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Nigeria is confronted by multiple security challenges, notably the resilient Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the north east, long-running discontent and militancy in the Niger Delta, increasing violence between herders and farming communities spreading from the central belt southward, and separatist Biafra agitation in the Igbo south east. Violence, particularly by the Boko Haram insurgency, has displaced more than two million people, created a massive humanitarian crisis, and prompted the rise of civilian vigilante self-defence groups that pose new policy dilemmas and possible security risks. Crisis Group seeks to help the Nigerian government by shedding new light on the country’s security challenges, de-escalating risks and tension, and encouraging regional and gender-specific approaches toward ending the violence durably.

CrisisWatch Nigeria

Unchanged Situation

Despite military operations, Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks on civilians and military in north east and banditry-related insecurity persisted in north west, as politicians jostled for position ahead of 2019 elections. In Borno state in north east, five BH suicide bombers killed themselves 5 Aug trying to enter suburb of state capital Maiduguri; militants killed 30 civilians and reportedly seventeen soldiers 6-19 Aug; attacked army base at Zari 30 Aug, reportedly killing 30 soldiers; army dismissed report as BH propaganda. In Adamawa state, suicide bombers killed at least ten in Madagali 11 Aug. After more than three years fighting BH, soldiers 12 Aug blocked entrances to Maiduguri airport and shot in air to protest length of deployment without relief. Herder-farmer attacks decreased amid sustained military deployment, but violence continued: army said troops fought armed herders in Benue and Nasarawa states 4 and 18 Aug, killing 21; troops also raided camp of gang leader Terwase Akwaza in Benue state, killing unspecified number. In Plateau state, gunmen 28-29 Aug killed eight people, burnt 95 houses and stole 310 cows in Barkin Ladi local govt area. Insecurity related to cattle rustling and rural banditry continued in north west as military stepped up counter operations. In Zamfara state, army 17 Aug said soldiers clashed with bandits in Kwuyambana forest, five bandits and one soldier killed; air force 18 Aug said it had recovered weapons and ammunition after bombing bandits’ hideouts in Shamashale village and Rugu forest. Army 16 Aug said soldiers killed five bandits in Birnin Gawri area, Kaduna state. Air force 23 Aug reported airstrikes in Daji Bawar and Sunke villages, Zamfara state killed 30 bandits. Ahead of 2019 general elections, political manoeuvring intensified. After Senate President Bukola Saraki – along with three state governors and over 40 federal legislators – defected from ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), masked operatives of domestic intelligence agency (DSS) 7 Aug temporarily prevented lawmakers from entering National Assembly complex, motives unclear. With President Buhari on ten-day “medical vacation” in UK, Acting President Osinbajo same day dismissed intelligence agency chief.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

24 Jul 2018
Jihadist groups present since the 2012 crisis in Mali exploited local unrest and the weak presence of the state in northern Mali to launch cross-border attacks against the Nigerien army... Despite direct support from Chadian troops since 2015 and closer collaboration with the Nigerian army, Nigerien forces have been unable to fully secure the border with Nigeria from attacks, including some linked to the Islamic State. Voice of America

Hannah Armstrong

Senior Consultant, Sahel
25 Jun 2018
More people to feed means more agricultural settlement and less available land and water for herders. All of this tend to trigger more and more disputes [between farmers and semi-nomadic herders in Nigeria]. Reuters

Rinaldo Depagne

Project Director, West Africa
9 Apr 2018
Given the [Nigerian] government’s continuing inability to impose its own solution to the conflict [with Boko Haram] ... the government’s exploration of dialogue [with] the insurgents is understandable. Anadolu Agency

Nnamdi Obasi

Senior Adviser, Nigeria
23 Feb 2018
The Dapchi incident [in Nigeria] is a major setback for hopes and expectations for a conclusive release of the remaining Chibok girls and all others still held by Boko Haram. Reuters

Nnamdi Obasi

Senior Adviser, Nigeria
9 Feb 2018
Les forces armées tendent à employer la méthode forte et cela peut exacerber les conflits [au Nigeria] et créer de nouveaux problèmes de droits humains et de relation militaires/civils. RFI

Nnamdi Obasi

Senior Adviser, Nigeria
12 Dec 2017
In the last five years we've had a huge increase in the number of incidents [in Nigeria], the number of casualties and the bitterness that goes with it. In many areas it's like a no man's land. NPR

Nnamdi Obasi

Senior Adviser, Nigeria

Latest Updates

Watch List 2017 – Second Update

Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2017 includes entries on Nigeria, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. These early-warning publications identify conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Commentary / Africa

Nigeria: Growing Insecurity on Multiple Fronts

While Nigeria confronts the humanitarian fallout of the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency and simmering separatism in the South East, crucial reforms have been stalled. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Second Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to encourage the government to prioritise engagement with regional leaders and other stakeholders.  

Op-Ed / Africa

Nigeria: How To Solve A Problem Like Biafra

Many Igbo feel politically and economically marginalised, and the government’s hardline stance is not helping.

Originally published in African Arguments

Briefing / Africa

Instruments of Pain (IV): The Food Crisis in North East Nigeria

Five million people are hit by the humanitarian fallout of the Boko Haram insurgency. Beyond ending the war, this briefing, the last of four examining famine threats in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia, urges donors to fund their UN aid pledges in full and the Nigerian government to step up relief for its citizens.

Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: New Challenges for the European Union

Despite suffering significant blows in Syria and Iraq, jihadist movements across the Middle East, North Africa and Lake Chad regions continue to pose significant challenges. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to prioritise conflict prevention at the heart of their counter-terrorism policy and continue investment in vulnerable states.

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Nnamdi Obasi

Senior Adviser, Nigeria