Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Jason J. Campbell

Second Advisor

Claire M. Rice

Third Advisor

Dustin B. Berna


This dissertation explores the ethnic and religious dimensions of the northern Nigeria conflict in which gruesome killings have intermittently occurred, to determine whether there are genocidal inclinations to the episodic killings. The literature review provides the contextual framework for examining the conflict parties and causation factors to address the research questions: Are there genocidal inclinations to the ethno-religious conflict in northern Nigeria? To what extent does the interplay between ethnicity and religion help to foment and escalate the conflict in northern Nigeria? The study employs a mixed content analysis and grounded theory methodology based on the Strauss and Corbin (1990) approach. Data sourcing was from 197 newspaper articles on the conflict over the study period spanning from the 1966 northern Nigeria massacres of thousands of Ibos up to present, ongoing killings between Muslims and Christians or non-Muslims in the region. Available texts of the conflict cases over the research period were content-analyzed using Nvivo qualitative data analysis software involving processes of categorizing, coding and evaluation of the textual themes. The study structures a theoretical model for determining proclivity to genocide, and finds that there are genocidal inclinations to the northern Nigeria conflict, involving the specific intent to ‘cleanse’ the north through the exclusionary ideology of imposition of the Sharia law through enforced assimilation or extermination of Christians and other non-Muslims who do not assimilate or adopt the Muslim ideology. The study also suggests that there is latency in the recognition of these genocidal manifestations due to their episodic nature and intermittency of occurrence. he study provides further understanding of factors underlying and sustaining the violent conflict between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria. It contributes new perspectives and theoretical model for determining genocidal proclivity to the field of conflict analysis and resolution, and proffers alternative strategies for relationship building and peaceful coexistence among different religious groups. The findings will guide recommendations on policy formulations for eliminating religious intolerance in northern Nigeria. The study creates further awareness on the need for global intervention on the region’s sporadic killings to avert full blown Rwandan type genocide in Nigeria.

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