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.
Two years after the suicide of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, jihadist factions continue a battle for control of Nigeria’s north east. In this Q&A, Crisis Group assesses the situation and lays out what authorities should do in response.
Violence by diverse armed groups continued in many states, while ruling party consolidated power at state level.
Fighting between rival jihadist groups continued in North East. Clashes between Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants 18 Nov left about 70 dead on Tumbum Ali Island in Marte area, Borno state; security sources said fighting escalated following influx of arms and fighters from Islamic State Sahel Province joining ISWAP. Two trucks loaded with ISWAP militants 26 Nov hit landmine in Marte area, leaving about 50 dead. Meanwhile, also in Borno, Boko Haram combatants 6 Nov killed at least 15 farmers in Mafa area, and ISWAP 18 Nov ambushed Yobe state governor’s convoy on Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, wounding six security personnel.
Armed groups killed and abducted scores in North West. In Sokoto state, gunmen 2-12 Nov attacked villages in Wurno, Rabah and Tangaza areas, killed at least 24 people and abducted unconfirmed number. In Katsina state, armed group 5 Nov attacked Muslim Maulud celebration in Musawa area, killing at least 20 people and abducting others. In Zamfara state, armed group 24 Nov abducted at least 100 people in four villages of Maru area, after residents failed to pay “tax” demanded by group.
Criminal violence and Biafra separatist unrest continued in South East. Abia state govt late Oct discovered over 70 bodies in Umunneochi area, said bodies must be those of kidnapping-for-ransom victims. Gunmen 17 Nov killed two police officers in Ebonyi state capital Abakaliki, 27 Nov killed another two in Ahiazu Mbaise area, Imo state; police blamed armed wing of Indigenous People of Biafra separatist group.
Ruling party consolidated power at state level. President Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress (APC) won two of three governorship elections held 11 Nov. APC also made major gains through election petitions: Appeal Court in capital Abuja 16-19 Nov annulled opposition’s victory in March 2023 governorship elections in Zamfara state, Kano and Plateau states; 23 Nov reversed election petition tribunal’s verdict sacking Nasarawa state APC governor, upholding his re-election. APC now controls 22 of country’s 36 states.
We must take these [Nigerian presidential elections] polls with a generous amount of salt.The poll samples are small and focusing on literate people.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May, following an election dogged by legal challenges. With a weaker mandate than any of his predecessors, the new leader should take steps to reunite a fractured country facing numerous other problems.
In this online event, Crisis Group experts explore possible scenarios of the forthcoming Nigeria general elections.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Crisis Group’s trustee, Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist Ayo Obe, and Crisis Group's Senior Adviser Nnamdi Obasi, about Nigeria’s forthcoming elections, held amid deteriorating security and a currency crisis.
The largest, most youthful electorate in Nigerian history will head to the polls soon to decide high-stakes presidential, parliamentary and state-level races. Numerous violent incidents have already marred the campaign. Authorities can take several steps to lessen the dangers before, during and after the vote.
Authorities are keen to return or resettle the millions of people who fled homes in Borno state, the epicentre of fighting with Islamist militants in north-eastern Nigeria. But risks abound. The government should slow down its effort, focusing on protecting the displaced from further harm.
Nigeria’s forthcoming general elections, with four presidential candidates of note, will be hard fought. In this Q&A, Crisis Group outlines what is at stake and how key actors are preparing for the polls.
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.
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