Pyrex Journal of Political Science and International Relations (PJPSIR)

April 2016 Vol. 2(1), pp. 27-34

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Full Length Research Paper

Democratic practice and development of ethnic militias in Nigeria

Odoma U. Samuel

Department of Sociology, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria.

Corresponding Author E-mail:

Accepted 25 April, 2016


Nigeria embarked on third experimentation of democracy in 1999 after the failure to sustain the earlier adoption in 1960 and 1979. As a form of government popularly considered best for mankind, democracy is marked by a set of principles that differentiate it from other forms of government. Such peculiar principles include among others, governance by rules, government by majority, freedom to make choice from alternatives, periodic elections, majority rule and minority rights, defined rights and obligation of citizens etc. The enjoyment of fundamental rights and the attendant obligations work out restraints to individual and group excesses. However, the adoption of democracy in Nigeria since 29 May, 1999 seems to have encouraged the development of ethnic militias in several parts. These groups which visibly capitalize on the rights that democracy confers developed and exhibited sub-cultural norms that threaten the rights of other citizens. Adopting the Merton's Anomic, Sutherland's Differential Association and Boundless' Relative Deprivation theories as foundation, this paper seeks to answer questions such as: What democratic value encouraged the emergence of ethnic militias in Nigeria? Does ethnic militancy enhance the deepening of democratic norms? Why were these militia groups not known before the adoption of democracy in 1999? Is democracy consistent with unbounded freedom? The paper proffers a return to conventional norms of democracy, emphasizing obligations as well as the fundamental rights and sincerity of purpose as the solutions to the practice of adulterated model of democracy in Nigeria.

Keywords: Democracy, Ethnic, Government, Militia, Principles, Rights.

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