenes of the city have been issued “Certificates of Settlership,” documents given out to non-indigenes that serve no useful purpose other than as a form of identification. 

Christian community leaders in Kaduna allege that this practice is increasingly widespread.  The general secretary of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria told Human Rights Watch that in general in Kaduna city, “[p]eople with Christian names will not get an indigene form.  People with Muslim names have no problem.”154  Similarly, a pastor from Barnawa district in Kaduna South local government complained that in that district “[a]nyone whose name is Paul, Peter or any other Christian name is a settler now.”155

Human Rights Watch interviewed several young Christians from different parts of Kaduna city who had all been denied certificates of indigeneity—solely, according to them, because of their religion.  One young man from Barnawa district in Kaduna South LGA said that he had applied for a certificate of indigeneity in 2003 because it was required in order to apply for admission to the Nigerian Defense Academy in Kaduna.  He assumed that the application would be approved because both of his parents are indigenes of Kaduna South and have the certificates to prove it.  When his district head returned his application to him so that he could take it to the local government offices, however, he saw that he had been approved only for a certificate of settlership.  By the time of his interview with Human Rights Watch in November 2005, he had tried without success for nearly three years to convince the district head or his local government to reverse the decision.  “When I talked to the district head, he said it is not his fault, that the fault lies with the Emir of Zaria.  [He said that] the Emir said that they should give certificates of settlership to Christian people,” he said.  The interviewee also said that officials in the local government refused even to meet with him to discuss the matter.  Because of his relegation to non-indigene status, he said, “I cannot pursue my education.”156     

Human Rights Watch interviewed several other Christian residents of Barnawa and Makera districts in Kaduna South LGA with similar stories.  All of them were young people who had been seeking certificates of indigeneity in order to pursue higher education, and all of them said that their lives had been put on hold because they could not obtain the form.  Asked to explain the practical significance of this problem, one young man from Barnawa said, “If you are given a settlership form you are not an indigene of that area, so you are not eligible for any quota—it could be for a job or for admission [to an institution of higher learning].  You are completely disqualified from everything.”157  

The president of the Southern Kaduna Peoples’ Union, an umbrella group that seeks to advance the position of the southern Kaduna minorities throughout the state, told Human Rights Watch that he had appealed directly to the chairman of Kaduna South LGA to stop these practices.  “He said that he did not believe us.  He told us this is an illegal thing and so it cannot be happening,” the interviewee said, adding, “But it is going on, and who is going to stop it?  It doesn’t make sense to the young people.”158 

Christian anger over these practices is made worse by a widespread belief that the same local officials who improperly refuse to issue certificates of indigeneity to members of their community give them out freely to Hausa Muslims who are not actually from Kaduna state.  As one Kaduna-based pastor put it, “People feel the Hausa are very mobile and just take the indigene form from wherever they want.”159

Both Muslim and Christian leaders in Kaduna state who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch explained discriminatory practices in “their” local government areas as a justifiable response to the marginalization they suffered in areas outside of their control.  A leading Muslim figure in Kaduna went so far as to say that he found Christian complaints about discrimination “amusing” because “if you go to their part [of the state]… the majority of Muslims are always regarded as non-indigenes.”160  And one prominent Christian community leader admitted to Human Rights Watch that “[o]utside Kaduna town Christian local governments are doing the same thing in retaliation—refusing to issue certificates of indigeneity to Muslims.”161 

Discrimination and violence against Hausa Muslims in Zangon-Kataf

The sad history of Zangon-Kataf in southern Kaduna is often cited as one of the clearest examples of the absurdities and divisiveness of the indigene-settler divide.  Zangon-Kataf consists of a modest and principally Hausa town called Zango ringed by ethnic Atyap162 farming communities.  The Atyap are predominantly Christian while Zango town’s Hausa are for the most part Muslim.  The Atyap and the Hausa have long been embroiled in a bitter and seemingly interminable debate about which group settled the area first, a disagreement that has proven impossible to resolve empirically because both groups have inhabited the area since at least the mid-18th century and possibly as far back as 1650.163   

In February and again in May 1992, tensions between the two communities exploded into violence that was initially triggered by a dispute over the location of—and control over—a market used by both the Hausa and Atyap communities.  The Hausa community of Zango town bore the brunt of the fighting: hundreds of Hausa were killed and the town was almost entirely destroyed.  News of the violence in Zangon-Kataf sparked clashes in other parts of the state including the state capital.164

The controversy over who the “true indigenes” of Zangon-Kataf are has a deep emotional importance to both sides of the dispute.  Under British rule Zangon-Kataf was placed under the control of the Zaria Emirate, whose Hausa administrators treated the ethnic Atyap population with contempt and brutality throughout much of the colonial period.165  The Atyap have struggled, successfully, for a greater degree of local autonomy since independence but have never forgotten the historical wrongs their community suffered under Emirate rule.  As is increasingly true throughout Nigeria, having been able to secure recognition as the true indigenes of their community, many Atyap feel it only appropriate that all the benefits flowing to their local government should go to them alone. 

Atyap rejection of their Hausa neighbors’ claims to indigene status is also fueled by a belief that the Hausa have an inherent predilection for the domination of others and seek indigene status only in order to subjugate and marginalize the Atyap.  That belief, common in political discourse throughout southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt, is fueled by the intemperate rhetoric of political and community leaders throughout southern Kaduna.  One youth leader from southern Kaduna, for example, told Human Rights Watch that “The Hausaman is the only man who refuses to submit to traditional authority,” while a pastor from the south of the state argued that the Hausa agitation for indigene status in Zangon-Kataf merely reflected the basic truth that “[t]he average Hausa person, if he is among ten men he would like to be the ruler.”166

Most of Zangon-Kataf’s surviving Hausa residents fled in the wake of the violence, but a minority eventually returned and built new homes amidst the weed-choked ruins of the town they lost in 1992.  Many returned in part because of state government promises of compensation and protection—and also because many simply had nowhere else to go.  But the members of Zangon-Kataf’s Hausa population interviewed by Human Rights Watch all said that they were deeply dissatisfied with the treatment they have received from their Atyap neighbors since their return, alleging that for well over a decade they had been subjected to discrimination, harassment, and even violence on a routine basis.         

Hausa community leaders in Zangon-Kataf complain that their community is systematically discriminated against by the predominantly Atyap local government officials.  “If we want anything we have to go through the local government,” one elderly Hausa man told Human Rights Watch.  “But those people, they hate us and will do nothing for us.”167  Several other individuals confirmed this impression, alleging that they were denied the right to compete for jobs and other opportunities made available through the local government administration.  One man complained that “[t]hey will call all of the people from the LGA for interviews, saying that they want to recruit one person [for a job].  When we send our boys there the LGA sends them home.”168 

Members of the community also complained that despite repeated government promises, much of the land that had been seized from them by their Atyap neighbors after the 1992 violence had yet to be returned.  Human Rights Watch also interviewed several men who said that within the past year they had been chased off their land by Atyap youths; some of them had abandoned their fields as a result.  One man told Human Rights Watch that in 2004, just before harvest time, “I went to the farm and was trying to harvest locust beans.  When I was in the top of a tree, some Kataf [Atyap] men came and used a slingshot to shoot me down.”  The man said that he had shattered his cheek, either when he was shot or as a result of his fall from the tree (the left side of his face appeared to have been badly mangled without having properly healed).169  Another man, who bore several deep scars from machete wounds on his shoulders, said that he had gotten those wounds in 2004 when he was attacked and left lying unconscious in his fields by a group of Atyap youths.170

Hausa community leaders said that they had reported more than two dozen incidents of violence and harassment to the police since 2003.  In no case had the police made any arrests.  The victim of one attack said that when he went to the police station, the officer who took his report “asked me, ‘Where do you come from?  Are you a stranger?’” and then began questioning whether he had the right to file a report; that policeman was reprimanded by a superior officer who overheard the exchange, but in the end no action was taken on the complaint.171  Another man said that after he was chased off his land by a group of Atyap youth who had thrown rocks at him, he went directly to the Zangon-Kataf village head to complain.  On his way home he was attacked and beaten by a gang of young Atyap men.172

Several members of the Hausa community said they saw these attacks as evidence that their Atyap neighbors did not think that the Hausa had any right to remain in Zangon-Kataf.  Many community members also complained of routine verbal harassment when they moved through the Atyap parts of town.  “Any time they see us, they call us ‘bako’ [stranger],” complained one farmer.  “Even if you sit next to them on a bus and ask them to shift over they say, ‘Bah, bako!’”  The victims of some of the violent attacks described above said their assailants told them that they had no real right to use the land because they are not the owners of Zangon-Kataf.  One man said that one day when he went to his field, “I saw a crowd of Kataf [Atyap] boys.  They asked me to leave the farm and said, ‘How did you get this land?  It is not yours.’ They threatened to kill me but I refused to leave and so they beat me unconscious.”173

Many community members said that they were miserable living in what they described as an environment of intense hostility and physical insecurity, but that they had no choice other than to stay on and hope that things improved.  One elderly man expressed that sentiment this way:

We feel dissatisfied and unhappy when people tell us that we are not of this place.  We have been here for over two hundred years.  Our parents were born here and we ourselves were born here.  We know no other place other than here and so we have nowhere else to go.174

Other community members who had been listening in loudly confirmed that sentiment, with one man asserting that “[w]e are proud that Zango is our town, and in any case we have no place other than Zango.”175

Delta State: The Ownership Controversy in Warri 

Warri is the largest city in Nigeria’s southwestern Delta State and is a major hub of the country’s oil industry.  In recent years it has also acquired the unenviable reputation of being one of Nigeria’s most troubled and violent cities.

In some ways Warri’s problems are similar to those of the restive Niger Delta as a whole.  Delta State produces some 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil revenues, and as a result the state government takes in far more revenue than all but two of the other states in the federation.176  In spite of its relative abundance of resources, Delta State’s corruption-riddled administration has made little progress in addressing the widespread poverty and unemployment that plague the state’s population.  The 2003 state and federal elections in Delta State were marred by rampant fraud, undermining hope that meaningful political change could be effected through democratic processes. 177

This state of affairs has led to widespread discontent, especially among the state’s increasingly militant “youth.”178  A number of well armed militias have emerged throughout the state, many of which champion (with varying degrees of sincerity) a political agenda centered around demands for greater local control of oil revenues.  In addition to attacking or extorting money from multinational oil companies, these groups sometimes fight among themselves along ethnic lines or for control over the trade in crude oil stolen from the oil pipelines that crisscross the Delta.179  

In and around Warri, the Niger Delta’s broader problems have become inextricably bound up with a long-running controversy over who the “true indigenes” of the city are.  Warri is home to three different ethnic groups that each claim to be the town’s true “owners”—the Ijaw, the Itsekiri and the Urhobo, and each has compiled elaborately detailed treatises detailing their historical and demographic claims upon the place.180  Each group has made some attempt to claim that they were the first to settle the area, and each group has made claims about their demographic strength that are rejected by their neighbors. This dispute predates Nigeria’s independence, but the stakes have grown considerably higher as the practical and material consequences of the indigene-settler divide have become more important in Nigeria as a whole.

Only the Itsekiri have been successful in asserting their claim to be the true indigenes of Warri.  All three of Warri’s Local Government Areas are run by predominantly Itsekiri administrations and Warri’s representative in the federal National Assembly is also an Itsekiri, a fact that the town’s Urhobo and Ijaw residents believe has resulted in the economic and political marginalization of their communities.  The fraudulent nature of past elections in Delta State does nothing to encourage these dissatisfied groups to accept the status quo, and in fact they have never accepted it.  Politics in Warri has revolved around an interminable disagreement about power-sharing in the three metropolitan LGAs and about whether and how new local governments should be created to allow greater Urhobo and Ijaw representation.181

Since 1997 Warri’s “ownership” controversy has given rise to a series of intercommunal clashes that have claimed hundreds of lives.  In 1997 hundreds of people were killed in clashes sparked by the creation of a new LGA, Warri Southwest; the location of its headquarters, and the swearing-in of local officials to that LGA administration, helped spark renewed fighting in 1999.  In the last large-scale outbreak of violence, in 2003, several hundred people were killed over the course of several months in clashes triggered initially by a dispute over the delineation of electoral wards in Warri.182  At the time of Human Rights Watch’s last visit to Warri in December 2005, a fragile peace was in place, but many community and youth leaders on all sides felt that it could not be expected to hold unless the issue of ownership was resolved to their group’s satisfaction. 

Indigeneity and intercommunal conflict in Warri

The dispute over Warri’s rightful “ownership” is not merely a symbolic one; in large measure it is a struggle for control over scarce economic resources.  Very little of the considerable wealth generated by the oil industry in and around Warri has trickled down to the ordinary citizens of the town, and Warri’s three LGAs are widely seen as conduits for much of the government largesse that does find its way back to the community.  Human Rights Watch interviewed several individuals on all three sides of the dispute who had either participated in or helped to organize some of the communities’ attacks upon one another during the 2003 unrest.  All of them said that they had been fighting because they believed that their communities would inevitably be marginalized and impoverished unless they were given control over one or more of Warri’s three local government areas.  One Urhobo community leader went so far as to say that the communities’ seemingly arcane dispute over the delineation of electoral wards in Warri is “as important as life itself.”183

All three of Warri’s local government areas are under predominantly Itsekiri administrations. The Urhobo and Ijaw youth leaders interviewed by Human Rights Watch were unanimous in their belief that these local governments systematically exclude their communities from access to jobs, educational opportunities, and even basic government services, choosing instead to lavish all of their resources upon ethnic Itsekiri.  One relatively well-off young Ijaw militant complained that “almost every trip I make [to the market] I see one or two young [Ijaw] men approach me for financial help.  You can see the poverty on their faces.  You can hardly see an Itsekiri in such a situation because of the marvelous opportunities they have.”  He then went on to ask rhetorically, “Why not fight it out instead of remaining slavish to this condition?”184 

Urhobo community leaders described the situation in equally dramatic terms.  One Urhobo chief, for example, asserted that “[i]f the Itsekiri own this place we become slaves on our own land… People feel marginalized.  And so you go and pick up a gun just to show them that you are alive.”185  One Urhobo youth leader who said that he fought as an Urhobo “soldier” during the 2003 crisis told Human Rights Watch that “the only thing that will not bring another crisis to this area is the addition of a separate local government area for our people.”  Unless this comes to pass, he said, “[t]he future holds nothing for us.”186

In part, these complaints reflect grossly exaggerated notions of the resources local government administrations have at their disposal and of the extent to which Warri’s Itsekiri population is materially better off because of their political position.  But Warri’s local governments are financially better off than most because they claim a share of oil revenues produced within their jurisdiction. 187  Being in a position of power also makes it easier to deal with and obtain money—through contracts, compensation or outright extortion—from the oil companies operating around Warri.  As one Urhobo community leader acknowledged, a primary reason inter-ethnic relations have become as acrimonious as they are is that, “[a]t the end of the day, everyone wants a share of the oil.”188  And like everywhere else in Nigeria, residents of Warri must pass through their local governments in order to have a chance at competing for many employment and educational opportunities at the state and federal level.   

On the other side of the divide, Itsekiri leaders do not deny that they have long enjoyed a position of political privilege in Warri.  But nationally the Itsekiri are far fewer in number than the Urhobo and especially the Ijaw;189 Warri is in fact the only place in Nigeria where the Itsekiri are numerous enough to constitute a serious political force.  “Other groups have other land, but we have no other place,” one Itsekiri woman explained, and went on to say that even in Warri “we are in danger of being overrun.”190 

One thing that all three sides of Warri’s “ownership” debate share is the assumption that whichever group has control of Warri’s local governments will use their resources for the exclusive benefit of their own people.  One Urhobo man, asked by Human Rights Watch to explain why he could not accept living under an Itsekiri-run local government, gave voice to an assumption common throughout Nigeria by answering simply, “Winner takes all is the name of the game in Nigeria.”191

The fact that this high-stakes political contest has been driven towards violence is in large measure a reflection of the lack of faith in the democratic process that is shared by all sides.  The 2003 elections in Delta State were tainted by widespread fraud, and many Ijaw and Urhobo simply do not believe that they would ever be permitted to win control over any of Warri’s local governments in a free and fair election.  As is true of other parts of Nigeria, these assumptions are lent legitimacy and force by the increasingly widespread notion that only the indigenes of any given place have the right to hold political power.

None of the Itsekiri community leaders interviewed by Human Rights Watch believed that it would be acceptable for a non-Itsekiri administration to take control of one of “their” local governments through a free and fair election.  A spokesperson for a group known as the Itsekiri National Youth Council, for example, stated categorically that all political power in Warri should remain in Itsekiri hands and that all of the jobs and educational opportunities open to citizens of Warri should “go to the indigenes.” The Ijaw and Urhobo, he said, “feel that the Itsekiri are too small a tribe to dictate the pace of their economic progress.  But we are the owners of this place.  So it should be up to us to decide what share of the economic resources of this place the other groups should get.”192  Another prominent Itsekiri acknowledged that it would be unfair to exclude the Urhobo and Ijaw from the benefits of government altogether but cautioned that “[a]lthough we are willing to share, there is a limit.”193

The president of the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) angrily denounced these sentiments, arguing that “the constitution has no place for this idea that you have to be the owner of a place before you have the right to participate in its administration.  The democracy we practice today has no place for this idea.”194  This seemingly progressive thinking, however, is dismissed by Itsekiri leaders as nothing more than a transparent attempt to use the Ijaw’s demographic muscle to usurp power for themselves.  Without any real possibility for real democratic change and with no way to assure the losers of any political contest that they would not be openly marginalized and discriminated against, the situation in Warri remains at a tense impasse that, in the absence of clear national leadership, there is no clear way to resolve.

[108] Some estimates indicate that the Middle Belt region may be home to more than two hundred separate languages and peoples.

[109] This is the official state motto.

[110] See above, Section IV, The Development of Nigerian Federalism.

[111] Benue-Plateau state was created in Nigeria’s first round of state creation in 1967, and was split into two separate states, Benue and Plateau, in 1976.

[112] Nigeria conducted a national census in March 2006, and as of this writing results have not been made publicly available. In any event the census questionnaires made no reference to ethnicity or religion, in an effort to avoid controversy and violence.

[113] Human Rights Watch interviews, Jos, November 2005.

[114] See above, Section V.

[115] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 18, 2005.

[116] Human Rights Watch interview, November 23, 2005.

[117] Human Rights Watch, “Revenge in the Name of Religion,” p. 11.

[118] Human Rights Watch interview, Shendam, November 24, 2005.

[119] Ibid.

[120] Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, November 24, 2005.

[121] Documents on file with Human Rights Watch.

[122] Faculty members at the University of Jos confirmed in interviews with Human Rights Watch that no student could register at the university without producing a certificate of indigeneity from a local government area somewhere in Nigeria.  Human Rights Watch interviews, Jos, November 2005.

[123] Human Rights Watch interview, November 24, 2005.

[124] Ibid.

[125] Human Rights Watch interview, Yelwa, November 24, 2005.

[126] Human Rights Watch interviews, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[127] A person’s “local government of origin” is the LGA of which they are an indigene.

[128] Human Rights Watch interviews, Jos, November 23-24, 2005.

[129] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[130] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 21, 2005.

[131] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[132] “Hausa/Fulani Have No Claim to Land in Plateau,” Tell (Lagos), May 31, 2004, p. 22.

[133] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[134] Human Rights Watch, “Revenge in the Name of Religion,” p. 6.

[135] Human Rights Watch, “Jos: A City Torn Apart,” A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 13, no.9(A), December 2001.

[136] Eyewitnesses to the violence described the attackers as including Tarok, Gamai, Montol, Angas, Kwalla, Birom, Sayawa, and Jukun.  See Human Rights Watch,“Revenge in the Name of Religion,”p. 20.

[137] Human Rights Watch,“Revenge in the Name of Religion.”

[138] Accurate population figures for Plateau state do not exist.  It is generally acknowledged, however, that Plateau state has a majority Christian population with a large Muslim minority.

[139] Solomon Lar, the Governor of Plateau State from 1979 to 1983, is generally considered to be the intellectual founder of emancipation policy.  For a more detailed discussion, see Ezekiel Major Adeyi, Politics of Emancipation: The Struggles of Solomon Daushep Lar (Jos, 1997).

[140] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 21, 2005.

[141] See, for example,“Hausa/Fulani Have No Claim to Land in Plateau,” Tell (Lagos), May 31, 2004, p. 22.

[142] Saturday Champion, March 20, 2004, p. 9.

[143] Human Rights Watch, “Revenge in the Name of Religion,” p. 40.

[144] Plateau Resolves: Report of the Plateau Peace Conference 2004 (Jos: Plateau State of Nigeria Gazette, November 2004).

[145] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Relations, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[146] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 21, 2005.  The report stated that “indigenes are not to discriminate against other Nigerian citizens, but should embrace them.”  Document on file with Human Rights Watch.

[147] Kaduna town was founded by the British in 1913, and was the capital of Nigeria’s Northern Region until the region was broken apart into several states in 1967.

[148] Prior to colonialism, the peoples of what is now southern Kaduna were regularly subjected to slave raids by forces under the control of the powerful Emirate of Zazzau.  Under British rule many southern minority leaders felt that the situation actually became worse, as the British placed many areas of what is now southern Kaduna under the direct control of the Emir for the first time.

[149] See, for example,Akin Akinteye, James Wuye and Muhammen Ashafa, “Zangon-Kataf Crisis: A Case Study”, in Community Conflicts in Nigeria: Management, Resolution and Transformation (London: Spectrum, 1999), pp. 227-228.

[150] The immediate trigger for the violence was actually an article published in the Lagos-based This Day newspaper which suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would approve of the pageant because he would probably have chosen a wife from among the contestants.  The article was widely seen as blasphemous by Nigerian Muslims.  For a more complete discussion of the riots and the events surrounding them, see Human Rights Watch, “The ‘Miss World Riots’: Continued Impunity for Killings in Kaduna,” A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 15, no. 13(A), July 2003.

[151] Kaduna’s Igbo community is resented by some members of other groups who see it as holding too much commercial power and wealth, and many Igbo shops and business were attacked and looted during the 2000 and 2002 clashes.

[152] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 2, 2005.

[153] See above, Section V.

[154] Human Rights Watch interview with Joseph John Hayab, Kaduna, November 10, 2005.

[155] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 14, 2005.

[156] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 11, 2005.

[157] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 12, 2005.

[158] Human Rights Watch interview with Abokie Galadima, Kaduna, November 11, 2005.

[159] Human Rights Watch interview with James Wuye, Kaduna, November 9, 2005.

[160] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 10, 2005.

[161] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 11, 2005.

[162] The Atyap are also referred to as the Kataf.

[163] See, for example, Akinteye et. al, “Zangon-Kataf Crisis,” p. 225.  As a result of this long-running dispute over indigeneity in Zangon-Kataf, even the proper name of the community referred to here as Zangon-Kataf, along with the etymological roots of that name, has become a subject of controversy.  Human Rights Watch interviews, Kaduna, November 2005.

[164] SeeToure Kazah Toure, Ethno-Religious Conflicts in Kaduna State (Kaduna: Human Rights Monitor, 2003), pp. 160.

[165] SeeAkinteye et. al, “Zangon-Kataf Crisis,” p. 226-228.  Among other grievances, Kataf people complained of unfair tax burdens, Kataf women being forced to sweep the market square by Hausa officials, and the Emir’s onerous demands of annual tribute.  Ibid.

[166] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 9, 2005.

[167] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[168] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[169] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[170] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[171] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[172] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[173] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[174] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[175] Human Rights Watch interview, Zangon-Kataf, November 16, 2005.

[176] Only Rivers and Bayelsa States receive larger monthly allocations from the federal treasury.  These statistics are published regularly by the federal Ministry of Finance and are available online at

[177] Human Rights Watch, “The Warri Crisis: Fueling Violence,” A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 15, no. 18(A), November 2003.

[178] The term “youth” in Nigeria has a more expansive meaning than is common elsewhere, and can include men who are well into their thirties.

[179] SeeHuman Rights Watch, “The Warri Crisis,” and “Rivers and Blood: Guns, Oil and Power in Nigeria’s Rivers State,” A Human Rights Watch Background Briefing, February 2005. In the first quarter of 2006, violence and tension in Delta state increased sharply with the emergence of a previously unknown ethnic Ijaw militant group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).  MEND has carried out a series of armed attacks on oil installations and kidnapped several foreign oil workers, demanding among other things that the federal government release disgraced former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and militia leader Dokubo Asari, both prominent symbols of militant Ijaw politics currently facing trial in federal court. 

[180] See, for example,Urhobo Progress Union, “Re: Warri Crisis: Panacea for Lasting Peace in Warri,” November 2003; and “Memo Presented by the Ijaws of Warri for the Peaceful Resolution of the Lingering Warri Ethnic Crisis,” November 2003.  Documents on file with Human Rights Watch.

[181] For more discussion on Warri’s ownership debate and its historical context, see Human Rights Watch, “The Warri Crisis.”

[182] Ibid.

[183] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 2, 2005.

[184] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 3, 2005.

[185] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 2, 2005.

[186] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 5, 2005.

[187] For a detailed explanation of the workings of the federal allocation account, see Suberu, Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria, pp. 49-57.

[188] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 5, 2005.

[189] The Itsekiri are a comparatively small ethnic group that enjoys little demographic significance outside of Warri.  The Ijaw, by contrast, are widely believed to be Nigeria’s fourth-largest ethnic group and may number in excess of ten million.

[190] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 5, 2005.

[191] Human Rights Watch interview, Warri, December 2, 2005.

[192] Human Rights Watch interview, December 4, 2005.

[193] Human Rights Watch interview, December 5, 2005.

[194] Human Rights Watch interview, December 3, 2005.

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