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.
Electoral violence continued to disrupt campaign for 2023 polls, while jihadist, criminal and separatist groups demonstrated resilience amid military operations on multiple fronts.
Political violence persisted ahead of early 2023 general elections. Authorities 11 Nov reported 52 cases of electoral violence since campaign started on 28 Sept. Notably, unidentified assailants 8 Nov reportedly attacked convoy of opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in Borno state capital Maiduguri, leaving at least one dead and 70 injured; PDP blamed attack on ruling All Progressives Congress.
Criminal and other violence ran high in North West and North Central zones. Kidnapping for ransom remained widespread, notably in Zamfara state: gunmen 7 Nov kidnapped 50 people in Bukkuyum area; 20 Nov raided four villages in Zurmi and Maradun areas, reportedly abducting over 100; 23 Nov kidnapped at least 60 people in Kaura Namoda area. Govt forces throughout Nov continued land and air operations, notably carrying out aerial assaults on armed groups’ enclaves in Birnin Gwari, Chikun and Giwa areas of Kaduna state. Meanwhile, intercommunal violence 7-9 Nov killed at least 28 people in Addo area, Benue state; farmer-herder clashes 14 Nov killed dozen people in Bokkos area, Plateau state.
Jihadists launched deadly attacks in North East zone despite security operations. In Borno state, Boko Haram (BH) operatives 10-12 Nov reportedly killed at least 26 women accused of witchcraft near Gwoza town; suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants overnight 18-19 Nov launched complex attack on Malam Fatori town and army base, killing 11 security forces and unconfirmed number of civilians. Large-scale counter-insurgency operations continued in Borno: army airstrike 5 Nov reportedly killed 15 ISWAP combatants in Bolowa village, 16-17 Nov killed about 16 BH fighters near Banki town.
Biafra separatist agitation and criminal violence persisted in South East. Notably, gunmen 12 Nov attacked military checkpoint at Isuofia town in Aguata area of Anambra state, killing two soldiers; 19 Nov killed three policemen in Agbani town, Nkanu West area of Enugu state. In Imo state, troops allegedly searching for Biafra separatists 3 Nov raided Amangwu town in Ohafia area; locals alleged soldiers killed about ten people.
The persistent targeting of schools in [Kaduna] suggests the armed groups may be trying to break the state government’s resolve not to pay ransom to criminal groups.
The [Nigerian] military [has] yet to achieve decisive results against the insurgents in the northeast and various armed groups in the northwest.
Les gouverneurs locaux [au Nigéria] insistent pour dire qu’aucune rançon n’a jamais été versée, mais c’est très difficile à croire.
Massive unemployment [in Nigeria] has created a growing army of unemployed youth, vulnerable to recruitment in the criminal industry.
Stakes are high for Nigeria and the region. A vote marred in controversy and violence inevitably would hinder efforts to address the country’s security and economic chall...
While ending the insurgency and countering the militants’ appeal is obviously vital, it is also essential to recognise what precisely has guided women to join [Boko Haram...
Vigilantes have become so important to protecting the Nigerian public that for now the country has little choice but to rely on them. Yet there are dangers. Authorities should better regulate these groups, while working to restore citizens’ trust in the police.
An ISIS franchise is tightening its hold on parts of north-eastern Nigeria near Lake Chad. Abuja should enhance its containment strategy, helping rival militants surrender, protecting internally displaced persons and working with neighbouring countries to cut off outside material support for the jihadists.
Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Spring Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Bolivia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ukraine and Yemen.
Nigeria’s North West is sliding deeper into crisis. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to assist Nigeria to bolster its security presence in the North West, spend more on immediate humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and foster local dialogues among herding and farming communities.
Nigeria’s latest plan for curbing herder-farmer conflict is facing obstacles, including staff and funding shortages as well as political opposition. If this initiative fails, there could be more rural violence. Abuja should work with donors to raise both money and awareness of the scheme’s benefits.
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