The negative consequences of the Tiv-Jukun ethnic conflict and other similar conflicts in Nigeria have stimulated the debate on citizenship in the country. This debate is driven by questions that hinge on contestable issues such as who is an indigene in Nigeria, why should other Nigerians be termed non-indigenes, settlers, migrants in other parts of the country and what should be the rights of Nigerian citizens? Using the Tiv-Jukun conflict as an example, this paper deals with the trajectory of the Nigerian citizenship crisis evoked by Nigerian experiences of discrimination when living in places other than where they come from. It suggests that for the citizenship crisis to be tackled, Nigerians from all backgrounds must enjoy boundless access to basic rights and freedom wherever they live in the country; besides this, citizenship contestation and the conflicts it rolls out represents a danger for national integration.
INTRODUCTION The Tiv-Jukun conflict is among the numerous ethnic conflicts that have blotted stability and instigated economic and social dislocation in Nigeria lately. The conflict is one of the protracted inter-ethnic feuds (Egwu, 1998: 65; IRIN, 2001: 2) that have occurred in 1959, 1980, 1990 and 2001. Like for conflicts such as the Zangon-Kataf conflict in Kaduna State, Aguleri-Umuleri in Anambra State, the Mango-Bokkos conflict in Plateau State, the Ife-Modakeke feud in Oyo State and so on; the land factor has been one of the central issues stimulating clashes between the Tiv and the Jukun people (Egwu, 2004: 56). The reason why land remains a predisposing factor in the escalation of violence between these two ethnic groups is the role played by the use of the indigene-settler divide as a tool for claiming their right to it. For the Jukun, the Tiv are settlers in the present day Taraba State and ipso facto have no ownership right to the land they occupy. The Tiv on the other hand, argue that they have been living here for long and therefore claim both land ownership and political rights in the State, particularly in the Wukari Local Government Area. These conflicting claims have triggered bloody clashes in the past; the most recent one happened in 2001. This
indigene-settler division has been responsible for conflagration and souring relations between ethnic groups involved in the other conflicts mentioned above. The problematic of all these claims and counter claims by different ethnic nationalities across Nigeria is that it pitched one ethnic or sub-ethnic group against another. These inter- and intra-ethnic wars have led to colossal losses of lives and properties in the country, even more so since 1999 when the country returned to civil rule (Imobighe, 2003: 1; Omotola, 2006: 748). Most significantly, this development has induced a debate articulated on broader questions such as: Who is an ‘indigene’? Who is a ‘settler’? Why should certain groups be qualified as ‘settlers’ in certain parts of Nigeria? Who really is a Nigerian citizen? What rights should a Nigerian citizen enjoy? Should such rights be enjoyed in one location and be denied in another part of the country? What is the position of the 1999 Constitution on the issue of citizenship rights in Nigeria? Using the Tiv-Jukun ethnic conflict as a reference case, the paper assesses the unsettled question of citizenship evoked by the ‘indigene-settler’ syndrome. It examines how the issue of citizenship rights has fuelled and prolonged the Tiv-Jukun conflict in particular and other similar conflicts in general. This paper is a descriptive analysis based on qualitative data obtained from field research interviews1 as well as data acquired from secondary sources.
OVERVIEW OF THE TIV-JUKUN ETHNIC CONFLICT The Tiv and Jukun ethnic groups have had relationship...