Ending The Armed Conflict In Nigeria (Plateau State)
Year(s): 2013 – 2020.
Location: Plateau State, Nigeria.
UN Regional Group: Africa.
Type of Conflict: Horizontal (non-state) Intrastate Conflict.
Type of Initiative: Military intervention, peace infrastructure and the mediation of a peace agreement.
Main Implementing Organisation(s): The Government of Nigeria and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Summary: A military intervention by the Nigerian military helped to contain intercommunal violence in Plateau State until the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue mediated a peace agreement which ended the fighting and helped create a peace infrastructure to continue its work and prevent a conflict relapse.
Description of Case
Plateau State is located in central Nigeria, in the “Middle Belt” of the country which divides the majority Muslim north with the predominantly Christian south. The largest city in the state, Jos, was engulfed in a vicious riot in 2001, largely fought between communities classified in the constitution as “indigenes” and “settlers” over legal privileges and protections and political representation in local and provincial institutions. Over the course of six days, groups armed with bows and arrows, spears, petrol bombs, and homemade firearms fought each other for control of the city until a military intervention by the Nigerian armed forces finally ended the violence. Approximately 1,000 people died in the unrest. Conflicts such as this took place again in 2002 and in 2008, when 700 people were killed. In response to the pervasive eruptions of violence, the Government of Nigeria established the Operation Safe Haven taskforce in 2010. The taskforce incorporated agencies and departments spanning the entire Nigerian security establishment and was tasked with managing and ultimately ending the conflicts in Jos and Plateau State. This served to contain some of the violence (although over one hundred people were killed during unrest in 2012) but failed to develop a more lasting solution to the problem.
Since 2013, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) has been working to encourage communities across the Middle Belt to employ dialogue as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. In August 2013, HD began facilitating an intercommunal dialogue process in Jos involving eight local communities (the Afizere, Anaguta, Berom, Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, South-South, Yoruba, and Women), traditional and religious leaders, representatives of the regional administration of Plateau State as well as the federal government, and observers from the relevant Nigerian security agencies. These talks culminated in June 2014 with the signing of the Joint Declaration of Commitment to Peace and Cooperation, which included provisions to end the fighting and bring communities together to rebuild a more peaceful city. This served to end the conflict and created a climate in which, at the least, destroyed infrastructure has been rebuilt and basic services can be delivered. To prevent a conflict relapse, HD established a Conflict Early Warning Response System and supported the formation of the Plateau Peace Dialogue Forum, which was tasked with keeping the peace process on track. In 2016, the Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA) took responsibility for maintaining peace in the area and, two years later, published the Plateau State Road Map for Peace which serves as a guide for coordinating efforts to reduce armed conflict. In 2020, the PPBA worked with its counterpart in Kaduna State to end a conflict between communities on the border. These efforts have reduced armed conflict in Plateau State.
 Kingsley L. Madueke. “Towards a Sequence of Ethnic Riots: Stages, Processes and Interactions in the Production of Communal Violence in Jos, Nigeria.” Civil Wars, Vol. 23, No.2. (2021) p.236
 Kingsley L. Madueke & Floris F. Vermeulen. “Frontiers of Ethnic Burtality in an African City: Explaining the Spread and Recurrence of Violent Conflict in Jos, Nigeria.” Africa Spectrum, Vol. 53, No. 2. (2018) p.46
 HD Jos Forum Inter-communal Dialogue Process Joint Declaration of Commitment to Peace and Cooperation, 2014. Available at: https://www.hdcentre.org/activities/jos-plateau-state-nigeria/ (Accessed 27/01/2022)
 Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. “Nigeria.” Activities. (HD, 2022) Available at: https://www.hdcentre.org/activities/jos-plateau-state-nigeria/ (Accessed 27/01/2022)
 Darren Kew. “How to calm violent crises? Nigeria has an idea.” United States Institute of Peace Analysis and Commentary. (4 June 2021) Available at: https://www.usip.org/publications/2021/06/how-calm-violent-crises-nigeria-has-idea (Accessed 27/01/2022)
 Maurice Ogbonnaya. “Peacebuilding Agencies and Farmer-Herder Conflicts in Nigeria’s Middle Belt Region: Successes and Policy Challenges.” African Peacebuilding Network Briefing Note, No. 31. (2021) p.2