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.
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.
Attacks linked to herder-farmer conflict escalated mostly in central-northern states, while Boko Haram (BH) violence in north east and bandit-related clashes in north west continued, resulting in over 400 killed in total. Suspected herders 3 June killed seven and abducted woman in Mbachom, Benue state; 22 June killed 21 in Dowayan village, Demsa area, Adamawa state; attacks and reprisals 21-24 June killed over 200 in Barkin Ladi area, Plateau state. Herder-farmer clash 5 June in Nasarawa local govt area, Nasarawa state, left eleven dead. In north east, security forces reported gains in fight against BH: army 1 June destroyed BH camp in Yaridiri forest, Yobe state; army alongside Cameroonian troops killed ten BH at Ngelkona, Borno state 2 June and at least 23 BH around Lake Chad 11 June; air force 15 June killed dozens of insurgents in Sambisa forest, Borno state. BH continued attacks in Borno state: male suicide bomber 11 June detonated explosives at prayer site in Maiduguri, killing two; two suicide bombings and rocket-propelled grenades, which militants fired into crowds gathered at scene of bombings, 16 June killed at least 31 in Damboa; two female suicide bombers attacked market inside military barracks on outskirts of Maiduguri, killing at least nine. In north west, cattle-rustling gang 1 June attacked Zanuka village, Zamfara state, killing 23; bandits clashed with local vigilantes 9 June at Dan Tasango village, Sokoto state, thirteen killed; bandits 12 June killed at least ten people in attacks on four villages in Birnin Magaji area, Zamfara state; police 29 June found 23 unidentified corpses inside forest in Zurmi area, Zamfara state. In other communal violence, gunmen 1 June killed seven in Okpareke, Kogi state, reportedly in continuation of long-running communal feud; unidentified gunmen 1 June killed at least three in Kura Falls, Plateau state; communities in Izzi area, Ebonyi state and Yala area, Cross River state, clashed 19 June, eleven killed, over 7,000 displaced.
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.
Vigilante groups have been successful in providing local security. But subcontracting security functions to vigilante groups for counter-insurgency purposes is a dangerous option for fragile African states. African leaders should set clear objectives and mandates when enlisting vigilantes and invest in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programs.
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.
Regional armies in the Lake Chad basin deploy vigilantes to sharpen campaigns against Boko Haram insurgents. But using these militias creates risks as combatants turn to communal violence and organised crime. Over the long term they must be disbanded or regulated.
Women have suffered violence and abuse by Boko Haram, but they are not only victims: some joined the jihadists voluntarily, others fight the insurgency, or work in relief and reconciliation. Women’s experiences should inform policies to tackle the insurgency, and facilitate their contribution to peace.
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].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many Igbo feel politically and economically marginalised, and the government’s hardline stance is not helping.
Originally published in African Arguments
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.