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Undocumented citizens and the making of ID documents in Nigeria: an ethnography of the politics of suspicion in Jos

Abstract : For 40 years, Nigeria has separated its citizens into two categories, ‘indigenes’ and ‘non-indigenes’. Indigene citizens can trace their genealogical roots back to a community in a locality. All local governments (LGs) in Nigeria issue certificates of indigene, which give access to the job market and university. This issuance of certificate of indigene has received scant academic attention despite the centrality of the indigeneity issue in Nigeria. In the two last decades, issuing certificates has become part of the political tensions and mass violence in Plateau State (Jos) as politicians and bureaucrats have transformed certificates to exclude most of the population from the local citizenship. Through an ethnographic approach, this article explores how a politics of suspicion can contribute to the growing literature on legal identification. Focusing on local authorities helps in understanding the centrality of suspicion in the making of new undocumented citizens which are not minority groups (foreigners, migrants and asylum seekers) usually targeted by national authorities. The complicated procedures to get certificates and the production of fake ones are an outcome of this politics of suspicion. The article also shows that a locally paper-based bureaucracy could expand at the same time as—and while being disconnected from—biometric identification.
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https://hal-sciencespo.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03431358
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 4:10:45 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:43:28 AM

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Laurent Fourchard. Undocumented citizens and the making of ID documents in Nigeria: an ethnography of the politics of suspicion in Jos. African Affairs, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021, 120 (481), pp.511-541. ⟨10.1093/afraf/adab022⟩. ⟨hal-03431358⟩

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