Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences
Volume 15, No. 1, 2017
DOI: 10.36108/ijss/7102.51.0160

Religious Extremism and the Boko Haram Phenomenon in Nigeria

Enweremadu, David U. and Njoku, Emeka T.

Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria


The last decade has witnessed significance rise in terrorism related violence in Northern Nigeria. Much of the violence has been driven by the activities of the Jama ‘atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda ‘wati wal Jihad, popularly Known as Boko Haram, an Islamic sect that was established earlier in 1995. Since then, a large amount of scholarly works have been published to explain the emergence of the group. The dominant explanations in these studies have centered on widespread poverty, ignorance, political marginalization and power struggle among Nigerian political elites. Based on an extensive survey of existing literature, this article seeks to disprove those notions. The central argument of this paper is that, the upsurge and persistence of violence by the Boko Haram Islamic sect can largely be attributed to religious extremism. The spread of religious extremism in Nigerian is it-self traced to unfettered spread of foreign ideologies, writings and teachings of Islamic scholars such as Sayyid Qutb, and the Pakistani Islamist, Abdul A’la Mawdudi, which were the ideological foundation behind the Iranian revolution that had a spillover effects in parts of Northern. To ensure sustainable peace, the article suggests that it may be necessary for the Nigerian government to closely monitor the activities of external religious actors and the international spread of fundamentalist religious ideologies and practices in the country before they transform to incubators of violence.
Keywords: Religious extremism, violence, terrorism, Boko Haram


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