Country Report on Terrorism 2017 - Chapter 1 - Nigeria

Overview: Boko Haram and its offshoot, ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), carried out killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in thousands of deaths, injuries, and significant destruction of property.

Nigeria continued to work with other terrorism-affected neighbors in the Multinational Joint Task Force, including Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger to counter-Boko Haram and ISIS-WA, regain control over territory previously held by these groups, and launch efforts to rebuild civilian structures and institutions in cleared areas.

Terrorist activity accounted for the internal displacement of nearly two million persons in the states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, and the external displacement of more than 200,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries, principally Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The Nigerian government negotiated with Boko Haram for the May 6 release of 82 of the 276 female students abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok in 2014. According to the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, 113 students remained missing at the end of 2017.

Nigeria is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

An interdisciplinary assistance team composed of personnel from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development continued to coordinate efforts with the Nigerian military at the Defense Intelligence Agency, with daily military-to-military engagement at the Joint Combined Fusion Cell and the Joint Coordination Planning Committee.

In its response to Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacks, and at times in response to crime and insecurity in general, Nigerian security service personnel perpetrated extrajudicial killings and engaged in torture, sexual exploitation and abuse, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, use of children by some security elements, looting, and destruction of property. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Report on International Religious Freedom for further information

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Boko Haram and ISIS-WA carried out hundreds of attacks in Nigeria using suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne IEDs, raids, ambushes, and kidnappings. The following list details only a fraction of the incidents that occurred:

  • On June 7, suspected Boko Haram militants launched an attack on Maiduguri, Borno State, and engaged Nigerian forces in a gunfight. In coordination, three suicide bombers detonated explosives on civilian targets in the Muna Garage neighborhood of Maiduguri. The attack killed at least 17 civilians and injured 34 others.
  • On July 25, an ISIS-WA attack on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) surveying project resulted in the deaths of at least 69 people. Victims included 19 soldiers, 33 civilian militia, and 17 NNPC and University of Maiduguri staff. Three university faculty were also abducted.
  • On November 21, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated explosives at a mosque in the town of Mubi, in Adamawa State, killing at least 50 people.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Nigeria’s 2011 counterterrorism law was amended in 2013 and was strengthened by the 2014 National Security Strategy and the 2016 National Counter Terrorism Strategy.

The Nigerian Office of the National Security Advisor is responsible on paper for coordinating all security and enforcement agencies. The Nigerian military has primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the Northeast. Several government agencies also perform counterterrorism functions, including the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and the Ministry of Justice. The NPF has a Counterterrorism Unit and a Terrorist Investigation Branch. Both units are responsible for investigating acts of terrorism and conducting proactive measures to prevent terrorist attacks. Interagency cooperation and information sharing was limited. Due to their knowledge of the local context, community-based security groups, often collectively referred to as the Civilian Joint Task Force, provided critical and necessary responses to the terrorism threat in the Northeast.

In October, the Government of Nigeria began closed-door hearings in front of civilian judges for more than 1,600 suspected supporters of Boko Haram and ISIS-WA. According to a government statement, 600 suspects were arraigned in the initial proceedings. Of these, 45 pled guilty to various charges and were sentenced to between three and 31 years in prison, 468 persons were ordered to undergo a de-radicalization and rehabilitation program before being released, 34 cases were dismissed, and 28 cases were remanded for trial in civilian courts elsewhere in the country. Some human rights groups alleged terrorist suspects detained by the military were denied their rights to legal representation, due process, and to be heard by a judicial authority.

On December 8, the government said it adopted a new strategy for the screening of suspected Boko Haram members and other terrorists. This involved developing a national terrorism database and providing training in investigative interviewing techniques and evidence collection.

Border security responsibilities are shared between NPF, NSCDC, Customs, Immigration, and the military. Coordination among agencies was limited.

The Nigerian government continued to participate in U.S. capacity-building programs, worked with the FBI to investigate specific terrorism matters, and provided IED components to the FBI for analysis at the Terrorist Device Analysis Center. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and NPF also received crime scene training relevant to counterterrorism investigations.

In 2017, the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program continued to mentor Nigeria’s explosive ordnance disposal personnel. ATA also delivered a Crisis Intervention Seminar, Senior Leadership Seminar, and an IED awareness seminar in support of Nigeria’s participation in the Flintlock multilateral exercise.

The Nigerian government actively cooperated with the United States and other international partners to assist with counterterrorism investigations. On April 12, Nigeria’s state security agency said it had thwarted plans by terrorists they believed affiliated with Boko Haram to attack the British and U.S. embassies.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nigeria is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. On July 5, the Egmont Group suspended Nigeria for its failure to restructure its financial intelligence unit to make it operationally autonomous and isolated from possible political control, a requirement the Egmont Group places on all of its members. To rectify this deficiency, the Nigerian Senate, in November, passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill. At the end of 2017, this legislation was awaiting passage by the Nigerian House. Additionally, the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill of 2017, amending and strengthening the 2011 Money Laundering Act, was under active review in the Nigerian Senate and House. Other active, but not yet passed, legislation with a nexus to terrorist financing includes the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and the Proceeds of Crime Bill. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): In August, Nigeria, with direct support from the British Department for International Development, adopted a Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. The framework was in accordance with relevant UN policy and developed in coordination with various ministries and civil society organizations. In December, under this framework, the government launched an Action Plan for Demobilization, Disassociation, Reintegration, and Reconciliation in Nigeria. Nigeria is a Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund beneficiary country. Kaduna state and Kano state are members of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: Nigeria continued its high-level participation in regional security and counterterrorism conferences. This included President Buhari’s participation in the Aqaba Conference on countering terrorism and radicalization in West Africa (sponsored by Jordan in December) and the AU-EU Summit held in Cote d’Ivoire in November. Nigeria is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and part of the Security Governance Initiative between the United States and six African partners.