Boko Haram group in Nigeria: religious intolerance and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in perspective

  • Oluwaseun Bamidele


In problematising the motivations behind Boko Haram’s activities against the state, academic debates have remained divided. On the one hand are scholars who attribute the violence of Boko Haram as a fallout of religious intolerance, while on the other hand, others consider the proliferation – or the widespread availability – of small arms and light weapons (SALW) as the vital cause. Either claim, however, is only valid in part, and obscures an holistic understanding of Boko Haram terrorism as a political phenomenon. Using Boko Haram as a case study, this article engages with the body of work drawn from each of the aforementioned paradigms, and highlights the empirical inadequacies in exclusively focusing on either side of the debate. In turn, it suggests that only in the synergy of both paradigms can a broader and more eclectic understanding of all the factors responsible for Boko Haram’s formation and violence be achieved.