Effects of Boko Haram Insurgency on Religious Cleavages in Nigeria

Bello Sani Kabara, Kabiru Ibrahim Danguguwa
DOI Number:


With their open claims on recorded video/audio clips to Islamize Nigeria with the force of war, Boko Haram attacks on the Nigerian civilian population in places of worship has further exacerbated existing religious cleavage among the adherents of the two major religions — Islam and Christianity in Nigeria. This is why this article offers critical analysis of patterns of rhetoric between leaders and adherents of the two religious groups, which centers on their viewpoints of the sponsors, agenda and principle targets of the insurgents. Based on Lipset and Rokkan’s (1967) theory of social cleavage, the findings indicate that the kind of rhetoric that Boko Haram attacks spurred among leaders and followers of the two religions has produced the deepest and bitterest opposition among the two religious groups, therefore affected relations..

Keywords: Boko Haram, Group Division, Religion and Social Cleavage Theory.

Full Text:


Adibe, J. (2012). Boko Haram: One Sect, Conflicting Narratives. African Rennaissance: Terrorism in Africa9(1),     47-64.

Adogame, A. (2010). How God became a Nigerian: Religious Impulse and the Unfolding of a Nation. Journal of

Contemporary African Studies28(4), 479-498.

Akinola, O. (2015). Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria: Between Islamic Fundamentalism, Politics, and      Poverty. African Security8(1), 1-29.

Aribisala, F. (2014, January 14). The ‘Northern’ blackmail of Nigeria. Premium Time. Retrieved from                 http://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/153235-northern-blackmail-nigeria-femi-aribisala.html.

Chouin, G., Reinert, M., & Apard, E. (2014). Body Count and Religion in the Boko Haram Crisis: Evidence from       the Nigeria Watch database. In Islamism, politics, security and the state in Nigeria. Retrieved from                 https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/23853/ASC-075287668-3441-01.pdf

Fox, J. (1997). The Salience of Religious Issues in Ethnic Conflicts: A large‐N study. Nationalism and Ethnic              Politics3(3), 1-19.

Fox, J., & Sandler, S. (2003). Quantifying Religion: Toward Building More Effective Ways of Measuring Religious    Influence on State-Level Behavior. Journal of Church and State, 45(3) 559-588.

Ibrahim, J. (1991). Religion and Political Turbulence in Nigeria. The Journal of Modern African Studies29(01),        115-136

Iruonagbe, C. T. (2009). Religion and Its Attendant Conflicts in Nigeria: A Paradox. International Journal of             Theology & Reformed Tradition1, 152-168.

Isine, I., (2014, May 5).Boko Haram Wants War Between Muslims, Christians In Nigeria Jonathan Premium          Times. Retrieved fromhttps://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/160135-boko-haram-wants-war-between- christians-muslims-in-nigeria-jonathan.html

Kazeem, U., (2012, May 2). Boko Haram Plans to Wipe Out Christians CAN PMNews. Retrieved from                 https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2012/05/02/boko-haram-plans-to-wipe-out-christians-can/.

Kukah, M. H., & Falola, T. (1996). Religious Militancy and Self-Assertion: Islam and Politics in Nigeria. Avebury,     Michigan.

Lipset, S.M. and Rokkan, S. ed., 1967. Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives. New         York: The Free Press.

Mang, H. G. Christian Perceptions of Islam and Society in Relation to Boko Haram and Recent Events in Jos and    northern Nigeria. In Islamism, politics, security and the state in Nigeria. Retrieved from                 https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/23853/ASC-075287668-3441-01.pdf

Olaniyan, A., & Asuelime, L. (2014). Boko Haram Insurgency and the Widening of Cleavages in Nigeria. African      Security7(2), 91-109.

Onapajo, H., and Usman, A.A., 2015. Fuelling the Flames: Boko Haram and Deteriorating Christian-Muslim              Relations in Nigeria. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 35(1), 106-122.

Onapajo, H., Uzodike, U. O., & Whetho, A. (2012). Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria: The International       Dimension. South African Journal of International Affairs19(3), 337-357

Osaghae, E. E., & Suberu, R. T. (2005). A History of Identities, Violence and Stability in Nigeria. Centre for               Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, University of Oxford.

Pérouse de Montclos, M. A. (2014). Boko Haram and Politics: From Insurgency to Terrorism. Retrieved from                 https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/23853/ASC-075287668-3441-01.pdf.

Sarki, A., (2012, June 22). Christians Are to be Blamed for Boko Haram Bombings.Daily Post. Retrieved from                 http://dailypost.ng/2012/06/22/christians-blamed-boko-haram-bombings-el-rufai/

Thurston, A. (2012). Tough Rhetoric on Boko Haram from the Christian Association of Nigeria. The Christian

Science Monitor. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2012/0504/Tough-rhetoric-on-Boko-Haram-from-the-Christian-Association-of-Nigeria.

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom(2015, January 2). Religious Freedom and Nigeria’s                 2015 Elections. Washington D.C. Retrieved from https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/NigeriaFactsheetJan2015_0.pdf

Waxman, D. (2011). Living with terror, not living in terror: The impact of chronic terrorism on Israeli             society. Perspectives on Terrorism5(5-6).

Human Rights Watch. (2012). Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria.           Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/nigeria1012webwcover.pdf.