Re-defining Nigeria's Value


Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues




October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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Table of Contents


Introduction…………………………………………………………...Page    1

Willink’s Report ……………………………………………………………….3


Terms of Reference  I………………………………………………………….4

Comparison between 1966 & 1999 Constitutions on Human Rights   …...6

Citizenship ……………………………………………………………………7

Compulsory Acquisition of Land……………………………………………..8

Nigerian Land Law…………………………………………………………10


Terms of Reference II  …………………………………………………….12

Federal Character ………………………………………………………..12

Political Objectives ………………………………………………………....12

Community Conflict ………………………………………………………..14

Constitutional Provisions on Citizenship ………………………………..14 

Indigeneship ……………………………………………………………..15

Conflict Jukun – Tiv …………………………………………………….15

Land as a Symbol of Prestige   ……………………………………...16

Ife – Modakeke ……………………………………………………….16

Ethnic & Religious Conflicts in Kano ………………………………...17

Inter Religious Conflict ……………………………………………....18

Value System ………………………………………………………19


Terms of Reference III …………………………………………...20

Constitution and Practical Application ……………………….....20          

Human Rights Provisions and Other Sections of the Constitution …...21    

Reasons for Human Rights ……………………………………………...21    

Proviso to Section 147 ……………………………………….22                                                                                                                                                                      

Terms of Reference IV ………………………………………...23

Role of various Authorities………………………………………..23



Terms of Reference V ……………………………………………23

Nation Unity and Colonialism…….... ……………………………..23

Subsidiarity ………………………………………………………..24

Sharia ………………………………………………………………26

Egypt            ………………………………………………………...26

Sultan to NIREC …………………………………………………..27

National Conference  ……………………………………………...28

Ethnic Religion & Political Violence ……………………………28

Sharia & Secular Nation ………………………………………...29

Summary ………………………………………………………...29

Conclusion ………………………………………………………30












In the advertorial in various newspapers in January 2002, by the Presidential Committee calling for memoranda from the public, the publications referred to “recent events in the country” without giving details of these events. We were left to assume what these events were. The publication then went further to say that the “events indicate that gaps exist between the constitutional provisions of Citizenship and Rights and their Practices.” We, of the CSMN, believe that narrowing the other issues of ethnic, political and religious disturbances to those of citizen rights, government may not be willing or, considers it inexpedient in the meantime, to address the real issues. We have however, in this memorandum considered the question of citizenship and human rights in some detail and we have also considered other issues relevant for the peaceful co-existence of various ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria.

Willink’s Report


Sir Henry Willink in “The Report of the commission appointed to enquire into the fears of minorities and means of allaying them said, “Many witnesses have referred to their fears of Fulani-Hausa domination, and though the meaning of this phrase was not always expressed in terms, or even consciously analyzed by those who used it, it clearly implies a system of rule and of society of which an important ingredient is the operation of Muslim Law. Some witnesses have specifically referred to this system of law as an object of fear.” (1) [Emphasis ours]…“Northern Nigeria is peculiar in that there are at work side by side three distinguishably different systems of law; in the first place, Nigerian law based on the Common Law of England as modified by Nigerian and British Statute; Native Law other than Muslim Law; and finally Muslim Law, which, in turn, is divided into the strictly Koranic Law known as Shari’a and the law arising from the prerogative of ruler, which is known as Siyasa. To enquire into the relationship between these different systems in any detail would be a task for a special Commission; neither our terms of reference nor the time available to us would permit such an examination, even if we were competent to undertake it. But some consideration must be given to the nature of these fears regarding the law which are felt by minorities.” (2) [Emphasis supplied]


Rather than constitute judicial commissions of inquiry to enquire into each of these “events”, a committee without legal powers has been constituted to conduct flying visits to the areas where these events took place and submit report. We, of the CSMN, hope that the work of this committee is a precursor to a National Conference or National Dialogue.


Terms of Reference 1


“Examine the intent and implications of the Constitutional Provisions on citizenship and Fundamental Rights and limitations on their application”


Human Rights

It is pertinent however to say that in the same Willink’s report, it was shown quite clearly that the Christians asked that the Human Rights Provision, be inserted into the Nigerian Constitution to allay the fears of minority tribes or nationalities.  The report said

“Although almost all the witnesses who came before us were insistent that nothing but a separate state could meet their problems, one group asked only for provision in the Constitution guaranteeing certain fundamental rights. These were the Christian bodies who appeared before us both in Lagos, on behalf of their organizations throughout Nigeria, and, again, in the Northern Region.”(3) 

The report went on to say;

“Provisions of this kind in the Constitution are difficult to enforce and sometimes difficult to interpret. Nevertheless, we think they should be inserted. Their presence defines beliefs widespread among democratic countries and provides a standard to which appeal may be made by those whose rights are infringed. A Government determined to abandon democratic courses will find ways of violating them but they are of great value in preventing a steady deterioration in the standards of freedom and the unobtrusive encroachment of a Government on individual rights. We have therefore considered what provisions might suitably be inserted in the Constitution and have given particular attention to the Convention on Human Rights to which, we understand, Her Majesty’s Government has adhered on behalf of the Nigerian Government. Where the matter which we think, needs expression, has already been provided for in the Convention on Human Rights, we simply place below the relevant provision in that Convention, but we do not necessarily recommend the exact wording of the Convention and it may be that constitutional lawyers will wish to draft in different terms.” (4) 




The Willink Commission thereafter made the following recommendations:


Group A. Life and Liberty

Right to life

Inhuman Treatment

Slavery or Forced Labour


Private and Family Life



Group B. Administration of Justice

Judicial Procedure

Retrospective Effect


Group C. Social Freedom

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Freedom of Movement

The Right to Marry


Group D. Rights concerning Religion

            Freedom of Religion

Religious Education

It must be pointed out that what Christians wanted with respect to Rights concerning Religion and which was placed before Willink’s were as follows:

(a)            “freedom to hold and express freely, any religious convictions or other beliefs and to publish them by any means not contrary to public order;

(b)            freedom to assemble peacefully for worship and courteous proclamation of a  religion or belief;

(c)             freedom to sell and distribute literature which advances the teaching of any religion or belief, provided that it is expressed with courtesy to other religions or beliefs;

(d)            freedom to change one’s religion or belief;

(e)            freedom to have one’s children educated when possible in a religion of one’s own choice or, if that is impossible, in no other;

(f)            freedom to conduct the affairs of one’s religion or belief without state interference.”


Group E. Discrimination


            The enjoyment of Fundamental Rights without Discrimination.

            Protection against Discrimination.

            Enforcement of Fundamental Right.


State and Citizenship


Social Scientists define State as “an entity” which is: -

(a)            endowed with political sovereignty over a clearly defined territorial area.

(b)            having sovereignty on the use of legitimate force, and

(c )            consisting of citizens with terminal loyalty.

Similarly, the notion of citizenship, i.e. membership of a State with the full political rights, is a phenomenon of  20th century Europe. It was only in 1919,


after the First World War, that citizenship was accepted in principle in Europe and it became a ‘Sacred’ right everywhere in Europe as recently as the 1940s. (5)


Black’s Judicial Dictionary defines citizen as “A person who, either by birth or naturization, is a member of a political community, owing allegiance to the community and being entitled to enjoy all the civil rights and protection; a member of the civil state entitled to all its privileges”. .

Allegiance is defined in the same dictionary as “a citizen’s obligation of fidelity and obedience to the government or sovereign in return for the benefits of the protection of the state”.



Comparison between 1960 and 1999 Constitutions on Human Rights.


Since the Fundamental Rights were entrenched in the 1960 Constitution and re-enacted in 1963, 1979 and 1999 Constitutions, these provisions have been enlarged and/or curtailed in several areas.

(i)        The Rights concerning inhuman treatment, slavery and forced labour in the 1960 Constitution are now provided for under the Right to dignity of the human person under section 34 of the 1999 Constitution.  We are of the view that this provision is being breached by all Sharia States that provide for amputation, stoning etc. as these punishments constitute degrading treatment. We are further of the view that flogging also constitute degrading treatment in present day and age.


(ii)       The Section dealing with Right of Personal Liberty has been enlarged. Determination of rights under the 1960 Constitution is now Right to fair hearing in the 1999 Constitution.

(iii)     Right to private life has been enlarged in the 1999 Constitution to include “telephone conversations and telegraphic communications”.

(iv)            Freedom of Conscience under the 1960 Constitution is now the Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, remain largely the same under the 1999 Constitution.  The same applies to Freedom of expression and the Press.

It is however with respect of right to peaceful assembly and association that there is a marked difference.

(v)            Section 20 of the 1960 Constitution provides that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons and, in particular, he may form or belong to Trade unions and other associations for the protection of his interest”… The 1999 Constitution included political party in this Section as the type of association that the individual can form and join.

It is however the proviso in the 1999 Constitution which replaced Sub Section 3 of the 1960 Constitution that has altered completely the intent of the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association.

Section 25(2) of the 1960 Constitution provides as follows:

“Nothing in this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society –


(a)       in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;

            (b)            for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons; or

(c)       imposing restrictions upon persons holding office under the Crown, members of the Armed forces of the Crown or members of a Police force”. 


While the proviso to Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution which replaced Sub Section (2) of Section 25 of the 1960 Constitution provides as follows:

“Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by this Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to political parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition”.


It is clear that the reason for Fundamental Rights which is intended to protect the minorities has been defeated when it is left to an Executive body [INEC] to decide the limits, method and scope of Political Associations. In practical terms, making it impossible for minorities to be masters of their own affairs, and for the larger and wealthier and more powerful groups to dominate, marginalize, and even enslave minorities.


(vi)      With respect to Freedom of Movement, Section 26 of 1960 has been modified and unnecessary restrictions removed by Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution with a special proviso provided for reciprocal agreement. Thus the 1999 provision is an improvement on Section 26 of the 1960 Constitution.


(vii)            Notwithstanding Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution, on freedom of movement,  – some Nigerians are not free to reside in some parts of the country especially where there are discriminatory laws, and whether or not they will be affected, is not the issue.


(viii)    On Freedom from discrimination Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution which provides that  “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person” be disadvantaged – by any law or executive or administrative action, or provided with privilege or advantage not enjoyed by others. “No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.” This renders all Sharia laws in Nigeria unconstitutional in that they discriminate against other Nigerians who are not Muslims.

(ix)      The 1999 Constitution provides under Section 43 right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.  It states “subject to the provisions of this Constitution every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property any where in Nigeria…” The practical application of this Section, is where the difficulty lies. Certificates of occupancy, are not granted to some Nigerians in certain parts of the country.


(x)            Citizenship

The 1979 Constitution as well as the 1999 Constitution recognizes only one class of Nigerian, namely citizens of Nigeria of whom there are the following categories – Citizen by birth, by registration and by naturalization.

However, descent from a Nigerian Parent carries a greater importance than birth within the country. “In general a citizen of Nigeria enjoys full legal capacity, which entitles him to all the rights and privileges bestowed by the law. (Disabilities or special privileges may however be imposed or conferred on the grounds of infancy, sex, insanity, bankruptcy etc.).  The citizen is entitled to the protection of the state both within and without its territory.”

“A non-citizen, on the other hand, is entitled to protection only while he is within the country but not outside it, and his duty of obedience is also correspondingly limited”…

“A non-citizen does not have within Nigeria the full rights of a citizen. He is subject to disability in various respects. He can neither exercise the franchise nor be a candidate for any elective office”

It is pertinent to point out that, in some cases, a citizen is treated as an alien, who cannot be a candidate for an election, because he does not belong to a political party. A citizen can vote but cannot be voted for unless he belongs to a political party.



(xi)          Compulsory acquisition of land

The compulsory acquisition of land as per Section 44(1) sub section (3) of this Section would appear to have destroyed the fundamental right to own land under Section 43 when it provides that:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in, under or upon any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria shall vest in the Government of the Federation and shall be managed in such a manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”


So also is the Land Use Act whose preamble provides for “ An Act to vest all land comprised in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal Government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and to organizations for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes while powers with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on Local Government”.

Here, the government has taken all land and minerals throughout Nigeria without paying compensation.


Section 1 of the Act provides as follows:

“Subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”

While Section 315(5) of the 1999 Constitution provides as follows: “Nothing in this Constitution shall invalidate the following enactments, that is to say-

(a)            ………………………………………………

(b)            ……………………………………………….

(c)            ………………………………………………..

(d)       the Land Use Act;

and the provisions of these enactment’s shall continue to apply and of full effect in accordance with their tenor and to the like extent as any other provisions forming part of this Constitution and shall not be altered or repealed except in accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (2) of this Constitution.”

Without prejudice to subsection (5) of this Section, the enactments mentioned in the said subsection shall hereafter continue to have effect as Federal enactments and as if they relate to matters included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.”


On the Land Use Act, Prof. Nwabueze provided one possibility as to intent and purpose of the Act. He said: “The Act seems to have been intended as a socialist measure, as a charter for the common man, a charter of egalitarianism and of social justice. It is said that because land is the primary means of production in an agricultural community, its ownership should be vested in the state to enable it to be controlled for the common benefit of all. With the control conferred by ownership, state can try to achieve certain socialist objectives with respect to land – greater social justice in the distribution of the land itself and the income from it, control of land speculation and absentee landlordism with all its exploitative tendencies, and a more productive use of land. It is easy to see also that to require compensation to be adequate would greatly inhibit any socialist programme of nationalization of the means of production and distribution.” (6)


The CSMN provides another possibility and that is, that the Land Use Act of 1978 is one of the gradual Islamization processes of Nigeria. It all began with the Northern System of Land tenure by which all the land, was vested in the government, which was and is still controlled by “a system of rule and of society of which an important ingredient is the operation of Muslim Law.” This was what was known as the Northern System and this system was extended to the South in 1978 during the Obasanjo’s first coming in continuation of Murtala Muhammed’s subtle Islamization of Nigeria.


CSMN is of the very strong view, that depriving the ethnic groups of Nigeria their rights to ownership of land is responsible for upsetting the whole social organization that constitute the Social framework of Nigeria.

The Land tenure of Southern Nigeria differed widely from those of the North. This is evident in Lugard’s report on Minerals. Part of the report reads: “The imposition of a nominal surface rent [1d to 3d an acre] became a necessity when the ordinance was made applicable to the Southern Provinces, where the system of land tenure differs widely from the North.” (7)

The 1999 Constitution radically limited the guarantee of property rights, with the incorporation into the Constitution of the Land Use Act, which began, with the 1979 Constitution. The Land Use Act of 1978 abolished all private ownership of land and transferred it to the State, free from any obligation to pay compensation.

Most of the ethnic disturbances in the country, have some relationship with ownership of land.  Although these natives are unaware of the Land Use Act, and even if they are, they do not regard the Act as binding, they draw the distinctions between “indigene” “settler” “host” community” and “native” etc based on ownership of land.  CSMN reasons that if the Government were to tell the people, that they are all settlers as all the land have been taken over by the Government and therefore there is no Land to fight for, perhaps that would help.  Government however knows that taking over the people’s land in the manner it did, is wrong.  The Land Use Act is another form of colonialism, this time not by Europeans but by Nigerians.


Nigerian Land Law


Northern Land Law the basis of the Report of the Northern Nigeria Land Committee, the Land and Native Rights Act No. 1 of 1916, as modified by Act No. 18 of 1918, was enacted. Section 3 and 4 provided as follows:

No. 2 of 1916; now cap. 86 of the Laws of Nigeria (1923), Vol. 1

A. F. Calvert, Nigeria and its Tin Fields, London 1912, states: “Because of the transfer of the mining rights under the Royal Niger Company’s concessions to the Government, the natives were debarred from further mining of tin which, according to the Northern Nigeria Lands Committee, they were in the habit of mining from time immemorial.” See Historical Introduction, Chapter 1, supra.


For an able criticism of this claim to ultimate title by the Crown, see L. P. Mair,

An African People in the Twentieth Century by L.P. Mair, (1936), See p. 133.

The term “native land” had been adopted from para. 6 of the Conclusions to Sir P. Girouard’s Memoranda (p. 27), which paragraph reads as follows: “If land were nationalized, and alienation in fee simply made impossible, they would, for the time being, be best described, in my opinion, as ‘native lands,’ the description ‘national lands,’ would  include the land requirements of their government, there would appear to be no necessity for the term crown lands.”

All native lands, and all rights over the same, are hereby declared to be under the control and subject to the disposition of the Governor, and shall be held and administered for the use and common benefit of the natives of Northern Nigeria, and no title to the occupation and use of any such lands shall be valid without the consent of the Governor.

“The Governor, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by this proclamation with respect to any land, shall have regard to the native laws and customs existing in the district in which such land is situated” Later section further provided, inter alia, for the Governor’s power:

(a)               to grant rights of occupancy to “natives” as well as to “non natives”

(b)              to demand and revise rents for such grants;

(c)              to render null and void any attempted alienation by an occupier of his right of occupancy without the Governor’s consent.

(d)              To revoke the grants to occupiers for “good cause” shown.

The principles of this legislation were trenchantly criticized by Lord Lugard in his Dual Mandate on the following main grounds;


(1)       That land in the Northern Region of Nigeria could not properly be described, as in the Act, as “native lands” where:


(a)              the Governor’s consent was necessary to the validity of the native occupier’s title;

(b)              the Governor had the right to demand rents, to nullify all attempted alienations by occupiers, and, above all, revoke the grant at will.

(2)       That these absolute powers given to the Governor by this legislation were in the nature of  “expropriation” since they were inconsistent with the fundamental principle that conquest or cession should not affect private property.” [Emphasis supplied]


Despite these criticisms, the Land and Native Rights Act 1916 (with later amendments) was repealed and replaced by the Land Tenure Law 1962, which now governs the tenure of land in the six states in Northern Nigeria. It has reproduced most of the features of its predecessor. Thus, it declares that all lands in each of the states in Northern Nigeria, whether occupied or unoccupied, are “native lands” Under Section 5, they are placed under the control, and are subject to the disposition of the Minister responsible for land matters, who holds and administers them for the use and common benefits of the “natives”. That is to say, persons whose fathers were members of any tribe indigenous to each state are “non natives”. No title to the occupation and use of any such lands by a non-native is valid without the Minister’s consent.” (8)  This law now applies throughout the country and we are regarded as non-natives.  What an injustice.



1.         Report of the commission appointed to enquire into the fears of minorities and the means of allaying them. Page 66.


2.         ditto Page 66

3.         ditto    ,,    97

4            ,,        ,,   97

5          Race ethnicity and nation international perspectives on social conflict edited by Peter Ratchiffe Page 26.

6          The Presidential Constitution of Nigeria by B.O. Nwabueze Page 525.

7.         Lugard and the Amalgamation of Nigeria, A documentary Record, by A.H.M. kirk-Greene Page 107

8            Nigerian Land Law and Custom by T.O. Elias Page 5.  






Terms of Reference II


Identify sources of conflict between the Constitutional Provisions on citizenship and Rights and issue of “indigeneship”, “settler”, “host community” and “native” etc.


Federal Character

Under Chapter II Fundamental Objectives and Direct Principle of State Policy, Section 14 provides as follows:

14. (1)            “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice.


      (2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that –

sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; 

the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and;

the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.


     (3)  “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”…

While section 318 defines Federal Character as “federal character of Nigeria refers to the distinctive desire of the peoples of Nigeria to promote national unity, foster national loyalty and give every citizen of Nigeria a sense of belonging to the nation as expressed in section 14(3) and (4) of this Constitution;” This is not a definition but an explanation. In any case Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution is not justiciable.


CSMN is convinced that the application of Federal Character provision cannot be said to promote National unity, in that it favours the three major ethnic nationalities with not less than five states each and therefore with five portions while twenty-seven ethnic groups in say Cross River are all struggling for one portion.

This injustice becomes more potent, when all ethnic groups have to look up to the center – Federal Government for sustenance through revenue allocation, which grants only Seven per cent  (7%) to where this revenue is derived.

CSMN is of the view, that we must adopt the principle of subsidiarity, where the finances and functions of the States and Communities are distributed evenly, and not a centralized administration. We wonder whether it is Constitutional to have a commission [Federal Character] to enforce unenforceable provisions of the Constitution.


            Political Objectives

The political objectives are contained in section 15 of the 1999 Constitution.

15  (1). The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and


      (2)Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.

      (3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to-

(a)       provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation;

(b)            secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation

(c )      encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and;

(d)       promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious or other sectional barriers.


     (4.) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and involvement among the various peoples of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties”…


Social Objectives    

While Section 17 deals with Social Objectives

17.(1.)“The State social order is founded on ideals of freedom, Equality and Justice.


     (2.)  In furtherance of the social order-

(a)       every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law;

(b)       the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced;

(c )            government actions shall be humane;

(d)       exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented; and

(e)       the independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and easy accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained.

     (3)  The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that -

(a)              all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment;

(b)              conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and suitable employment;

(c)              the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused;

(d)              there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons;

(e)              there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other ground whatever;

(f)               children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatever, and against moral and materials neglect;

(g)              provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or other conditions of need; and

(h)              the evolution and promotion of family life is encouraged”…


CSMN is of the view that no deliberate attempt is being made to promote these objectives by the Federal States or Local Governments.


Community conflict


Professor Onigu Otite in the book ‘Community Conflict in Nigeria’ wrote that “Conflicts arise from the pursuit of divergent interests, goals and aspirations by individuals and/ or groups in defined social and physical environments. Changes in the social environment, such as contestable access to new political positions, or perceptions as well as new resources arising from development in the physical environment, are fertile grounds for conflicts involving individuals and groups who are interested in using these new resources to achieve their goals. By thus recognizing the inherent nature of conflicts in heterogeneous and competitive situations, people, more or less compellingly, sustain their societies as ongoing social systems through the resolution, transformation and management of conflicts”. He gave reasons for conflict, which include “a struggle over values and claim to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponent are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals”. He went on to define Social Conflict “as a struggle over values or claims to status, power and scarce resources, in which the aims of the conflicting parties are not only to gain the desired values, but also to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals. Such conflicts may take place between individuals, between collectives, or between individuals and collectivities. Intergroup as well as intragroup conflicts are perennial features of social life” (1)


- Constitutional Provisions on Citizenship


It is pertinent to point out that Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution is devoted to citizenship.

Section 25 of that 1999 Constitution provides that:

 (1)      “The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth, namely-

(a)       every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belong or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria:

Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria;

(b)       every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and

(c )      every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria.

(2)       In this section, “the date of independence” means the 1st day of


October, 1960.


Section 26 deals with citizenship by registration, 27 citizenship by naturalization etc. up to Section 32, which deals with powers of the President to make regulations.






The statute of Indigeneship is referred to under Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution.


147  (1)“There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.

(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of Government of the Federation shall, if the   nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, made by the President.

(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:” …


                  “Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state and shall be indigene of such State.”

Unfortunately the word indigene is not defined under the Constitution. Its application however seems to give it a superior status than citizenship. It has compounded our problems in Nigeria, and is largely responsible for promoting disunity and derogates from the Constitution’s political and social objectives.

To make matters worse, it touches on the security of Nigeria where loyalty to the nation, not tribe would have been preferred.

Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution provides

217     (1) “There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.” 

(2)“The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly be made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of”-

(3) “The composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the Federal character of Nigeria”…

219     The National Assembly shall

(a)       in giving effect to the functions specified in section 217 of this Constitution; and

(b)       with respect to the powers exercisable by the President under section 218 of this Constitution,

by an Act, establish a body which shall comprise such members as the National Assembly may determine, and shall have power to ensure that the composition of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the Federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in the said section 217 of this Constitution”…

Federal character in the Army means domination of the armed forces by ethnic groups, based on States. A new formula must be found for sharing posts in the Armed Forces not Federal characters. This is because there are about 300 ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria. While the three major ethnic groups get about 15-20 places out of the 36, places over 200 other ethnic groups in the country get notice based on the Federal Character principle based on States.




Jukun – Tiv


There are two case studies - one from the North, the Junkun/Tiv conflict and the Ife/Modakeke conflicts. The two conflicts are comprehensively analyzed in the book ‘Community conflicts in Nigeria’ and, for our purpose, a few comments from this book will suffice.

On Tiv/Junkun, the book had this to say,

“The conflict being analyzed here was the prolonged dispute that the Junkun and Tiv communities in Taraba State had over land, traditional rulership, political authority and differences, and fears of domination and marginalization. This conflict burst out in 1990, and lasted for almost two years. It left an exceptionally high death toll and destruction of property. The carnage associated with the conflict was also probably unprecedented in the history of communal conflicts in Nigeria. The conflict completely changed the look and social profile of Wukari Local Government, and this may take a long time before it is rebuilt”... (2)


“The origins of the conflict between the Tiv and the Junkun were traced by a section of the Junkun, and nearly all Tiv interviewees, back to the introduction of party politics in Nigeria”...(3)


“What was evident from this historical review was the fact that political issues and the fight for political control of Wukari, as well as participation and representation of Wukari at the state level, always caused tension and conflict between the Tiv and the Junkun. There were deep fears of political marginalization. It was these fears, in the main, that translated into the conflicts that bedeviled the area”... (4)


“The argument was that the land served only as a vent for political and other forms of conflict. It was suggested that all forms of disagreement among the Tiv and Junkun found expression in farmlands. Most Junkuns insisted that conflict was about land, and other factors were secondary”... (5)

The ordinary Junkun & Tiv do not know about the Land Use Act, even if they knew, it would not have made a difference. Land is the soul of all African Society.


Land as a Symbol of Prestige


“Land has become a symbol of prestige for the Junkun. Like Kataf versus the Hausa/Fulani communities, like the Birom against the Hausa irrigation farmers in Jos, or the Tsayawa against the Hausa/Fulani in Tafawa Balewa, the supposedly aboriginal communities, often found themselves materially worse off than the so-called settler populations. Land was used as an instrument of political control and prestige. It was used to remind the settlers that they were only immigrants who lived at the pleasure of the indigenes. Traditionally, it did not matter how long these so-called settlers had settled in these lands. In conflict situation, land was an important factor. The Wukari conflict was an example of this”... (6)

CSMN wonders why this Committee should be chasing shadow called citizenship, when these are the real issues.




“The Ife-Modakeke crisis is one of the oldest intra-ethnic conflicts in Nigeria; it has been going on for more than a century and is still claiming lives. The inability of the successive regimes in Nigeria to find a long-lasting solution to the problem mirrors the extent of governance problems in the country. As issues connected with this sub-ethnic conflict are increasingly politicized, the problem is assuming more dangerous dimensions: the interests of the parties are becoming more complex, their unchanging positions more hardened and the response of the government more epileptic.  The problem is a typical example of an “unchanneled and undirected conflict” which Augsburger said is usually self-perpetuating and viciously cyclical in character.  The conflict, as it is, has been detached from its original causes to become its own self-energising cause.  It is a typical example of a  conflict that has “become its own raison de etre, it own self-empowered, self-fulfilling cycle”.


“The Modakekes saw the 1960 Nigerian independence as a challenge to change their modus operandi.  They therefore focused their attention, starting from 1957, on having their own local government council instead of asking for rights that they might never be granted under Ife-dominated local politics.  The leadership of the Action Group [AG] that controlled government in this part of Nigeria was however not supportive of the aspirations of the Modakekes.  It was therefore not surprising that in the April 17, 1958 edition of Daily Times, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Premier of Western Nigeria and leader of the A.G., told the Modakekes that he did not recognize them as having a separate town:


Ife Town was one town and the request for a separate local Government council for Modakeke amounted to an attempt to divide a single town.


This statement and the role that Chief Awolowo played as the solicitor to the Ifes in the various cases between them and the Modakekes, made the latter to regard the former Premier as a permanent enemy.”

The other issue that the Modakekes gave attention to in the post-colonial period was the Ishakole problem.  They considered it as an uncivilized taxation in a nation that claimed to be independent of colonial forces.  The Modakekes got a reprieve in 1978 when the federal government, led by General Olusegun Obasanjo, promulgated the Land Use Decree entrusting all land in the country to state governments on behalf of the federal government.  While localizing the implementation of the Decree in Western State, Governor David Jemibewon announced the cancellation of the Ishakole system.  This was a big relief to the Modakekes”… (8)


Ethnic and Religious Conflicts in Kano


“Kano, the most populated and industrialized city in northern Nigeria, is one of the hottest spots of ethnic and religious conflicts in Nigeria. The Problems can be easily explained within the context of immigrations into the city since its occupation by the British in 1903, especially by the Christian-dominated southern Nigerians. Before then, Kano was an important Islamic urban center in Western-Central Sudan playing active roles in pre-colonial trans-Saharan trade and also hosting many North African merchants and Islamic scholars. So much was the influence of the Muslim North Africans, and later of the Sokoto jihadists, on Kano that by the nineteenth century, it was a vibrant Islamic state with all the attributes of a typical Islamic city (Frishman 1986). With colonization by the British in 1903 came “modernization” or “westernization” which opened Kano to different kinds of culture change and forced it to shed some aspects of its former self as an Islamic city. Some of the immigrants into Kano at this time were southern Nigerians who introduced Christianity to the city and now control sizable proportion of the city’s informal economy. The practice of Islam also experienced dramatic changes as different sets of Islamic movements in the colonial and post-colonial periods. All these have major sources of conflicts.


“The cultural difference between the Kanawa and their southern Nigerian “guest” was worrisome to the British colonial official. To reduce the contracts between the two groups a segregated settlement named sabon gari [pl. sabon garuruwa] had to be established for these southern Nigerian immigrants around 1911, and their Hausa-Fulani hosts were restricted to the old walled city [Birni]. The sabon gari in Kano was the first of such modern migrant settlements to be established at about the same time in Zaria and Kaduna to serve a similar purpose. In 1914, the first sabon gari in the southern Nigeria was established in Ibadan [Albert 1993b].

The residential segregation between the Kanawa and the southern Nigerian Christians was strictly enforced in Kano: the Southerners were segregated from their Kanawa hosts physically and the segregation also had political and legal dimensions. Whereas the Birni was put under the native authority system headed by the Emir of Kano, the sabon gari was managed directly by the colonial authorities so that the two settlements could have little or nothing to do with each other. The strangers were completely forbidden from living in the inner city, Birni, reserved for the indigenous Muslim population (Albert 1994: 1996) and the Kanawa too were forbidden from living in the Sabon gari with the southerners. They were expected to respect a law signed by the governor – general in 1914.” … (9)


Inter-Religious conflicts


“The first church in Kano was not established until 1911. The colonial urban development policies restricted the construction of churches to the Sabon gari as way of reducing conflicts between the Muslims and the Christians. Except Christ Church which was an example of where the Christians had to acquire land for constructing church outside the Sabon gari, the Christians tried as much as possible to restrict their activities to Sabon gari. Those of them who wanted to build churches were probably not able to acquire land for such purposes from their Kanawa host. This explains why there are more churches at Sabon gari settlement today than one would find in any similar settlement in Nigeria.

Up to the early 1980s, there was no open hostility between the Christians and Muslims in Kano beyond the often joking relationship of the Muslims referring to the Kanawa as Kafirai (infidels) and the latter too referring to the Kanawa as Kulle-Kulle (meaning those who lock up their wives). The situation changed in the early 1980s as Nigeria opened up to fundamentalist  Christianity. There was a rapid growth of Christian churches in Nigeria with many of their members professing “born again” theology. A recent survey by Albert [1997] in Kano indicated that there are now [averagely] more Christian churches in Sabon gari, Kano, than in many big southern Nigeria cities. When the result of this survey is critically considered along the historical circumstances of Christian growth in Kano, the basis for the present Muslim-Christian conflicts in the city becomes clearer. The fact is that Kano is now becoming more open to Christian influence.”… (10)


As can be seen, Nigeria has the problem of integration as a result of ethnicity, religion, colonialism, land, and the constitution. A lot of studies have taken place and we Nigerians have acquired enough knowledge to solve our problems. To be able to do this, we have to dialogue. 


Value System


We must also point out, based on these conflicts that there is something fundamentally wrong with our value system. Nigeria is a classic example of “representation without taxation”, “reaping without planting” and sharing without contributing.” If these are reversed and representation depends on taxation, reaping depends on what was planted and sharing depends on contribution, most of these disputes will abate. Communities will be bound together irrespective of natives, non-natives, settlers, indigenes etc. Nigerians need to work hard, not scheme hard for what they want and get. Hard work must be made to pay in Nigeria of the 21st century. In any case why can’t we have an Edo speaking Kano man, or a Hausa speaking Owerri man, or an Igbo speaking Ibadan man? The answer to this is to have only ‘place of birth’ in all official documents.  We must make Nigerians work for what they get, so that value of contribution becomes more relevant in what ever we share in this country. At the moment we contribute only 10% of what we share. We must be appreciative of those whose ‘good fortune’ makes it possible for Nigerians to have additional 90% to share. This is not done by expropriating land and minerals from them because they are minorities in order to ensure that they remain poor, backward and disunited.  


1.            Community Conflict in Nigeria Edited by Imigu Otite and Isaac Olawale Albert Page 2.

2.         ditto Page  83

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Terms of Reference III

To advise on measures necessary to achieve a fair and just balance between the legal provisions and the practical applications of the constitutional provisions of citizenship and rights.


Constitution and Practical Application


Ordinarily, there should be no difference between constitution and legal provisions and their practical application. Unfortunately we have had to balance between secular and Islamic interpretation of what constitute rights. This has become so pronounced that constitution and legal rights of the citizen are ignored, under the expediency of Religion.


The first practical and lasting measure is to have a new constitution, that deals only with fundamentals, and which a child in a secondary school should be able to recite from cover to cover. For over 100 years, the government of Nigeria has been biased in favour of “a system of rule of society (of) which an important ingredient is the operation of Muslims law.” Whenever this system is in conflict with fundamental rights, and the rule of society based on Muslim law was allowed to prevail over the constitution.


We must therefore decide whether we want a secular state or an Islamic state. The interposition of one over the other is largely responsible not only for conflict in that what Constitutes the law in such circumstances becomes uncertain.

The question of secularity must be settled otherwise peace will elude the country.


Our Constitution


Our Constitution must be the fundamental and organic law of one nation, establishing the conception, character, and organization of our government, as well as prescribing the extent of its sovereign power and the manner of its exercise

It must be rigid and must not be in competition with Native Law and Custom, be it traditional or Islamic. It must prevail over all laws, whether native or Islamic


CSMN is of the view that the more rational approach to our problem is not to seek a balance between legal provisions and practical application, but pass laws which are Constitutionally reasonable and can be enforced.

We want to repeat once again that the way Nigeria is structured is unjust to the various ethnic groups and unless we return to an acceptable and agreed structure, all measure including the balancing act by various communities will be futile. We therefore need a national conference of ethnic nationalities to discuss all the issues and not a diversionary approach by way of committee on citizenship.


Human Rights Provisions & Other Sections of the Constitution


Under the Fundamental Human Rights provisions, most of these rights are directed to person or individual – citizen is used under section 37 thereby guaranteeing the privacy of homes of citizens, correspondence, telephone conversation and telegraphic communications.  Section 41 guarantees the rights of citizen to free movement throughout the country and cannot be refused entry into Nigeria or expelled therefrom. Section 42 protects a Nigerian citizen from discrimination, where the rights to acquire property and to own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria is quaranteed.


The CSMN is of the very strong view that any section of the Constitution that contradicts the fundamental rights provisions are void if such a provision or Section, cannot be reasonably justified in a democratic society. There is the impression that while any law (not sections of the constitution) can be declared unconstitutional if the law is at variance with the provisions or contradicts Human rights provisions sections of the Constitution cannot be declared void. We submit that such interpretation will contradict the reason for Human Rights provisions in the first place.


Reasons for Human Rights


The entire social and political structure of Nigeria under the present political dispensation rests on the cornerstone that all men have certain basic rights, which are inherent and inalienable. A guaranteed Right differs from a right conferred by the common Law or by statute only in the fact that it is guarded from any attack or interference by the legislature or any other governmental agent of the nation.  It also guarded against whatever is contrary to democratic ideals, customs and maxims, essentially unjust and unequal, or in excess of people’s reasonable and legitimate interest or “arbitrary”.

The very purpose of the fundamental rights is to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.

The courts must ever be watchful to protect the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Constitutional Rights cannot be made dependent on favour of the court, but may be asserted as a matter of right, and in the matter of safeguarding these guaranteed Rights, the Court looks to the substance, rather than the technical forms of procedure taken to invoke the protection of law.

It is our view that sections of the Constitution that takes away what is protected by the guaranteed rights must be ignored or declared ineffective by the courts. Therefore all Sections of the Constitution and electoral Act which are in conflict with guaranteed rights cannot be conferred.

We have shown how Human Rights came into our Constitution – via the United Nations and Willink’s commission for the protection of not only minorities’ rights, but also the rights of every free man and woman in Nigeria. The rights referred to in section 37, 41,42, of the 1990 Constitution are reserved for citizens.


Under the circumstances, other section of the constitution that are in conflict with Human rights provision are themselves invalid.


Proviso to Section 147


If this interpretation is accepted then the proviso in section 147 which provides that “in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the president shall appoint at least one Minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state” is void in that it discriminates against other Nigerian citizens in the State.


This is so especially when the Constitution does not define the word indigene, or what constitutes indigeneship. The same is where the government is not applicable to section 192 on the appointment of commissioners of state government must conform with the provisions of section 14(4) of the 1999 Constitution, which states


“The composition of the government of a state, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the federation”. Here the diversity of people is mentioned not indigene.


Another anomaly is that one ethnic group Fulani, can be indigenes of nine states, Yoruba six states, Igbo six or seven states. CSMN is of the view that the indigeneship and Federal character are intended to give advantages to the larger ethnic groups in the structure, sharing and leadership in the affairs of Nigeria, and, in the process whittle down what constitutes citizenship under Chapter III of the Constitution and Human Rights Provisions under Chapter IV of the Constitution.

Terms of Reference IV


Identify roles of governments, communities and leaders in eliminating conflicts arising from disputes over the issues concept and practice of citizenship.


Role of Various Authorities

We must respect once again that the practice of citizenship as basis for conflict in Nigeria is inaccurate, rather the basis for conflict include – ownership of land, religion and political power not citizenship.


We therefore recommend the Book “Community Conflict in Nigeria” Edited by Onigu Otite and Isaac Olawale Albert.



Terms of Reference V


To examine any other issue that may assist in the achievement of higher level of National Unity through effective integration of communities.


National Unity and Colonialism

The difficulty in forging National Unity has its roots in Colonialism.


In the book “Lugard and the Amalgamation of Nigeria” A documentary Record being a reprint of the Report by Sir. F.D. Lugard on the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria and Administration, [1912 –1919], together with the supplementary unpublished Amalgamation Reports and other relevant documents, compiled and introduced by A.H.M Kirk-Green, people from Southern Nigeria are regarded as “aliens” and the situation seem to have remained so, not-withstanding the fundamental Human Rights provisions under the 1960, 1963, 1979 and 1999 Constitutions. The unfortunate aspect is that some Northerners especially the Hausa-Fulani, are now being regarded as “aliens” in Southern Nigeria.


 The report of the commission appointed to enquire into the fears of Minorities and the means of allaying them, popularly known as Willink’s report, showed that before independence in 1960, the Northern Ruling tribes comprised the Fulani-Hausa, Kanuri and Nupe. Part of the report reads; “In the Northern Region today, this Islamic society has its home in the great Emirates of the Northern part of the Region and extends, in varying degrees, towards the South and East. There is the faith and the law of Islam; there is a tribal groupings, the combination of the Fulani, Hausa, Nupe and Kanuri, all formerly ruling tribes, most of whom have long been adherents of Islam; there is the Hausa language, widely used as a lingua franca; there is a system of administration based on the Emir and a feudal pyramid below him – all these elements fusing to make what, may, for convenience, be called the Northern System.” (1)


The report went on: “That is why the Northern Region, though it contains more than half the population of Nigeria, is far behind the two Southern Regions in the number of persons educated in the English language; that is why it was, until recently, usual to find Southerners throughout the Northern Region in posts as ‘clerk, overseers, artisans, ticket collectors and the like; today there is sharp resentment at their presence. They are regarded as foreigners and are now being discouraged, sometimes by very positive steps, from taking or even keeping employment of this kind – a process greatly to the advantage of those whose homes lie within the Northern Region but who were least under the influence of the Northern System and most exposed to Missionary influence.” [Emphasis ours]. (2)


As we had indicated earlier citizenship is of recent phenomenon, whereas land and ethnicity had existed for a number of millennia, and some ethnic groups in Nigeria have resided on the land for upward of two millennia. To deprive a people of their land, their minerals is to reduce them to the level of slaves. There is need therefore to return Land to their original owners and all that the original owners need is acknowledgement and respect from those who have come to settle on their land.


Recently the Benins and Itsekiris held a meeting about Koko Land and the dispute over the land was settled amicably after the Itsekiri re-affirmed that Binis are the owners of the Land. The ethnic Nationalities do not accept the Land Use Act, and have adopted the strategy of wait and see.




“We of the CSMN recommend Subsidiarity. It is in this context that the papal concept of subsidiarity – the idea that the state should not take over what individuals or groups can do – is a significant development. ‘It is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community.’ The notion of subsidiarity asserts that decisions should be taken at the lowest level possible which is compatible with good government. This concept is a significant tool in maintaining the rights of the individual or small community over the battalions of big government. The state should not do what the local authority can discharge, a local council should not take to itself what might be done by smaller local groups or even individuals.” (3)

Pope Pius describes subsidiarity as ‘that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or charged, [which] remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy’. And he goes on to define it:

Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do … ‘The supreme authority of the State ought, therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance … those in power should be sure that the more perfectly a graduated order is kept among the various associations, in observance of the principle of ‘subsidiarity of function’, the stronger social authority and effectiveness will be and the happier and more prosperous the condition of the State. “ (4) 

This is an important practice principle, and one which the Church has firmly held on to in its social teaching (even if it has failed, especially in the present pontificate, to apply it to the way the Church governs itself). It is a principle which offers a useful yardstick for judging the wisdom of day-to-day decisions in the contemporary political scene. Such a principle would, for example, endorse the local management of schools or the devolution of responsibility to tenants on housing estates.

Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater or higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy or absorb them. The supreme authority of the State ought, therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance, which would otherwise dissipate its efforts greatly. Thereby the State will more freely, powerfully and effectively do those things that belong to it alone because it alone can do them: directing, watching, urging, restraining, as occasion requires and necessity demands. Therefore those in power should be sure that the more perfectly a graduated order is kept among the various associations, in observance of the principle of subsidiary function, the stronger social authority and effectiveness will be, the happier and more prosperous the condition of the State.


“The doctrine of subsidiarity requires that the state should not take upon itself what individuals can do; but it also requires that the state should not shirk from doing what it can do better than individuals or private bodies – issues concerning the environment or the regulation of international finance and trade are obvious examples. It maintains that workers have a right to join trade unions. Its doctrine of solidarity insists that interdependent is a moral issue; that rich individuals and nations have a duty to help the poor; that everyone has a responsibility to commit themselves to the common good. Its doctrine of structural sin – with its insight that sin can reside in social and economic structures and institutions as well as in the acts of individuals – casts a searching light upon much activity of which the mechanisms of the market wash their hands. It asserts through the notion of the indirect employer that anyone who benefits from exploitation – knowingly or not – has moral culpability for it.” Major ethnic nationalities must not exploit smaller ethnic groups in the country. 

CSMN believes that the Nigerian State in order to promote Islamization has centralized power in the hands of a few power holders most of whom are Muslims. Thereby promoting a special class reflected in the pay structure of the ordinary Nigerian whose minimum wage is N7, 500 monthly [Seven Thousand, Five hundred naira] while the legislators are on N426, 820. 00  [Four Hundred and Twenty-Six Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty naira] monthly and Senators N503, 226. 00 [Five and Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty-Six naira] We must remind our power holders of what happened in Sierra Leone and Liberia  that had a class of returned slaves, who decided to ignore the natives who were and are in the majority. Today these two West African countries are yet to recover from the devastations of war. We hope that reason will prevail, and our power holders will appreciate the need for Subsidiarity and Justice.   


It is clear that our Muslim brothers do not accept fundamental human rights and have said so in the past and,only recently, with the Introduction of Sharia, some Muslims believe that  Sharia is superior to the Constitution. Not being Muslims, we can only judge Islam by what we read, and how we are affected.

Permit us to remind the Committee that Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 said “This is not a struggle between the United States and Iran, it is a struggle between Islam and the infidels. – Americans and Western ways of life were all anti-Islamic and should be viewed as enemies.” He went on further to say that  “The Governments of the world should know that Islam cannot be defeated – Islam will be victorious in all the countries of the world and all the teaching of the Qur’an will prevail over all the world.” Khomeini also called for worldwide Islamic revolution.

The spread of Islamic fundamentalism between 1974 – 2000 was as a result of Arab excess wealth from Petroleum and doctrine from an unprecedented power base were used to broaden the scope and influence of Islam. It would be recalled that it was during this period that Nigeria was smuggled into the Organization of Islamic Conference [OIC] and D8 – Development 8 another Islamic Organization. It should be noted that to this day, there is a merger of Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism. Western Society has since the early 70’s been faced with real challenges of fundamental Islam. Petrodollars have been used to harass the so-called “Infidels” which culminated in the September 11, 2001 terrorists attack on the United States.

The CSMN wishes to point out that the impression created by some Muslims is that they believe that they alone have been given the final revelation of God in the Qur’an, and from this sacred book they are called to be reformers of God’s will. Islam carries the harsh, intolerant and imperative posture to convert or conquer unbelievers. This is without prejudice to the often-professed view that Islam is a religion of peace. Not being able to convert Christians in Nigeria, they have decided to ‘colonize’ Christians by the introduction of Sharia Non-Muslims are pawns in any Islamic holy war, the objective being to bring the world under the umbrella of Islamic control and thus finally fulfill God’s will for all people. Muslims confess that there is only one true God and that Mohammad is his only true prophet. They see Christians as blasphemers for proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christianity and Islam agree on one fundamental principle – God is the creator of all things – but from there on they differ. This difference is also exhibited here in Nigeria.


“Egypt historically is a case study of the way Islam can drown a nation. For twenty five centuries, Egypt had been occupied by every rising power in the known world, from the Assyrians and the Hellenist Greeks to the Romans and Byzantines Radical Islam and moderate Islam we know cannot peacefully co-exist. Sadat was hated both inside and outside his country by Islamic fundamentalists. Sadat broke the 29-year ban on direct dealing with the State of Israel. He visited Israel, followed by the Camp David meeting of September 1978 and the historic “framework for peace.”  The Peace Treaty was signed on 20/3/79.

Sadat a Muslim was assassinated by Muslim fundamentalists on 6/10/81. Some Muslims took to the streets in Arab countries rejoicing at the “death of the infidel.” Sadats death was an attempt to purify Islam, to eliminate what they consider a corrupt element. (5) We are not unmindful that Ghandi, Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King were murdered by their own kind, but the difference is that the assassination of Sadat is doctrinally induced…

Our research on the subject of Islam seem to convince us that Islamic philosophy divides the world into two camps, believers and infidels. Infidels are to be humiliated, denied the due process of law, and, ultimately to be killed or converted. These fears are reflected in Willinks report: “Fight against such as those who have been given the scripture as believe not in Allah nor the last day” Qur’an [9:29]. To follow this doctrine is what makes a Muslim true to Islam. The same scripture justifies how Muslim fundamentalist consider moderate Muslims who do not follow the letter of law, as infidels, thus deserving the same treatment. In our memorandum to the PPNS at page 29, we referred to the Commission of Inquiry into the 1980 Kano Religious riot, which described the Jama’atu Nasir Islam [J.N.I] as having been set up to propound extreme religious views in furtherance of Islam. Most Muslim organizations such as J.N.I are bent on carrying Islamic philosophy to its full extent and applying its law literally.  Hassan Albanna, founder of Egyptian Brotherhood to his followers said:

“You are not a benevolent organization, nor a political party, nor a local association with limited arms. Rather, you are a new spirit making its way into the heart of this nation, and reviving it through the Qur’an; a new light dawning and scattering the darkness of materialism through the knowledge of God, a resounding voice rising and echoing the message of the Apostle.” (6)

There is ‘sacred hatred’ of some Islamic nations which have departed from the true faith, said Ahmed Mustapha, of Muslim brotherhood. “Spilling the blood of heretics is the sacred duty of all Muslims.” Thus Egyptian Brotherhood was founded in 1928 with the main object of  “establishing a modern political community based on a return to the fundamental precepts of Islam.” To the Islamic purist, like a Brotherhood member, all other religions are either heretical or hopelessly corrupt. There is no tolerance for any other view. They also believe that it is Allah's will for all societies to come under the Islamic flag [green] and for Islamic [Sharia] law and religion to control and undergird the whole of life for all people. In other words, only a doctrinally pure, non-corrupt Islamic nation can please Allah. Anything else must be destroyed or redeemed. 

Muslim fundamentalists believe that ancient religions began with divine revelation. But the followers lost sight of the divine truth on which their religions were founded, and their systems became corrupt. The falsehood in these religions was, and is, exposed in the Qur’an. With the coming of Islam, these religions were considered dead – worthy only to be buried. It was as a result of Islamic and Arab ‘cultural imperialism’ that permeated every area of Egyptian life, becoming [within a few years] an integral part of it that made Egypt an otherwise Christian country into an Islamic one.”  The same cultural imperialism is being employed on Nigeria of today.

Sultan to NIREC


We are however not unmindful of the memorandum submitted by the Sultan of Sokoto at a seminar on Peaceful co-Existence. His Eminence contributed to the discussion on the subject – Peaceful co-Existence organized by Inter-Religious Council [NIREC] in Abuja, 23rd – 24th  February 2002. In it he referred to [Qur’an 4:13] and added: “The implication of this as the prophet of Islam has aptly explained is that there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or vice-versa except in piety and God consciousness. Why human beings are all equal before God is because of their common origin. All mankind is the progeny of Adam and Adam was fashioned out of clay.” Devolving from the above, Islam guarantees a set of rights to all human beings regardless of their religious persuasion. These include right to live, to own property and honour among others. Concerning the right to live the Qur’an prohibits all kinds of killings except under due process of law. The Qur’an warns people not to take life which Allah has made sacred except for just causes” [Qu’ran 17: 33].  He went further after referring to [Qu’ran 5: 32] and added: “The important point being made is the basic source of Islam and its clear provisions for peaceful coexistence.”


The Sultan went on further to say; “Peaceful co-existence, for the purpose of enriching our understanding, has to do with the ability of different groups within a political entity to live with one another in peace and harmony. It involves the recognition of the worth of one another, the acceptance of everyone as equals and the respect of the rights and privileges of one another. It also involves the recognition and respect of each other’s differences. But peaceful co-existence does not always rule out the use of force. Where a group refuses to abide by the law”…


“There are a number of important ways through which peaceful coexistence can be promoted in the country. One of these is to guarantee the right to freedom of religion and conscience to every one. Nigeria’s constitution has already made important provisions in that regard. What remains is for the government as well as religious leaders to ensure the protection of this right to freedom of conscience and religion.” 


The above shows the difference between Moderate and Fundamentalist Muslims. However it is the view of the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria that the problems of ethnic, religious and other clashes also has its roots in religion, especially as a result of the desire of Muslims to turn Nigeria into an Islamic country by all means, fair or foul.



National Conference


In our memorandum to the Presidential Committee on National Security we called for a National Conference. Only last week the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in a memorandum to Mr. President, and we agree with that religious body’s statement on Ethnic, Religion Political violence and Sharia said:

Ethnic, Religion and Political Violence


“The problem of ethnic, religious and political violence has continued to confront our nation in recent times. In the past two years it has assumed unprecedented dimensions. Kaduna, Kano, Nassarwa, Benue and Taraba states have been engulfed by disturbing incidents of religious and or ethnic violence. Anambra and Osun states respectively have experienced intra-ethnic violence, where people of the same ethnic origin fought each other with savagery and ferociousness. Similar intra-ethnic conflicts have become a regular feature in the Niger Delta region. In Jos, a hitherto haven of peace, a combination of smoldering religious and political intolerance ignited ethnic violence. These bloody conflicts reflect an unfolding plan of causing confusion to destabilize the nation by some unscrupulous individuals.


In the face of all these conflicts and their attendant toll on human lives and wanton destruction of property worth billions of Naira, we renew our call for a national forum for dialogue that will examine the sources of these unrests and propose measures to heal the divisions. To say ‘no’ to such a national dialogue at this time is to say ‘yes’ to continued violence. With a deep sense of responsibility we also note that insecurity in the land is not solved by the proliferation of questionable vigilante groups. There is no civilized alternative to a well trained, well equipped and well paid police force.” [Emphasis supplied]


Sharia and Secular Nature of our Nation


In the past we have stressed that a secular state, understood as the non-adoption of any religion as a state religion or giving preferential treatment to one religion, promotes the principle of equality of all religions before the law. Given the existence of multi-religious groups with divergent interests in the country, the violation of the secular nature of our nation cannot occur without grave threats to peace and stability.


We wish to state anew that the adoption and full implementation of Sharia law by some States in the Northern part of Nigeria is a flagrant violation of the secular nature of the Nigerian Nation. Its introduction and extension into the domain of criminal law have given rise to the trampling of the rights of innocent and law-abiding citizens, who cannot seek redress in law courts on account of well-founded fear of threats to their lives and property, and those of their families.


In the interest of national peace and harmony, we urge the federal government to heed the loud and just opposition of many Nigerians, Christians and others, to the imposition of the Sharia as state law. Government should, also rise, without further delay, to its avowed duty of protecting the lives and property of its citizens. This is the time to act before matters deteriorate into conflicts that will undermine the very existence of Nigeria as a nation. Already as early as November 1999, when this dangerous trend started, we warned the nation. We regret that our fears have been confirmed. This matter must be revisited if we are to have durable peace in our land.”         




In the Prayer against Bribery and Corruption in Nigeria by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in September 1998, it began thus

“Father in Heaven, you always provide for all your creatures, so that all may live as you have willed. You have blessed our country Nigeria with rich human and natural resources to be used to your honour and glory and for the well-being of every Nigerian.” –

We have placed before you, the members, of The Presidential Committee on Provision and Practice of Citizenship and Rights in Nigeria, that citizenship is of recent creation, just over one century, while ownership of land in Nigeria is over two millenia. That the disturbances in Nigeria have very little to do with citizenship, rather that it has to do with Land, Religion and Political Rights. That the emphasis on citizenship is a misconception or a diversion.

We discussed Human Rights in detail its history and provisions in the 1960, 1979 and 1999 Constitution. We concluded that several sections of the 1999 Constitution that derogates from the Human Rights provisions under the same Constitution are ineffective and could be declared void in so far as they affect Human Right provisions.

We discussed Land in some details and we pointed out that Lord Lugard regarded Land and Native Rights Act 1916 as “expropriation” since the fundamental principle that conquest or cession should not affect private property.

We therefore concluded that the Land Use Act 1978 has turned us into slaves not owning Land or minerals.

We discussed in great details the influence of Islam in Nigeria as a follow up of our membership of OIC and D8. We draw a comparison between a moderate and fundamentalists or the Islamist. The implication is that it is the Islamist that prevails. We recommended Subsidiarity as necessary for good governance.

We referred to the memorandum of the Catholic Bishops Conference to President Obasanjo in February 2002, on ethnic religious political violence and Sharia, which represents the viewpoints of Christians in Nigeria which should not be ignored or wished away.




We want to draw an analogy to what happened at Ikeja Military Cantonement where explosives were stored, and committee after committee include that of the Senate drew attention to the possibility of an explosion, and these calls were not heeded. When the explosion eventually took place about one thousand Nigerians lost their lives.

The Catholic Bishops have called for a national dialogue, before them the Afenifere, the Ohanaeze Ndi’ Igbo, Union of Niger Delta – representing the South South or Southern minorities, the Middle Belt Forum representing the minorities of the North, all calling for a National Conference or dialogue. Mr. President and the Hausa/Fulani are opposed to a National Conference. The CSMN will continue to pray that the Nigerian situation does not explode and God willing this may not happen, but we subscribe to the view that “Heaven helps those who help themselves.” God bless Nigeria.


Dated in Benin City this 1st Day of March 2002.


For and on behalf of the CSMN






…………………………                                                               …………………………..

S.A. Asemota Esq. SAN                                                                         Pastor Remi Yesufu

          Chairman                                                                                       General Secretary     



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