Nigeria became independent from British rule in 1960, but remained a member of the British Commonwealth. British Cameroon was incorporated into the state a year later, and adopted the name Federal Republic of Nigeria. Since then, Nigeria has come to be marked by divisions between the Muslim North and the Christian and Animist South as well as inter-ethnic tensions. Alternating between civilian and military rule since the 1960s, political liberalisation was ushered in with the return of civilian rule again in 1999. However inter-ethnic tensions heightened in Nigeria and a vast number of non-state armed conflicts erupted in the 2000s. In 2009 violent clashes broke out in northern Nigeria between security forces and the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram but abated when the group's leader was killed. The group resurfaced in late 2010 and over the next two years the conflict escalated. The war received wide international media coverage after the abduction of nearly 300 school girls, sparking global outrage and inspiring the movement #BringBackOurGirls.

Another conflict, over land in Nigeria's Middle Belt, between predominantly Christian farmers and mainly Muslim Fulani nomads, also continues at war level.

Peace attempts

In an effort to end Boko Haram's violent activities in Nigeria and Cameroon, the states France, Niger, Chad, Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon participated in an international summit in May, 2014 and agreed upon an action plan. This included the strengthening of cross-border intelligence, the intensification of mutual border controls, and the establishment of a Multinational Joint Task Force, which deployed a 1,700-strong contingent in November, 2014.

Nigeria’s recent elections (March, 2015), in which opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari won over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, were closely watched by the international community, and declared democratic by the UN.

Also in Nigeria, four peace agreements were signed throughout 2014 between militants of the Fulani tribe and pastoralist communities, but none of the accords were successful in curbing violence between the groups.