CONTESTED TERRAIN: ECONOmIC mIgRATION, ISlAmIC ShARIA lAw AND EThNO-RElIgIOuS CONflICT IN NIgRIA
The paper contends that ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria are affected by migration, and by the political context of belief in the country. This type of conflict emerges where ethnic/geographical and religious distinctions coincide. These distinctions in Nigeria's pluralistic society have been heightened by economic or labor migration, especially by Christian Southerners moving to the core muslim areas in the North. This scenario has been the primary cause of recurring inter-ethnic conflict throughout the history of Nigeria's nationhood. This precarious situation has worsened recently, with the promulgation of Sharia law in the North. This new move takes Sharia away from its constitutional and historical domain in customary law in the North, and places it in the criminal/civil law domain. Although this move seems motivated by the political dynamism of contemporary Nigeria, and by politicians' quest for popularity, experience so far shows that it is the harbinger of future ethno-religious conflict in the country. Also, the recent Sharia law, apart from its politi - cal undertones, is a potent tool for restricting economic migration. Therefore, the state should rise above rhetoric and impressive but unenforced strategies of national integration, and mediate to enforce the secularity of the Nigerian nation.