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Halting the Deepening Turmoil in Nigeria’s North West
Halting the Deepening Turmoil in Nigeria’s North West
Report 196 / Africa

制止尼日利亚的暴力(一):乔斯危机

执行摘要

自2001年以来,地处尼日利亚中间地带的高原州首府乔斯市爆发了暴力冲突。从表面上看,冲突的焦点是原住民比罗姆人/阿纳古塔人/阿非兹人(Berom/Anaguta/Afizere,BAA)与豪萨-富拉尼(Hausa-Fulani)定居者之间关于土地、权力和资源的“权利”之争。原住民与定居者之间的冲突在尼日利亚不是一个新问题,但是该国目前正在发生广泛的种族冲突,这对中间地带有着重要的影响。尼日利亚原本想要通过修宪,让基础广泛的公民身份优先于独有的原住民身份,并保证公民权利由居住地而非原住民身份决定。但是修宪的努力失败了,结果导致了乔斯危机。原住民与定居者之间的冲突继续破坏着安全形势,修改宪法是化解冲突的重要一步。修宪的同时必须立即采取措施,查明并起诉在乔斯或者其它地方的施暴者。要想结束族群冲突,本地、州和联邦的精英分子也必须始终如一地采取措施,旨在减少民族归属感和获取资源、权力和安全这二者之间的危险联结。

原住民原则意味着一些群体控制了其所在州的权力和资源或者是当地政府所在区(local government areas,LGAs)的权力和资源,而其他人——因各种原因迁徙至此的外地人——则被排除在外。这不但引发了民众的不满,还带来了激烈的政治竞争,而这些竞争又往往会导致暴力事件的发生。原住民原则在1960年国家独立时获得了宪法效力,以保护少数族裔不被人口更多的豪萨-富拉尼族、伊博族(Igbo)和约鲁巴族(Yoruba)所支配,并保存他们的文化和政治身份以及传统的治理制度。宗教是一个相关的但却是次要的因素,会加深潜在的紧张局势,多年来也具有愈加重要的意义,尤其是自1999年5月恢复民主以来更是如此。以民族动员和暴力为特征的激烈而不受管制的政治竞争,再加上不善的治理、政府对经济控制的放宽以及猖獗的腐败,已经严重加剧了种族之间、宗教之间和地区之间的分裂。国家公民的观念似乎已经被种族和血统所取代。

高原州的定居者和原住民之间的冲突从未间断过,反映出BAA(其中包括一小部分穆斯林)仍然对豪萨-富拉尼族心怀不满,认为他们被豪萨-富拉尼族当成了二等公民来对待,这种不满情绪由来已久。以穆斯林主的远北地区曾企图征服以基督徒为主的中间地带,遭到了后者的顽强抵抗,这段历史让中间地带极富盛名,中间地带的人们对没有正常公民权的体会比其它任何地区都要深刻。BAA的政治企图是拧转所谓的历史压迫者对他们的歧视,而夺回他们作为高原州原住民的权利是贯穿此政治企图的主基调。相反,豪萨-富拉尼族声称他们才是乔斯真正的原住民,而不是BAA;在最大的LGA区乔斯北部,他们虽然是人口最多的族群,但却无法获得权力和资源,对此他们也心存不满。

由于定居者几乎全是穆斯林,而原住民则主要是基督徒,关于土地所有权、经济资源和政治控制权的斗争往往不仅限于种族方面,还体现在宗教方面。在所有的定居者中,只有豪萨-富拉尼族要求得到对乔斯的所有权,这使得冲突加剧。随着暴力的一再发生,空间上的两极分化和隔离加剧了社会和政治分歧;人们更加意识到地方的团结和忠诚,也更加愿意表达这种情绪。

自2010年年底以来,针对教堂和安全目标发生了恐怖袭击和自杀式炸弹袭击,乔斯的安全局势进一步恶化。这些袭击的犯罪嫌疑人是伊斯兰组织博科圣地的激进分子,该组织曾在北部掀起了一场前所未有的恐怖袭击浪潮。在2010年年底以来的袭击中,已有数千人被杀害,成千上万的民众在国内流离失所,数十亿美元的财产被毁坏。

到目前为止,地方和国家当局的大多数应对措施已被证明是无效的。这些应对措施分为三种。第一,任命一些司法调查委员会调查“危机的根源”并提出“持久的解决方案”的建议。但是当局却迟迟未能发布相关的调查报告,也没有及时根据委员会的建议行事。口气强硬的公开演讲并没有被转化为切实的针对煽动者和肇事者的政治行动:委员会提出的嫌疑人没有一个被起诉,有罪不罚的现象则继续成为暴力活动的温床。

第二种应对措施是出动警察和采取军事行动,这并没有取得什么成功。安全部队不仅无法在其内部之间共享情报,而且还涉嫌偏袒冲突的某一方,一些士兵还被指控贩卖枪支来获利。第三种措施是彩虹行动(Operation Rainbow,OR),这是自2010年6月以来联邦政府和高原州政府联合发起的一项行动,并得到了联合国发展计划署(UNDP)的支持。它被认为是一项全面应对危机的措施。彩虹行动仍然处于起步阶段,它看起来似乎会发挥作用,但前提条件是该行动至少能赢得冲突双方的信心。当局应当在基层对该行动进行宣传,以此来获得人民的认可。

高原州的危机既需要国家也需要地方采取措施来解决。宪法条款中关于获得公民权利的内容在“原住民”(宪法并未对该词给出一个令人满意的定义)和“居留”这两个词上含糊不清,这对澄清当前局势几乎没有起到什么作用。目前尼日利亚关于其公民权(或者国民)问题的构想和执行存在不足和缺陷。解决这个问题的出路在于国民议会,首先要就这个问题举行全国性的公众听证会,然后通过召集一次全民公决或者是通过议会本身,用更具包容性的居留条款取代现有的原住民原则,以解决定居者和原住民之间的歧视和不平等问题,同时,有意识地立即采取步骤来缓和少数民族的担忧。

在州一级的层面,现任高原州政府应改变其执政方式。如果只是使用权力为原住民群体服务的话,这届州政府不可能再继续执政下去。高原州政府应当效法索科托州政府,在国家宪法改革出台之前就废除教育和就业领域中存在于原住民和定居者之间的歧视性政策。否则,政治分歧将变得更为严重,不幸的民众将遭受更多痛苦,州的发展——以及不可避免地,国家的发展——将会受到损害。

达喀尔⁄布鲁塞尔,2012年12月17日

Commentary / Africa

Halting the Deepening Turmoil in Nigeria’s North West

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 North West is sliding deeper into crisis. Criminal gangs, some of which started out as ethnic militias or vigilante groups, have proliferated in the region. These gangs are gaining in strength – adding recruits, arming themselves more heavily and carrying out far more audacious attacks on both civilian and military targets than they were a few years ago. The humanitarian and economic costs are enormous. As security deteriorates, jihadist groups linked to the Boko Haram insurgency that erupted in 2011 in north-eastern Nigeria are also expanding their reach into the North West. The crisis risks spilling over into neighbouring Niger.

Although Nigeria’s government has repeatedly vowed to curb bloodshed, its military response has been inadequate. It has made little progress toward resolving the herder-farmer conflict that is at the root of the violence and little effort to alleviate deepening human misery in the region. It urgently needs to develop strategies that can contain armed groups and ease the humanitarian crisis in the North West, while expediting plans to promote peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers. Given the government’s resource and capacity deficits, international partners can do much to help.

The EU and its member states should assist the Nigerian government to:

  • Bolster its security presence in the North West by providing security forces with logistics and communications equipment, as well as reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering tools needed to locate gangs hiding in forests and prevent their attacks, while making such assistance subject to appropriate human rights vetting. The EU can also help the government tighten Nigeria’s borders by offering training and equipment that would improve its security agencies’ capacity to stem the influx of illicit firearms and foreign jihadists. It can further help the establishment and effective operations of the newly created National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
  • Increase financial allocations to roll out immediate humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in the region and others affected by the mayhem, particularly women who have been widowed, sexually abused or who have lost their livelihoods.
  • Support those initiatives and organisations working to foster local dialogues among herding and farming communities, as well as different ethnic and religious groups, and accelerate implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which aims to improve relations between herders and farmers by building ranches and rehabilitating grazing reserves in states that have endorsed the plan.

Rising Violence

The causes of the North West’s turmoil are complex and inter-related. Environmental degradation caused by the twin pressures of climate change and rapid population growth has aggravated resource competition between herders and farmers. Disputes over land and water prompted both herders and farmers to form armed self-defence groups, fuelling a cycle of retaliatory violence that has taken on a communal dimension. The herders are predominantly ethnic Fulani, while the farmers are mainly Hausa or from other ethnic groups. In some areas, particularly in the southern part of Kaduna state, these tensions are compounded by long-running animosity among the predominantly Muslim Fulani and Hausa, and smaller, largely Christian groups.

The emergence of criminal gangs, whom the Nigerian government and mass media call “bandits”, has aggravated an already precarious security situation.

The emergence of criminal gangs, whom the Nigerian government and mass media call “bandits”, has aggravated an already precarious security situation. Some of these gangs started as herder-allied groups but now operate autonomously. Many are exclusively or predominantly Fulani, while others are ethnically diverse. Some have recruits from neighbouring Benin and Niger as well as countries as far away as Sudan. Most members are illiterate. Aided by the flow of illicit firearms and hard drugs across Nigeria’s poorly secured borders, these gangs, often storming villages on hundreds of motorcycles, engage in a range of criminal activities, from cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom to extortion, sexual assault and armed robbery of gold miners and traders. Most gangs have taken refuge in the region’s vast woodlands – sometimes hidden in caves or mountainous terrain – including Kamuku forest in Kaduna state, Falgore forest in Kano state, Dansadau forest in Zamfara state and Davin Rugu forest, which straddles the states of Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara.

The gangs lack centralised leadership structures and are sometimes locked in bitter rivalries with one another. Some gang leaders claim they resorted to crime because successive federal or state governments neglected the welfare of the pastoralist Fulani or because security forces and vigilante groups formed by various communities abused them. Such claims may have merit in some cases, but in most they appear to be self-serving excuses for illicit profit seeking.

The gangs are continually evolving. Having originated in Zamfara state, they have since spread to all neighbouring states – Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto – and are growing in number and size. They are staging ever more mass abductions of students and other citizens in order to extract ransom payments from parents, families, communities or state governments, kidnapping over 700 schoolchildren and killing six between December 2020 and April 2021. But gang violence is no longer limited to hit-and-run attacks. In April, Muhammad Awaisu Wana, chairman of Niger Concerned Citizens, a civil society group, reported that armed groups had taken control of ten of fifteen wards in the Shiroro local government area of Niger state. Similar reports from Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina indicate that the gangs have established a permanent presence in parts of these states.

Gangs are also scaling up their weaponry, acquiring general-purpose machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, a prominent Muslim cleric who met several gang leaders in January, said they planned to buy anti-aircraft missiles to repel the Nigerian military’s aerial attacks. Gumi said: “What is currently happening … is insurgency and not banditry”. In April, gunmen stormed two military barracks in Niger state, killing at least seven soldiers; other assailants killed at least nine police officers in Kebbi state.

Rampant insecurity appears to be an opportunity for jihadists to extend their influence in the region by forging alliances with other armed groups.

Rampant insecurity appears to be an opportunity for jihadists to extend their influence in the region by forging alliances with other armed groups. A spike in jihadist activity in the North West raises the prospect that the region could soon become a land bridge connecting Islamist rebels in the central Sahel with the decade-old insurgency in the Lake Chad region of north-eastern Nigeria. Security sources point to a resurgence of the long-dormant Boko Haram splinter group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Group of Partisans for Muslims in Black Africa), better known as Ansaru, which was active in north-western Nigeria between 2011 and 2014. Elements of other Boko Haram offshoots, notably the Islamic State in West Africa Province, are arriving in the area.

At the same time, a poorly secured international boundary enables the influx of arms and facilitates the movement of jihadists to and from the Sahel, where local Islamic State affiliates have been expanding their influence. Moreover, as Crisis Group reported recently, organised banditry is spreading to neighbouring Niger’s south-western border strip between the towns of Maradi and Dogondoutchi.

The Growing Humanitarian Crisis

The violence is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the North West, which already has some of Nigeria’s highest levels of displacement, poverty, malnutrition and disease. The civil society organisation Global Rights reports that 1,527 people were killed by criminal and other armed violence in the North West in 2020, higher than the number (1,508) reportedly killed by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. In Kaduna state, the government reports that in the first three months of 2021, armed groups killed 323 people (compared to 628 in all of 2020) and kidnapped 949 others. The UN estimates that 279,000 people were displaced in Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina by the end of 2020, and that almost 2.6 million people across the three states are facing food insecurity in 2021.

Poverty is rising across the region. Gangs deny farmers access to their fields unless they pay levies, often making it impossible for them to plant or harvest crops. In Katsina state, Governor Aminu Masari said farmers have abandoned over 50,000 hectares of land in 2020. Amid the surge of kidnappings, ransom demands have forced many families – and sometimes entire communities – to sell property and take on debt. Some rural communities have agreed to pay taxes to armed groups to avoid attacks, an arrangement that further impoverishes residents.

Women have been disproportionately affected. Hundreds have been killed in attacks on their villages in recent years. Thousands have been widowed, leading to an increase in the number of single-income households. The violence has forced thousands more to flee their homes, abandoning farms, livestock and trades, thus losing sources of income. As gangs destroy markets and loot shops and warehouses, they cut off access to credit for many small-scale female traders. Wealthier business owners have also slashed their trade volumes in order to avoid travelling to suppliers on the region’s increasingly dangerous roads. Sexual violence is widespread. Having lost their livelihoods, some women have resorted to street begging or sex work so as to survive.

Furthermore, the violence poses a serious threat to education in the North West and Nigeria more broadly. Since December 2020, authorities shut down hundreds of schools across seven states – Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara – until better security arrangements are in place or the risk of mass abductions lowers. The use of some schools’ premises as displaced persons’ camps is also disrupting learning. Lower enrolment and attendance, resulting from insecurity, could add to Nigeria’s population of out-of-school children, already estimated at over 10 million and among the highest in the world.

Even more worryingly, the crisis is eroding the government’s capacity to perform certain core functions. On 5 May, citing the insecurity in the North West, the federal House of Representatives asked the National Population Commission to postpone the 2021 census until the situation improves. General elections scheduled for February 2023 may also prove impossible to organise in parts of the North West.

The Faltering Response

The Nigerian government lacks the personnel and resources to tackle the insecurity in the North West. Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s repeated pledges to crush the armed groups, as well as police and military operations that have killed hundreds of gang members since 2015, attacks continue. The faltering federal response is fuelling conspiracy theories that some government officials may be complicit in, or even profiting from, the violence.

The Nigerian government lacks the personnel and resources to tackle the insecurity in the North West.

Security forces are stretched woefully thin across the region. In Niger state, the governor complained that there are only 4,000 police to protect 24 million citizens (a dismal ratio of one police officer per 6,000 citizens). In March, the emir (Muslim traditional ruler) of Anka, in Zamfara state, reported that “we have less than 5,000 security men fighting over 30,000 bandits”. The federal government, however, has undertaken no major recruitment campaigns for security personnel in several years.

A dearth of equipment further constrains security operations. In January, the Katsina state government secretary, Mustapha Inuwa, recalled an occasion where “about 292 army officers were brought for a particular operation with only four vehicles”. Residents report that troops have sometimes fled combat against the gangs after running out of ammunition. The equipment deficit is only partly due to resource constraints. Inertia in Abuja is also at play. In January, the Niger state governor complained that, three months after his government had procured drones to track armed groups, they had still not been delivered due to delays in documentation, including the procurement of end user certificates, from federal authorities.

Peace deals between state governments and gang leaders have yielded few results.

Peace deals between state governments and gang leaders have yielded few results. In mid-2019, the governors of Katsina, Sokoto, Niger and Zamfara states offered unconditional amnesties, rehabilitation and other incentives as a means of wooing the gangs to release hostages and disarm. These agreements led attacks to decline through the second half of the year. Disarmament stalled, however, for several reasons including possible bad faith by some actors, competition among groups and the failure of authorities to foster Hausa-Fulani reconciliation. Some armed groups that were not involved in the talks turned against those that agreed to negotiate. Many criminal gangs, oblivious of the peace agreements or perceiving them as a sign of government weakness, simply carried on their violent activities. The Zamfara state governor claims that his peace efforts are working despite continuing violence, but the others have since conceded defeat and terminated negotiations.

The humanitarian response has been insufficient. The federal government has made little effort to provide internally displaced persons (IDP) with food, water, emergency shelters or sanitary facilities, and its Humanitarian Response Plan for 2021 makes no mention of the crisis in the North West. Meanwhile, there are few international agencies on the ground, although the International Organization for Migration is documenting some of the displacement and the need for aid.

A Role for the EU and Its Member States

The Nigerian government needs considerable assistance in reversing the slide in the North West. On 23 March, the governors of three North West states – Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara – visited the EU delegation in Abuja, soliciting help. Together with its member states, the EU could render support in at least three areas.

A first priority is security support to the Nigerian government. The EU and its member states could assist Nigeria’s security agencies with logistics and communication facilities to help protect rural dwellers and respond more effectively to early warnings and distress calls. As most armed groups are hiding in forests, the EU could provide the military with reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering equipment to help apprehend them, making all such assistance subject to appropriate human rights vetting. Furthermore, the EU and its member states can help the Nigerian government secure the country’s borders by offering better training and equipment to strengthen customs and immigration agencies’ capacity to stem the flow of illicit firearms and foreign jihadists, and also by helping the Department of State Services improve intelligence gathering around border communities and target networks bringing firearms into the region. They can also support the full establishment and operations of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, created by the government on 3 May, as part of efforts to curb illicit firearms in the country and improve regional cooperation in arresting the transnational flow of firearms.

Secondly, the EU and its member states should help ease the humanitarian crisis. Beyond providing direct aid to the thousands of IDPs living in poorly run camps, they could help the Nigerian government survey the numerous displaced who have found refuge in cities and villages. Many victims of abduction, women and children especially, though released, remain at risk of exploitation, trafficking and gender-based violence. The EU and its member states could focus on the establishment and expansion of special community-based counselling and rehabilitation programs, providing women and children victims with physical and psycho-social support that could help reduce their vulnerability to such risks. The European Commission’s announcement, on 11 May, that it would allocate €37 million for humanitarian relief to vulnerable populations in Nigeria in 2021 is a step in the right direction. In making distributions from this fund, the EU should consider the critical needs in the North West.

Thirdly, the EU and its member states should lend greater support to measures aimed at curbing herder-farmer tensions. In the short term, they should provide assistance to various initiatives by state governments, communities and civil society organisations promoting dialogue and peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers, and also among different ethnic and religious groups. Looking ahead, they should offer technical and financial support to state governments seeking to implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which represents Nigeria’s most comprehensive strategy yet to encourage pastoralists to switch to ranching and other sedentary livestock production systems. Modernising the livestock sector is key to resolving the herder-farmer conflict, which triggered the crisis in the North West in the first place – and now threatens Nigeria’s political stability and food security.