n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - Re-engineering the ethics of land, space and territorial acquisition as strategies for resolving Nigerian civil conflicts

Volume 1, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950


Previous studies on both theoretical and practical approaches to resolving territorially induced civil conflicts in Nigeria have paid little or no attention to religious methods of preventing, managing and resolving conflict as an integral part of the conflict and peace discourse in Africa. This study fills this gap by invoking and re-engineering the ethics of land, space and territorial acquisition as strategies for resolving territorially induced civil conflicts in Nigeria. This is premised on the religious maxim that the whole earth is of God and, therefore, all human beings deserve an equal share of the world's natural resources such as land, metals, oil, and coal to mention a few. This validates the principle of equality, which suggests that all persons have an equal moral worth and natural rights to occupy and live in any given territory without hindrance from any quarter. Ethics, which has its basis in the religious and mythological accounts of origins of land calls for land restitution, compensation, redistribution and re-sharing as essentials in addressing the territorially induced conflicts in Nigeria. This is premised on the notion that religion gives meaning and purpose to our understanding of who we are and how we come to occupy the territories in which we find ourselves. This is exemplified in the various faiths connected with civil conflicts.

The study employed the historical method for data collection on selected conflicts such as the Modakeke/Ife, Niger Delta, Jos and Tiv/Junkun conflicts ascases. It was anchored on the functional theory of religion with attention given to the history of the methods in religious traditions, the procedures involved, and their weaknesses and strengths in terms of meeting the global requirements of justice, reconciliation and legal principles. The proposed religious approaches were reviewed with the grey areas in the methods pointed out and recommendations made towards the integration of these methods into modern techniques of conflict resolution and peace building. This took cognisance of the challenges of religious pluralism and social changes brought about by secularisation and globalisation.
Because civil conflicts have a cultural flavour garbed in religious dogma, it is our hope that this study would help improve modern conflict handling styles and peace building mechanisms from a religious perspective. This is possible because religion has the capacity to counteract the conflict and exploitation of differences inherent in territorial differences by emphasising those dimensions of human commonality that should bind people together.

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