Country Report on Terrorism 2020 - Chapter 1 - Nigeria

Overview:  Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa continued attacks against government and security forces and civilians in the Northeast, which resulted in deaths, injuries, abductions, and the capture and destruction of property.  Boko Haram attacks did not discriminate between civilians and government officials, whereas ISIS-WA generally, but not always, focused attacks on government and security forces.  The implementation of the Nigerian military’s “super camp” strategy, which began in 2019, was designed to stem losses when terrorists overran forward-operating bases.  As a defensive military strategy, the decision to consolidate the posture into super camps is working.  However, Boko Haram and ISIS-WA have exploited the military’s inability to patrol open space outside the super camps to abduct aid workers, attack humanitarian operations hubs, and degrade security along roads.  The deteriorating security environment has worsened conditions for civilians and further constrained relief operations in northeastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram and ISIS-WA carried out hundreds of attacks in Nigeria using small arms, captured military equipment, detonated IEDs (including person borne, vehicle borne, animal borne, and implanted), engaged in ambushes, operated illicit checkpoints and taxation systems, conducted kidnappings, and perpetrated executions.

Nigeria worked with affected neighbors in the Lake Chad Basin under the MNJTF to counter Boko Haram and ISIS-WA.  Boko Haram and ISIS-WA continued to enjoy nearly complete freedom of movement throughout Borno State and eastern Yobe State.  To date, terrorist actions by Boko Haram and ISIS-WA have contributed to the internal displacement of about two million people in the states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, and the external displacement of more than 300,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries, principally Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.  According to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign, since the abduction of 276 students by Boko Haram from Chibok, Borno State, in 2014, 112 students remained missing at the end of 2020.  BBOG organizers note that while most of the 113 students abducted from Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018 had been released, one student remains in the custody of insurgents.

Nigeria is a member of the TSCTP.  The United States restarted coordination with the Nigerian military at the Nigerian Defense Intelligence Agency’s (NDIA’s) Joint Intelligence Fusion Center.  Coordination is being led through the U.S. Department of State-funded Military Intelligence Advisor.  Engagements had been stymied because of COVID-19 mitigation measures.  However, the Military Intelligence Advisor arrived in October and has made significant progress within a brief period.  The Nigeria Defense Intelligence Agency has given the advisor significant access to the NDIA and asked that the advisor help build the capability of the Joint Intelligence Fusion Center and establish the AFRICOM-donated Africa Data Sharing Network.

2020 Terrorist Incidents:  The following list details only a fraction of the terrorist incidents that occurred in 2020:

  • On June 13, ISIS-WA fighters attacked the town of Monguno, killing at least 20 people, wounding at least 40 others, and destroying military vehicles before being driven off by Nigerian troops and aircraft.
  • Also on June 13, ISIS-WA fighters shot 38 persons and set a truck ablaze with passengers inside in Goni Usmanti, Nganzai Local Government Area.  Nganzai LGA is about 37 miles away from Monguno town.
  • On August 18, ISIS-WA elements riding in at least 20 trucks entered Kukawa town, where 500 the Borno State government had resettled 500 IDPs on August 10, and attacked security forces there, abducting more than 100 people, including an unknown number of recent returnees.
  • On November 28, Boko Haram massacred farmers in the fields near the villages of Koshobe and Zabarmari, Jere Local Government Area, Borno State, killing more than 100 people.
  • On December 24 and December 26, Boko Haram killed 20 people and abducted 12 others in attacks in six villages of Borno and Adamawa State.  The attackers burned down churches, schools, and police stations and looted hospital pharmacies and shops.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There were no changes to Nigeria’s CT legal framework in 2020.  The draft Terrorism Prohibition and Prevention Bill of 2017 bill lapsed at the close of the 2018 National Assembly and must still be reintroduced.

The Nigerian government continued to participate in U.S. capacity-building programs and to work with the FBI to investigate specific terrorism matters, predominantly through Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS).  The Nigerian government has cooperated with the United States and other international partners to prevent further acts of terrorism in Nigeria.

The Office of the National Security Advisor is responsible for coordinating all security and enforcement agencies, including the DSS, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), the Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), which has a Counterterrorism Unit and Terrorist Investigation Branch.  Border security responsibilities are shared among the NPF, the DSS, the NSCDC, Customs, Immigration, and the Nigerian military.  Coordination among agencies was limited.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Nigeria is a member of GIABA.  Nigeria’s Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) was readmitted to the Egmont Group in 2018 after implementation of a law that made the NFIU independent of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a change that intends to make the NFIU more effective at combating money-laundering and corruption.  Nigeria is still seeking FATF membership and has been working toward meeting its requirements.  The NFIU, the EFCC, the Central Bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other regulators in the financial services industry are collaborating to identify and freeze terrorist assets in Nigeria.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The government continued its disarmament, deradicalization, and reintegration initiative, Operation Safe Corridor, aimed at identifying and reintegrating former low-threat supporters of terrorist organizations.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Nigeria continued high-level participation in regional security and CT conferences.  Nigeria is a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and co-chairs with Switzerland the GCTF’s Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group.  On November 10, Nigeria co-hosted with the United States a meeting of the Global Defeat-ISIS Coalition on ISIS threats in West Africa.  Nigeria was a pilot country of the International Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism Capacity Building Clearinghouse Mechanism, an online database under the GCTF to identify and de-conflict gaps in CT and CVE programming.  Nigeria also is an International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law Board Member.