In Nigeria, escalating inter-communal violence has destabilised and divided communities. Political, economic and religious violence left over 12,500 people dead, 150,000 displaced and millions of livelihoods disrupted since 2001. Militancy, radicalism and recruitment into gangs and involved in violent crime are on the rise.
Gang culture and Boko Haram
In areas such as Plateau State, in the North-Central Zone of Nigeria, youth are particularly susceptible to being drawn into conflict situations. The violence provides them with an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction whilst also giving them power and status absent from their everyday lives. Youth have been excluded from participation in political, social and economic spheres, and have limited access to education, healthcare and well-paid jobs.
High levels of drug and alcohol abuse further exacerbate the marginalisation and vulnerability of youth. Increasingly, young people are relying upon gang culture to provide them with a sense of community. Boko Haram are carrying out attacks in Plateau’s neighbouring states, such as Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe, killing hundreds civilians in these states, including school children. Concerns are growing that Boko Haram are recruiting dissatisfied local youth.
In Plateau state, episodes of mass violence in 2001, 2004 and 2008 left hundreds of people dead and communities further segregated. In April 2014, 13 people were killed, with over 30 houses burnt in the Ryom Local government area in the Plateau State. On 20 May 2014 twin bombs in the city of Jos killed 100 people. On 5 July 2015 a double bomb blast with 44 deaths. There continue to be intermittent attacks and killings in several villages on the outskirts of Jos.