The country's ethnically diverse population consisted of more than 250 groups. Many were concentrated geographically and spoke distinct primary
languages. Three major groups--Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba--jointly constituted approximately half the population. Members of all ethnic groups practiced ethnic discrimination, particularly in private-sector hiring patterns and the segregation of urban neighborhoods. A long history of tension existed between some ethnic groups.
Many groups complained of insufficient representation in government.
The law prohibits ethnic discrimination by the government, but claims of marginalization continued, particularly by members of southern groups and Igbos. Ethnic groups of the Niger Delta continued their calls for senior representation on petroleum agencies and committees and within security forces.
The constitution requires that the government have a "national character," meaning that cabinet and other high-level positions are distributed to persons representing each of the 36 states, or each of the six geopolitical regions. Traditional relationships were used to pressure government officials to favor particular ethnic groups in the distribution of important positions and other patronage.
All citizens have the right to live in any part of the country, but state and local governments frequently discriminated against ethnic groups not indigenous to their areas, occasionally compelling individuals to return to a region where their ethnic group originated but to which they no longer had personal ties. The government sometimes compelled nonindigenous persons to move by threats, discrimination in hiring and employment, or destruction of their homes. Those who chose to stay sometimes experienced further discrimination, including denial of scholarships and exclusion from employment in the civil service, police, and military.
For example, in Plateau State, the predominantly Muslim and nonindigenous Hausa and Fulani faced significant discrimination from the local government in land ownership, jobs, access to education, scholarships, and government representation.
Religious differences often mirrored regional, ethnic, and occupational differences. For example, in many areas of the Middle Belt, Muslim Fulani tended to
be pastoralists, while the Muslim Hausa and Christian Igbo and other ethnic groups tended to be farmers or work in urban areas. Consequently, ethnic, regional, economic, and land use competition often correlated with religious differences between the competing groups.
Incidents of communal violence between ethnic groups in the Middle Belt, also divided along Christian-Muslim lines, resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, the displacement of thousands of persons, and widespread property destruction.
Ethnoreligious violence, often triggered by disputes between farmers and herders, resulted in numerous deaths and significant displacement during the year. The most deadly examples of such conflict occurred in Jos and the farmland surrounding the city. In January as many as 100 persons were killed in violence that followed the 2010 Christmas bombings in Jos that killed and injured Christians, and in clashes between Christian and Hausa Fulani youths and the STF around the University of Jos. HRW estimated that more than 200 persons, both Muslim and Christian, died in reprisals and counterreprisals, which continued throughout the year.
Land disputes, ethnic differences, settler-indigene tensions, and religious affiliation all contributed to these attacks. Determining motives behind any single attack remained difficult. "Silent killings" occurred throughout the year, in which individuals disappeared and later were found dead. Reprisal attacks at
night in which assailants targeted and attacked individual homes or communities occurred frequently. For example, on September 4, unknown assailants killed a family of eight, including a four-month-old baby, during the night in a village outside of Jos. In late August at the end of Ramadan, a dispute between Muslim and Christian youths over the location to hold Eid prayers led to violence in and around Jos that resulted in the death of up to 100 Muslims and Christians. Authorities did not convict any perpetrators of such violence during the year or those involved in attacks by Muslim Fulani herders in March 2010 that left 700 persons dead.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Jos Crisis delivered its report in August 2010. The report contained recommendations regarding land ownership, indigeneship, the creation of new local government areas, the establishment of a culture of nonviolence, the problem of youth unemployment, and community sensitization. Authorities had not implemented these recommendations by year's end. Ethnic groups cited economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and government indifference as their major problems in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. Incidents of ethnic conflict and confrontation with government officials and forces continued in the Niger Delta area (see section 1 .g.).
Conflicts over land rights continued among members of the Tiv, Kwalla, Jukun, and Azara ethnic groups living near the convergence of Nassarawa, Benue, and Taraba states.