Vigilantism, State, and Society in Plateau State, Nigeria: A History of Plural Policing (1950 to the present)


Dr. Jimam Timchang Lar

Research Area:


The main focus of this doctoral research is to account for the emergence and continued existence of a plural policing landscape in Plateau state, Nigeria. Consequently, the research seeks to answer three main questions: First, which groups have constituted and still constitute the main actors in a plural policing landscape? In other words what are their origins; how are they structured and internally organised? What are their relationships with the societies/communities they operate in? The second question the research focuses on is how these groups encounter the Nigerian state. Nonstate policing groups operate in different space scenarios, i.e. in areas where state policing is visible and dominant, visible but weak and areas where it is non-existent. The research examines the dynamics that characterise relationships and interactions within a space of plural policing. However, in our case plurality is not strictly defined by focusing on actors, i.e. state vs. non-state; there is a case for understanding how a landscape inhabited by a plurality of actors – who are guided by a plurality of legal codes – creates a plurality of practices. The third key question of this doctoral research seeks to deepen understanding of the effects and impacts of vigilantism and non-state policing: As a phenomenon, what does it create? How have these groups responded to a changing political and social context? Conceptual and analytical underpinnings of this research are derived from two key strands: First, I rely on existing literature on the post-colonial African state with particular focus on the Nigerian context and content, the legacies of its colonial past and the contradictions of its post-colonial history – particularly as it relates to the provision of security – and the maintenance of law and order. Second, I also use varied sources of primary data, mainly research interviews, archival material and observational notes.