1.1 Background to the Study
The nature of conflicts in the world has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War to the extent that conflicts between or among nation-states have reduced significantly, while the trend is that conflicts have increased within nation-states due to intense struggle for power and scarce resources between and among groups, thereby putting ethnic group against ethnic group and communities against communities. Consequently, Joshua (2014) observed that more than hundred (100) major conflicts occurred in the world, leaving more than twenty million (20,000,000) dead, several millions wounded and millions displaced persons.
In Africa, conflict on sub national level between communities or local militias is a wide spread problem. In fact, the continent experienced 386 communal conflicts between the period 1989 and 2014, with an estimate of 131, 563 people that lost their lives within same period. The countries affected include Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, withNigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo being the most affected, (Torbjornsson, 2016, Elfversson, 2013).
In Nigeria, this situation became more prevalent since the return to democratic rule in 1999, threatening the survival of Nigerian democracy and unity. Within the first three years of democratic rule in Nigeria, the country witnessed not less than forty violent communal conflicts. From the violent protest of the Niger-Delta over the perceived injustice for resource control and environmental degradation as well as quest for an equitable federal arrangement, to the Itsekiri-Ijaw violence in the Delta over claims of land ownership and boundary claims, the Ife-Modakeke communal conflict in Osun state, the ZangonKataf in Kaduna state, Tiv-Jukun in Taraba State and Eleme- Okrika in Rivers
state. Nigeria has never been confronted with such great security challenge as it presently experience evidenced by protracted communal clashes and killings and abduction by the Boko Haram sect.
No region has been spared the vicious scourge of conflict though their prevalence and intensity have not been the same in occurrences across the length and breadth of the nation. Thus, fingers are swift in pointing accusingly to colonial legacies and continual interplay of external and internal imperialist forces that fan the embers of violence for selfish aggrandisement. The present situation is further intensified by elements of globalisation, natural disasters, proliferation of weapons and light arms, corruption, executive lawlessness and leadership ineptitude (Chinwokwu, 2012: 393).
While some of these challenges are self-imposed and reinforced through greed-based behaviour, others are the result of poor institutional capacity of addressing widespread organised crime, general insecurity and conflict in the country. Furthermore, the institutional fragility of the state in terms of its ability and capacity to manage diversity, corruption, rising inequality between the rich and the poor, gross violation of human rights and contestation over land are the underlying issues of conflicts in Nigeria (Kwaja, 2009:102).