Women are streaming home from Boko Haram’s domain in north-eastern Nigeria, some having escaped captivity and others having left jihadist husbands behind. The state should safeguard these women from abuse, so that they stay in government-held areas and encourage men to come back as well.
Boko Haram (BH) kept up attacks in north east, banditry persisted in north west, standoff continued between govt and Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and Biafra separatists threatened more attacks on ethnic Igbo leaders. In north-eastern Borno state, clashes continued between security forces and BH as insurgents attacked civilian and military targets closer to state capital, Maiduguri. Air force 9 Aug said it destroyed major BH base at Izza. Insurgents, mostly from BH faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), 10 Aug attacked army base in Gubio, killed four soldiers and at least six civilians, lost eleven fighters; ambushed soldiers in Mogula 17 Aug killing four and in Dikwa area 20 Aug killing five; 22 Aug razed govt buildings in Gubio and Magumeri areas; 30 Aug killed at least three soldiers on Monguno-Maiduguri highway, army said troops killed “countless” insurgents. In north west, Zamfara state govt continued peace talks between bandits and communities, but violence continued. In adjoining Katsina state, bandits 18 Aug attacked four villages in Jibia, Danmusa and Safana areas, killed seventeen civilians; 26-27 Aug sacked Wurma community abducting about 50. In Kaduna state, gunmen 29 Aug attacked Kiri, killing eight. In central Benue state, feud between ethnic Ikurav and Shitile left nine dead 17 Aug. Court 5 Aug approved request by IMN leader Sheikh Zakzaky and wife to travel to India for medical care, but arrangement collapsed after Zakzaky in India 15 Aug protested against Nigerian and Indian govts restricting his movement and denying him access to trusted doctors. Authorities detained Zakzaky and wife on their return 16 Aug. Invoking govt’s 30 July ban on group, federal police 30 Aug ordered special team to dismantle all IMN structures and arrest group’s leaders. Members of separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Nuremberg, Germany 17 Aug assaulted Senator Ike Ekweremadu at Igbo community event. IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu 18 Aug offered reward to anyone who provides information that could enable attacks on ‘‘treacherous’’ Igbo leaders.
Three years after Boko Haram broke apart, one faction, the Islamic State in West Africa Province, is forming a proto-state in northern Nigeria. The state should press its military offensive against the jihadists but also try undercutting their appeal by improving governance and public services.
Nigerian elections are high-stakes affairs often marred by street clashes and worse. As the 2019 contests approach, the risk of disturbances is particularly high in six states. The government and its foreign partners can limit campaign-related violence by enhancing security and promoting dialogue among rivals.
Rising conflict between herders and farmers in Nigeria is already six times deadlier in 2018 than Boko Haram’s insurgency. To stop the bloodshed, the federal government should improve security; end impunity for assailants; and hasten livestock sector reform. State governments should freeze open grazing bans.
Four years after the abductions in Chibok, and months after more kidnappings in Dapchi, over 100 schoolgirls are still missing. Nigeria must act to make schools safe – beefing up security, learning from past mistakes and, ultimately, working to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
Propelled by desertification, insecurity and the loss of grazing land to expanding settlements, the southward migration of Nigeria’s herders is causing violent competition over land with local farmers. To prevent the crisis from escalating, the government should strengthen security for herders and farmers, implement conflict resolution mechanisms and establish grazing reserves.
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 challenges.
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] in the first place.
The fact that some of the recent attacks [in Nigeria] specifically targeted military bases shows they were deliberate, not opportunistic.
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.
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].
In late 2018 Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Gender Azadeh Moaveni went to north-east Nigeria, which has been the epicenter of the fight between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military, to explore how effectively women formerly associated with the group have been rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society.
In northeastern Nigeria, the militant group exploits a broken social system. There are lessons here for the rest of the world.
Originally published in The Guardian
Crisis Group’s third update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on economic reforms in Libya, preserving the fragile quiet in Syria’s Idlib province, addressing the plight of civilians in eastern Ukraine, supporting Colombia's uneasy peace process and averting violence in Nigeria's upcoming elections. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.
As election preparations get underway in Nigeria, conflict and insecurity in many parts of the country risk exacerbating intercommunal tensions and preventing a peaceful transfer of power. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018 annual early-warning update for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its members states to remain fully engaged during the election in order to curb violence and strengthen the country’s democratic institutions.