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.
Authorities beefed up security in federal capital Abuja and economic capital Lagos as jihadist, criminal and separatist violence continued in several regions. In North East, govt forces continued operations against Boko Haram (BH) and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Notably, in Borno state, airstrike 3 Aug killed key ISWAP commander, Alhaji Modu, in Gwoza area; military operations 11-25 Aug reportedly killed about 50 insurgents, including two senior BH and ISWAP commanders, in Sambisa forest and Lake Chad area. Military said 3,407 insurgents and their families 28 July-25 Aug surrendered to govt forces. ISWAP 8 Aug however attacked Auno security checkpoint, 24km from Borno capital Maiduguri, renewing fears that units may still be lurking around city. In Taraba state (also North East zone), unidentified gunmen 12 Aug invaded Karekuka village; fight with residents left at least 19 dead. Govt forces stepped up operations in North West and North Central zones amid violence by criminal groups and jihadists. Notably in North West, air force 6 Aug struck armed groups’ enclaves in Katsina state’s Safana area, killing prominent group leader. Military 13-18 Aug raided armed groups’ camps in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna states, killing unspecified number, including wanted group leader, Sojan Madagwal, in Zamfara. In North Central zone, air force 13-18 Aug bombed armed groups’ camps in Shiroro area of Niger state, reportedly killing alleged BH leader Aminu Duniya. Following attacks in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in July, FCT administration early Aug firmed up security in Abuja and troops 13 Aug raided armed group camps in Dei-Dei and Gwagwalada areas, arresting eight. In South West, Lagos police late July-early Aug placed city’s units on high alert amid fear of attacks by jihadist groups. Insecurity in South East, which security forces blame on secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra’s armed wing, continued. In Imo state, gunmen 1 Aug killed seven security guards at Orogwe town in Owerri West area, and 5 Aug attacked Agwa police station in Oguta area, killing four police. Explosive device 21 Aug killed army major in Ihiala area, Anambra state. Security forces 15-21 Aug raided armed groups’ camps in Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi states.
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.