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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

Deteriorated Situation

Security forces continued to clash with Boko Haram (BH) militants in Borno state in north east, as herder-farmer violence and rural banditry spiralled, with about 500 killed overall. Army 1 April repelled BH attacks on base and two villages near Borno state capital Maiduguri, thirteen insurgents, thirteen villagers and one soldier killed. Army 7 April killed three insurgents and freed 149 captives at BH hideout in Yerimari Kura. Army 8 April hit BH at Arege and Tumbun Rago. Army 13 April killed seven BH fleeing Sambisa forest. Cameroonian soldiers and local vigilantes of Zigague in Cameroon 18 April attacked BH cell in Dougouma in Nigeria, killing four fighters. Army 20 April repelled BH insurgents in Gamboru Ngala area, killing one. BH 22 April shot dead eighteen forest workers near Gamboru; vehicle same day hit mine planted by BH near Wumbi village, three civilians killed. BH 26 April attacked Jidari Polo area of Maiduguri, repelled by army, nine people including five suicide bombers killed. Herder-farmer violence and related attacks on sedentary farming communities continued in five states; over twenty incidents reported with over 350 people killed, mostly in Benue and Nasarawa states, including 24 April killing of at least eighteen people, including two Catholic priests, at church in Mbalom village, Benue state, which drew Christian protests. Federal parliament 25 April called on govt to sack military and intelligence chiefs for incompetence. Rural banditry continued, especially in Zamfara and Kaduna states. In Zamfara state, army 4 April killed 21 suspected bandits in Tunga Daji village, two soldiers killed; suspected bandits 11 April stormed Kuru-Kuru and Jarkuka villages, killing 26; suspected cattle thieves 19 April attacked Kabaro and Danmami villages, killing at least 27. Suspected bandits 5 April attacked Sarari village, Kaduna state, killing at least five. In federal capital Abuja, police 16-17 April forcibly dispersed Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) rallies demanding release of its leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, one IMN member reportedly killed. Kaduna state govt 18 April filed more charges against El-Zakzaky.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
9 Oct 2017
The decision to start the trials [in Nigeria of more than 1,600 people suspected of ties with Boko Haram] is a response to persistent complaints by local and international human rights groups over thousands of [detained] persons. Reuters

Nnamdi Obasi

Senior Adviser, Nigeria
5 Oct 2017
[The borderlands between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are] becoming a new permanent hotbed of violence. This shows the level of organisation of these [insurgent] groups and also their confidence. Reuters

Rinaldo Depagne

Project Director, West Africa

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