THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT OF VICTIMS OF THE 1998 VIOLENT INTER ETHNIC CONFLICT IN TOTO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, NASARAWA STATE, NIGERIA

THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT OF VICTIMS OF THE 1998 VIOLENT INTER ETHNIC CONFLICT IN TOTO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, NASARAWA STATE, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The Bassa-Egbura violent inter-ethnic conflict rendered many

people homeless, reduced them to internally displaced persons and

inflicted other forms of physical and psychological injuries to

others. It also resulted in the loss of lives and properties. This

study investigated the social and economic adjustment and

strategies adopted by victims of this conflict. The conflict

perspective was reviewed and adopted as frame of analysis for the

better understanding of the social and economic adjustment of

victims. A field work was conducted in the three districts of Toto

Local Government Area to gain insight into the genesis and extents

of the violence conflict. The researcher administered three hundred

(300) structured questionnaires to the internally displaced persons

who had returned after the conflict. Focus group discussions were

held with members of the ethnic groups such as the Bassa,

Egbura, Yoruba, Hausa, Gbaygi and Ibo residing in the area. The

leaders of these ethnic groups also indepthly interviewed about the

hardship their people faced and who they considered were worse

hit. It was found that the Bassa were the worst affected group.

Their people were killed, their properties destroyed.        They

constituted the majority of the internally displaced persons. They

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went on exile to neighboring towns and states for a period of two

years facing hardships such as lack of money, friends, relations to

associate with and unemployment among others.       The crises

caused major disruptions to various aspects of life such as

economic activities, children’s education, infrastructures and

population displacement. On return, the adjustment of the

displaced victims included resettling in places other than their

former homes and starting life afresh to avoid been attacked by

those who had earlier attacked them. Those who returned to their

former area of settlement also had to start from the scratch

because all their houses and other resources had been destroyed.

The study recommends that dialogue should be facilitated among

the warring groups. There should be fair political participation at

local and state level, for the Bassa and the Egbura ethnic groups.

Boundary adjustment and land dispute issues among the Bassa

and Egbura should be resolved by the Nasarawa state government

to forestall the reoccurring violent conflict, lost of lives and

properties in the area.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0 Background of the Study

Violent inter – ethnic conflicts constitute one of the major

problems of social, economic and political life in Nigeria. Hardly has

any region been spared from any form of conflict, even though they

differ in prevalence and intensity. Alubo (2006) noted that in the far

north, violent religious disturbances have broken out in Kano,

Katsina, Zaria and Kaduna among other places since 1980. In the

south-west, there have been violent communal conflicts at Sagamu,

Lagos, and Ife-Modakeke. In the south-east, the Umuleri-Aguleri

conflicts were most noticeable. The Toto violent inter-ethnic

conflict, the subject of this study occurred in the north-central geo-

political zone of Nigeria.

It is evident that violent conflict between ethnic groups is a

threat to national integration and development. Nation building is

threatened by inter-ethnic conflicts which undermine the security

and political stability, economic developments, protection of human

lives and property. The phenomenon of inter-ethnic violent conflict

deserves a study in Nigeria because it leads to destruction of lives

and property. This study examines the violent inter-ethnic conflict

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between the Bassa and Egbura in Toto Local Government Area of

Nasarawa State that took place in 1998 with sporadic recurrence

up to 2003.

Ethnic group, as a concept ordinarily refers to people who

share a common ancestry, common language and common culture

Typically, there are common identities, common natural habitat,

territoriality and common ancestry. In Nigeria all ethnic groups

have geophysical spaces which are regarded as their respective

home lands. Members lay claims to being “indigenes” “natives” or

“sons/daughters of the soil”. These popular concepts refer to

whether or not one is within or outside the ethnic home land (Alubo

2006:5)

Barth (1986:7), defined ethnic group as a;

Largely biological self-perpetuating group of people that share fundamental cultural values, realized in overt unity in cultural forms.

Suberu (1996:4) defined ethnic group as;

A social collectivity whose members share such objective characteristics as language, core territory, ancestral myths, culture, religion,  political                   organization                        and     a perception of common ancestry.

The two definitions, consider ethnic group as a social

construct marked by language affiliation, customs, value systems

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and a common origin. The definitions also extend to natural

habitat, territoriality and common ancestry. In a nutshell, ethnic

groups exist within the framework of a shared citizenship,

historical experiences and a membership of a territory acquired and


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