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JSPES, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring 2013)
pp. 55-79

Killing in the Name of God? Explaining the Boko Haram Phenomenon in Nigeria

Benjamin Maiangwa

United Nations University, Institute for Sustainability and Peace, Tokyo

Since attaining independence in 1960, Nigeria has suffered intense cases of sectarian skirmishes resulting in massive casualties. At least 18,000 lives have been lost in hundreds of violent incidents sparked by various ethnic, religious, and political groups since the 1980s. In more recent times, the situation has been exacerbated by Boko Haram – an emerging terrorist sect – which has mounted waves of deadly bomb attacks strategically directed at a cross section of public spaces. Given this predicament, scores of articles, commentaries, and newspaper reports on the issue have erroneously misinterpreted the uprising as merely another form of religious violence, or at least as a vendetta against Christians in Nigeria. But, as this paper will argue, Boko Haram terrorism is primarily a political reaction to bad governance, organized under the cloak of religion..