The city of Kaduna is the capital of Kaduna State in northern Nigeria, which is majority Muslim in contrast to the predominantly Christian south. It is home to many important institutes of higher education, and its economy centres mainly around the textile and automobile manufacturing industries. In 2000, Kaduna made international headlines when the state government proposed introducing Sharia law, sparking violent protests between Christians and Muslims that left 2,000 dead and over 10,000 injured. Following the spasm of violence, the city became bitterly divided along sectarian lines. Violence flared again in 2002, as a result of which some important and innovative reforms were instituted. Known as the Kaduna Compromise, the shar’ia criminal code is applied only to Muslims, and a tripartite court system of secular, traditional and Islamic courts offer judicial access across the religious spectrum. This system has been used as a model for other Nigerian states grappling with religious divisions. Since 2009, the greatest threat to Kaduna has come from Boko Haram, which has been attempting to trigger clashes between Christians and Muslims through a campaign of violence targeting government institutions, churches and schools. A 24-hour curfew that was imposed by the state in response to a wave of bombings by Boko Haram – including a bombing of the UN office in Nigeria’s capital Abuja – was not fully relaxed until August 2012. The government is implementing a security policy that hinges on increasing internal military campaigns, rather than bolstering police interventions, and has had success in targeting Boko Haram leadership. Recently, the Nigerian government also initiated peace talks that led to a ceasefire, which was announced in October 2014. However, fresh kidnappings of young women in the north east of the country, as well as an explosion in neighbouring Bauchi state that killed five people, have called the negotiations into question. [Source: ]


Kaduna is the capital of Kaduna State, Nigeria. The city is situated on the Kaduna River, the main tributary of the Niger River, and is home to many crocodiles, which give the city its name – “Kada” is the Hausa word for crocodiles. The British founded Kaduna as a military headquarters as early as 1907, and the city quickly became a political, commercial, and industrial hub and later the capital of the now obsolete Northern Nigeria Protectorate.

With an estimated population of 1.3 million people, the city is unique for its rapid urbanization, which has contributed to the diversity and integration of residents that diverges from the typical segregation between settler and indigenous, which is prevalent in other Nigerian cities. Nonetheless, the city has been the site of considerable religious tension between Muslims, constituting roughly 60 percent of residents and Christians, constituting roughly 40 percent.

The demographics of Kaduna reflect the broader picture in Nigeria. Modern day Nigeria is the product of the British unification of the majority Muslim north and majority Christian south under one administrative area in 1914; however, the south had long benefited from disproportionate educational and economic development and opportunity. These imbalances continue to influence current politics; however, Nigeria has attempted to mitigate sectarian politics through multiple processes of state formation to give ethnic groups more autonomy and to group states into zones that allow the rotation of offices across the spectrum of ethnic groups.

Although once the centre of a flourishing textile industry, Kaduna’s factories have all but closed due to neglect during periods of military rule, and more recently, competition from Chinese imports. According to a 2009 World Bank study, 20 percent of Nigerians are unemployed, and Kaduna ranks among the top six cities with the highest unemployment. Currently, the economy of Kaduna centres primarily on textile and automobile manufacturing; and a pipeline delivers oil from the Niger Delta to the oil refinery and petrochemical plant, important employers in a city with high unemployment. Kaduna state is the home of many important institutes of higher education including Kaduna Polytechnic, Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna State University, and Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, and the Nigerian Military Training College – the only Nigerian military institute that trains officers in the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

In 2000, the city of Kaduna made international headlines when the state government announced the proposed introduction of shari’a law, sparking violent protests between Christians and Muslims that left 2000 dead, over 10,000 injured, and approximately 60,000 displaced in clashes during February and May of that year. Over 2000 properties were destroyed, including 170 churches and mosques, and Kaduna city became bitterly segregated between a Muslim north and Christian south.

In 2002, Kaduna experienced another bout of violence in response to a controversial newspaper article suggesting that the Prophet Mohammed would have approved of the planned Miss World pageant. During the three days of attacks and reprisal killings that became known as the “Miss World Riots,” 250 people were killed and nearly 30,000 fled the city.

As a result of this violence, the Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Makarfi instituted several important reforms known as the Kaduna compromise, which has provided a model for other Nigerian states. Under these reforms, the shari’a criminal code is applied only to Muslims, and a tripartite court system of secular, traditional, and Islamic courts offers judicial access across the religious spectrum. In addition, religious and traditional leaders still have considerable influence in the community and often assist in mediation efforts. The Kaduna compromise further ensured that Christians have state-recognized leaders among their constituencies to support the facilitation of the peaceful resolution of conflict.

Since 2009, the greatest threat to peace in Kaduna has been from the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, which has targeted police stations and other government buildings, churches and schools, ostensibly in an attempt to trigger clashes between Christians and Muslims. It has been especially active around Kaduna and other cities in northeastern Nigeria. The group also elicited international attention in 2011 when it bombed the United Nations office in Abuja. Subsequently, the group bombed several cities across the country in its Christmas Day attacks and in June bombed a church in Kaduna, sparking weeks of clashes between Muslims and Christians across the state. The state did not fully relax its 24-hour curfew until August 2012. Boko Haram has reportedly killed thousands of people since it began its nationwide insurgency in 2009. In response, civil society has remained somewhat disengaged from the issue. Meanwhile, the government is implementing a security policy that hinges on increasing internal military campaigns, rather than on bolstering police interventions. The state government has been particularly effective at targeting the Boko Haram leadership. Nonetheless, attacks persist and general law and order remains precarious.

Most recently, the Nigerian government, as well as concerned regional and national groups have initiated peace talks with certain sects of Boko Haram, although confirmation of these negotiations is contested. Such groups include the Northern Elders Forum, Borno Elders Forum, Northern Governors Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum and Civil Society Organisations such as the Interfaith Mediation Centre. It was recently discovered that the Boko Haram has other splinter groups. Concerned regional and national groups have ventured into negotiation with the Boko Haram leaders.

In 2015, Boko Haram, long thought to have links with Al Qaeda, pledged support publicly to The Islamic State. While unsurprising, as Boko Haram’s propaganda mirrored that of Islamic State, this move was seen as a major boost for Islamic State.  Today, Boko Haram is split into two distinct jihadist factions, with opposing modus operandi. The larger more sophisticated group, The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), has positioned itself as a long-term threat based around Lake Chad, while Boko Haram’s long term leader Abubakar Shekau continues to rule under the groups former name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) in Borno state’s Sambisa Forest. 

The escalating crisis in Kaduna has been enflamed further by multi-layered grievances. A lack of development, political exclusion, diminishing influence of tribal leaders, declining educational and employment opportunities, arms proliferation, struggles for territory and resources to name a few. Violence in the name of religion is widespread while kidnappings of individuals and large groups have become common place. 

Climate change itself has had a massive impact on Kaduna forcing the mainly Christian farmers and predominantly Muslim cattle herders, into dangerous increased proximity. As the grasslands in Northern Nigeria disappear, cattle herders are venturing into the densely-populated farming areas to the south. As Nigeria’s population has rapidly expanded so have the fields that the farmers use. Frequently as land is encroached and produce eaten by herds, conflicts easily ensue. Some feel that this farmer-herder conflict is the most serious conflict facing Nigeria and Kaduna’s Governor, Nasir El-Rufai. According to Amnesty International, this violence alone has claimed nearly 3.500 lives in Nigeria. In 2018, the National Livestock Transformation Plan was devised to modernise herding and create large ranches as a way to ease the growing land struggles. 

The fragile security in Nigeria is a serious concern. Set to become the world’s third most populous country by 2050 more still needs to be done to stamp out Boko Haram and the far-reaching conflict between farmers and herders which has the potential to directly affect the food security in Kaduna and beyond.