featured topic on Nigeria: Security Situation

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1. Background Information
2. Central Nigeria and Abuja
2.1. Background Information
2.2. Current Situation
3. Northern States (Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa)
3.1. Background Information
3.2. Current Situation
4. Southern Nigeria, Biafra and the Niger Delta
4.1. Background Information
4.2. Current Situation
5. Further Information on the security situation in Nigeria
6. Sources

Please note: In’s English interface, the featured topics are presented in the form of direct quotations from documents. This may lead to non-English language content being quoted. German language translations/summaries of these quotations are available when you switch to’s German language interface.

1. Background Information

“Nigeria ist die größte Volkswirtschaft Afrikas und mit 175 Millionen Einwohnern das bevölkerungsreichste Land des Kontinents. Mit einer jungen, motivierten und wachsenden Bevölkerung, umfangreichen natürlichen Ressourcen, und einer zunehmenden Diversifikation der Wirtschaft ist Nigeria nicht nur eine Regionalmacht, sondern eine an Bedeutung gewinnende Gestaltungsmacht auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent und in der Welt. Das Land steht allerdings vor großen Herausforderungen: Die beachtlichen Erträge aus der Erdölförderung hatten bisher kaum armutsreduzierende Wirkung. Immer noch leben mehr als zwei Drittel der Bevölkerung in extremer Armut und es herrscht hohe Arbeitslosigkeit. Die Förderung nachhaltiger wirtschaftlicher und sozialer Entwicklung wird erschwert durch Korruption sowie die regionalen, ethnischen, religiösen und sozialen Unterschiede und die damit einhergehenden Konflikte, die teilweise in Anschläge und Ausschreitungen münden.” (GIZ, undated)i

“Nigeria ist in 36 Bundesstaaten mit 774 ‚Local Government Areas (LGAs)‘ als kommunale Verwaltungseinheiten und dem Bundesterritorium Abuja - ‚Federal Capital Territory (FCT)‘ - gegliedert. Jeder der 36 Bundesstaaten verfügt über eine Regierung unter der Leitung eines Gouverneurs (State Governor) und über ein Landesparlament (State House of Assembly).“ (GIZ, December 2015)

“Nigeria is a federal republic composed of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In 2010 then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, of the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), assumed the presidency following the death of President Yar’Adua. In 2011 President Jonathan was elected as president to a four-year term, along with Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, also of the PDP.” (USDOS, 25 June 2015, Executive Summary)ii

“Muhammadu Buhari became president in May [2015]” (BBC, 2 October 2015)iii

“Die unabhängige nigerianische Wahlkommission INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) hat am Mittwoch, den 27. Februar 2019, den amtierenden Präsidenten Muhammadu Buhari zum offiziellen Wahlsieger erklärt. […] Dass sich die Sicherheits- und Wirtschaftslage in Nigeria mit der Wiederwahl Buharis grundlegend ändern wird, ist nicht zu erwarten. Buhari ist prinzipiell mit den gleichen Ankündigungen in die Wahl gegangen wie vor vier Jahren. Die Bilanz der ersten Amtszeit ist nicht sonderlich erfolgreich, Impulse für eine Trendwende sind nicht zu erkennen. Es sieht eher nach reinem Machterhalt aus.” (SWP, April 2019, pp. 1-3)iv

“From the outside, conflict dynamics can be bewildering in their complexity, particularly in a country as vast as Nigeria with telescoping fault-lines and polarities. After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in October 1960, the country fell into a civil war that killed over a million people before it finally ended in 1970. Military rule gave way to the Fourth Republic with the election of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. Since then conflict in Nigeria has included an insurgency in the Niger Delta which deescalated in 2009 as a result of an amnesty program for militants, periodic outbreaks of killing in the Middle Belt, and rising levels of violence in the Northeast. In April of 2011, hundreds were killed in post-election violence across the North. Violence ranges from the criminal, to intra-communal, inter-communal, ethnic, sectarian, political, and regional.” (FfP, 21 April 2014)v

“Political life has been scarred by conflict along ethnic, geographic, and religious lines, and corruption and misrule have undermined the state’s authority and legitimacy. Despite extensive petroleum resources, its human development indicators are among the world’s lowest, and a majority of the population faces extreme poverty.” (CRS, 1 February 2019, Summary)vi

“Ethnic and religious strife have been common in Nigeria. Tens of thousands of Nigerians have been killed in sectarian and intercommunal clashes in the past two decades. Ethnic, regional, and sectarian divisions often stem from issues related to access to land, jobs, and socioeconomic development, and are sometimes fueled by politicians. […] The violent Islamist group Boko Haram has contributed to a major deterioration of security conditions in the northeast since 2009. […] In the southern Niger Delta region, local grievances related to oil production in the area have fueled conflict and criminality for decades. Intermittent government negotiations with local militants and an ongoing amnesty program have quieted the region, but attacks on oil installations surged briefly in 2016 and remain a threat to stability and oil production. […] Protests in the Igbo-dominated southeast over perceived marginalization by the government have led to clashes with security forces; […] In the Middle Belt, violent competition for resources between nomadic herders, largely Muslim, and settled farming communities, many of them Christian, has been on the rise in recent years and is spreading into Nigeria’s southern states.” (CRS, 1 February 2019, pp. 1-2)

2. Central Nigeria and Abuja

(States: Adamawa, Benue, Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Taraba)

2.1. Background Information

“Although Nigeria chiefly is known for its oil and gas production, agriculture employs about 70 per cent of its labour force. Small-holders in the country’s centre and south harvest most of the country’s tuber and vegetable crops while pastoralists in the north raise most of its grains and livestock. […] Historically, relations between herders and sedentary farming communities have been harmonious. By and large, they lived in a peaceful, symbiotic relationship: herders’ cattle would fertilise the farmers’ land in exchange for grazing rights. But tensions have grown over the past decade, with increasingly violent flare-ups spreading throughout central and southern states; incidents have occurred in at least 22 of the country’s 36 states.” (ICG, 19 September 2017, p.1)vii

“Plateau state falls on the dividing line between Nigeria's mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north and has witnessed sporadic ethnic and religious tensions for decades. The largely agrarian Christian communities in the state maintain the Muslim Fulani herdsmen are engaged in a prolonged battle to gobble up land from the areas of so-called indigenous people. Fulani leaders counter their people face discrimination as ‘foreigners’ in Plateau and are deprived of basic rights, including access to land, education and political office, despite having lived in the area for generations. Tensions frequently boil over, with more than 10,000 people killed in the state since the turn of the century, according to groups tracking the violence.” (AFP, 17 September 2015)viii

“Sectarian violence continues to be a particular problem in and around the central Nigerian city of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, which sits between the predominately Muslim north and Christian south. Tensions among communities in this culturally diverse “Middle Belt” are both religious and ethnic, and they stem from competition over resources - land, education, government jobs - between ethnic groups classified as settlers or as ‘indigenes’ (original inhabitants of the state), with the latter designation conveying certain political and economic benefits. In Jos, the mostly Christian Berom are considered indigenes, and the predominately Muslim Hausa-Fulani, who were traditionally nomadic and pastoralist, are viewed as the settlers.” (CRS, 15 November 2013, p. 12)

“Violent conflict between largely Muslim Fulani herders and ethnically diverse farmers in predominantly Christian areas has taken on tribal, religious and regional dimensions. Clashes across the central belt and spreading southward, are killing some 2,500 people a year. The conflict is now so deadly that many Nigerians fear it could become as dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency. Escalating internally, the conflict could also spread regionally: herders might seek to draw fighters from their kin in other West and Central African countries, as some Fulani leaders have warned. This in turn could undermine a fragile region already struggling to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents.” (ICG, 20 July 2017)

“Land disputes, competition over dwindling resources, ethnic differences, and settler-indigene tensions contributed to clashes between herdsmen and farmers throughout the north-central part of the country. Ethnocultural and religious affiliation also were factors attributed to some local conflicts. Nevertheless, many international organizations, including International Crisis Group, assessed that these divisions were incidental to the farmer-herder conflict. During the past year, the conflict between herdsmen and farmers in north-central states steadily slowed due to government policies and civil society conflict-resolution mechanisms. ‘Silent killings,’ in which individuals disappeared and later were found dead, occurred throughout the year. Conflicts concerning land rights continued among members of the Tiv, Kwalla, Jukun, Fulani, and Azara ethnic groups living near the convergence of Nasarawa, Benue, and Taraba States.” (USDOS, 11. März 2020, Section 6)

Incidents on conflict between herders and farmers are also covered in the chapter on Northern Nigeria.

2.2. Current Situation

“On March 23, 2020, security forces fired live ammunition and teargas to disperse members of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), who took to the streets in Abuja to protest the detention of their leader Sheik El Zakzaky, who has been detained since 2015. One of the protesters told Human Rights Watch that police officers began shooting live ammunition without any warning as soon as they arrived at the scene and later shot at least three teargas cannisters at the crowd. Two people sustained gun injuries, one on the leg and another on the arm, the protester said. A leader of the IMN in Abuja said at least 10 protesters were arrested and are currently in police custody.” (HRW, 26. März 2020) ix

“In Adamawa state in east, BH 21-22 Feb attacked Garkida town, killing at least three soldiers and several civilians. ISWAP fighters 9 Feb reportedly executed faction leader Idris al-Barnawi and Ba’a Idirisa, son of deceased BH founder Mohammed Yusuf, for allegedly ‘going soft’.” (ICG, March 2020)

“Herder-related violence continued in Plateau state, Middle Belt: suspected herders 9 Feb killed three civilians in Tyana village; 16 Feb killed two soldiers in Barkin Ladi; security forces 18 Feb burnt down Fulani settlement in Barkin Ladi after their two-day ultimatum to deliver 16 Feb attackers expired.” (ICG, March 2020)

“In north east, BH 20 Jan killed local leader of Christian association after abducting him 3 Jan in Adamawa state.” (ICG, February, 2020)

“Violence continued in Middle Belt: 30 killed 1 Jan in Tawari town, Kogi state; twelve killed in Kulben village in clash between cattle rustlers and local youths 9 Jan and 23 killed 27 Jan in Kwatas village, both Plateau state.” (ICG, February, 2020)

“Also in Nigeria — in Taraba state — representatives of Tiv and Jukun ethnic groups agreed on a ceasefire in a peace meeting held in Jalingo by September 26. However, two days later, suspected Jukun militias attacked the Tiv community in Akume village of Taraba, continuing this inter-communal violence that re-emerged since April 2019.” (ACLED, 2 October 2019, p. 2)

“Intercommunal violence persisted in Taraba, Nigeria this week as an unidentified armed group attacked Takum, killing 14 civilians on September 1st. This sparked a reprisal attack by Jukun youth who beheaded five suspected attackers on September 2nd. The attacks come amidst an on-going inter-communal conflict between the Tiv and Jukun in Taraba state. While the groups have a history of conflict, the current crisis erupted in April when clashes broke out between the groups, spurring a cycle of reprisal attacks often targeting civilians. In Borno state, security forces continue to face attacks by Boko Haram, with the IS affiliated Boko Haram killing four security forces during an attack on a military post in Gajiram.” (ACLED, 10 September 2019, pp. 1-2)

“Nigerian police fired apparently unlawfully on a peaceful protest by the Shia Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in the capital, Abuja, on July 22, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. Eleven protesters, a journalist, and a police officer were killed, while dozens of others were wounded or arrested, according to witnesses and authorities.” (HRW, 24 July 2019)

“Violent incidents between farmers and herders resulting in heavy human and material losses and displacements were reported [between 1 January and 30 June 2019] in many states in the Middle Belt and north-east of Nigeria. (UN Security Council, 5 July 2019, pp. 4-5) x

“Inter-communal conflict continued in Wukari this week between the Tiv and Junkun, with Tiv militias killing a reported 20 civilians this week. Beyond a failed peace agreement between the groups, the government has done little to stem these clashes.” (ACLED, 1 July 2019) xi

“Despite the signing of a peace agreement between Tiv and Jukun leaders on June 11th, inter-communal violence persisted this week between the groups in Wukari. A cycle of retaliatory attacks this week resulted in 22 civilian fatalities. The clashes, which began in April, have continued unabated despite the peace agreement. Without a meaningful peace deal and enforcement by security forces, the groups are likely to continue their attacks on the local civilian population.” (ACLED, 25 June 2019)

“Meanwhile, communal violence in Taraba state resulted in the killing of 12 Tiv passengers on a bus near Wukari on June 4th.” (ACLED, 11 June 2019)

“Last week, on April 14th, 16 people were killed at a naming ceremony in the Akwanga area of Nasarawa amid tensions between farmers and pastoralists in the area. A few days later, on April 17th, Fulani pastoralist militias killed 15 people and left three wounded in late night attacks on communities in the Numa area of Adamawa state. And on April 19th, unknown gunmen killed 11 people coming back from Church in Katsila-Ala of Benue state, while 40 others went missing.”(ACLED, 23 April 2019, p. 2)

“On the evening of 18 March 2019, fighters of the terrorist organisation Boko Haram attacked the city of Michika (headquarters of the local government area of the same name, state of Adamawa) and tried to rob a bank located there. They are said to have set the bank and some houses on fire. After extended clashes with the army, the attackers were driven away.“ (BAMF, 25 March 2019, p. 6)xii

3. Northern States (Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa)

(States: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara)

3.1. Background Information

“Boko Haram grew out of a group of radical Islamist youth who worshipped at the Al- Haji Muhammadu Ndimi Mosque in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, in the 1990s. Its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, began as a preacher and leader in the youth wing, Shababul Islam (Islamic Youth Vanguard), of Ahl-Sunnah, a Salafi group. […] Most accounts date the beginning of Boko Haram – its formal Arabic name is Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad) – to 2002, when it began to attract official attention.” (ICG, 3 April 2014, p. 7)

“Initially referred to as the Yusufiyya or Nigerian Taliban and later as Boko Haram, it also rejected all secular authority.” (ICG, 3 April 2014, p. 9)

“[…] the group is more popularly known as Boko Haram (often translated as ‘Western education is forbidden’), a nickname given by local Hausa-speaking communities to describe the group’s view that Western education and culture have been corrupting influences that are haram (‘forbidden’) under its conservative interpretation of Islam.“ (CRS, 29 July 2014, p. 1)

“In 2014 Boko Haram killed more than 4,000 people, although the true figure is almost certainly higher. In the first three months of 2015, Boko Haram fighters killed at least 1,500 civilians. The group bombed civilian targets across Nigeria, raided towns and villages in the north-east and from July 2014 began to capture major towns. By February 2015, it controlled the majority of Borno state, as well as northern Adamawa state and eastern Yobe state. In August 2014, Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, proclaimed this territory to be a caliphate. Tens of thousands of civilians were subjected to Boko Haram’s brutal rule.” (AI, 13 April 2015, p. 3)xiii

“Later, Mr Shekau formally pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS), turning his back on al-Qaeda. IS accepted the pledge, naming the territory under Boko Haram's control as the Islamic State of West Africa Province and as being part of the global caliphate it was trying to establish.” (BBC, 4 May 2015)

“Als Reaktion auf den Treueschwur Boko Harams zum ‚Islamischen Staat‘ starten Nigerias Nachbarländer Tschad und Niger am 8. März eine Militäroffensive auf nigerianischem Boden. […] Grob datiert werden kann die Entstehung der Gruppe auf das Jahr 2002. Sie hat sich in Maiduguri im Norden Nigerias formiert. Ihr Vorgehen war zunächst friedlich. Experten sehen die anfängliche Attraktivität von Boko Haram vor allem in den politischen und sozialen Verhältnissen im Norden Nigerias begründet: Die Gesellschaft ist ethnisch und religiös zersplittert, Armut und Arbeitslosigkeit höher als in anderen Landesteilen. Der Staat kommt seinen Aufgaben nur bedingt nach, die Lokalregierungen sind oft korrupt. Während die Gruppe in den ersten Jahren gewaltlos agierte, radikalisierte sie sich etwa ab 2009 und bekämpft seither aktiv den nigerianischen Staat. […] Der Chef von Boko Haram ist seit 2010 Abubakar Shekau. Er soll in der Stadt Maiduguri aufgewachsen und dort während seines Studiums der islamischen Theologie mit seinem Vorgänger Mohammed Yusuf in Kontakt gekommen sein.” (Die Zeit, updated on 18 November 2015)xiv

“In March 2015, BH [Boko Haram] pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audiotape message. ISIS accepted the group’s pledge and the group began calling itself ISIS-West Africa. In August 2016, ISIS announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was to replace Abubakar Shekau as the new leader of the group. Infighting then led the group to split. Shekau maintains a group of followers and affiliates concentrated primarily in the Sambisa Forest; this faction is known as Boko Haram. The Governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria routinely call both groups Boko Haram, with some differentiation on the ‘Shekau faction’ versus the ‘al-Barnawi faction.’” (USDOS, 19 September 2018)

“Boko Haram overtakes ISIL to become the most deadly terrorist group in the world. Deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 per cent in 2014 to 6,644.“ (IEP, November 2015, p. 4)xv.

“Counterinsurgency efforts are reported to have become more effective following the inauguration in May 2015 of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. By cutting off supply routes and targeting insurgent safe havens, the insurgents were driven from most of the territories they had previously occupied. Following their territorial losses, the insurgents reportedly changed their tactics towards asymmetric warfare, including the use of kidnapping, rape, forced recruitment of children and youth, suicide bombing, and sexual slavery. However, according to analysts a comprehensive military victory is unlikely, and the insurgents continue to pose a considerable security threat.“ (UNHCR, October 2016, p. 1f) xvi

“Boko Haram (BH) and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) continued to conduct attacks against government and security forces in the northeast, which resulted in deaths, injuries, abductions, and the capture and destruction of property. BH attacks did not appear to discriminate between civilians and government officials, whereas ISIS-WA tended to generally focus on government and security forces, while trying to cultivate stronger ties with local communities, including by providing limited social services. Nigeria continued to work with other affected neighbors under the Multinational Joint Task Force to counter-BH and ISIS-WA and regain control over territory. By the end of 2018 however, BH and ISIS-WA enjoyed nearly complete freedom of movement throughout northern Borno State and eastern Yobe State. Human rights groups documented numerous allegations of human rights violations by Nigerian security forces during counterterrorism operations. […] 2018 Terrorist Incidents:  BH and ISIS-WA carried out more than 600 to 700 attacks in Nigeria using small arms, captured military equipment, suicide bombers, IEDs, VBIEDs, ambushes, and kidnappings.” (USDOS, 1 November 2019)

“Boko Haram and ISIS-WA attacked population centers and security personnel in Borno State. Boko Haram also conducted limited attacks in Adamawa, while ISIS-WA attacked targets in Yobe. These groups targeted anyone perceived as disagreeing with the groups’ political or religious beliefs or interfering with their access to resources. While Boko Haram no longer controls as much territory as it once did, the two insurgencies nevertheless maintained the ability to stage forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the Northeast. Both groups carried out infrequent attacks through roadside IEDs. ISIS-WA maintained the ability to carry out effective complex attacks on military positions.” (USDOS, 11. März 2020, Section 1g)

3.2. Current Situation

“Boko Haram (BH) continued to target military in north east, while banditry-related violence persisted in north west leaving over 110 killed. In Borno state in north east, BH insurgents 4 March killed three soldiers in Damboa town near state capital Maiduguri, govt troops repelled attack killing nineteen insurgents; BH insurgents 15 March killed six soldiers in ambush in Banki area; air force 18 March targeted gathering of BH splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) leaders and fighters in Lake Chad area, killing several; military said counter-insurgency operation in Gorgi area killed more than 100 BH including top commander 21-23 March; 29 soldiers also killed; ISWAP militants 28 March ambushed vehicles near Maiduguri killing five. In Yobe state in north east, BH insurgents 23 March killed about 50 soldiers in ambush near Goneri village. In north west, security forces reported further indications of resurgence of long-dormant BH splinter Ansaru. Notably, military 17 March said joint police-air force operation in three villages in Kaduna state killed five Ansaru commanders and twelve bandits. Bandits continued attacks in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states, killing over 110 in March. In Zamfara state, bandits 8 March, attacked Yar Katsina village in Bungudu area, killing eight; 12 March stormed Katsira village in Gusau area, killing eleven vigilantes; 16 March stormed market in Birnin Tsaba village, Birnin Magaji area, killing two vigilantes; suspecting bandits were Fulani, villagers thereafter lynched three Fulani men; bandits 17 March killed sixteen in two villages in Maru area. In Kaduna state, hundreds of bandits 1 March attacked four villages in Igabi area, reportedly killing 51. In Niger state, bandits 22 March attacked security patrol team comprising soldiers, police and civil defence personnel in Shiroro area, killing 29. Air force 31 March attacked bandits’ camp in Pandogari area, Niger state, reportedly killing many.” (ICG, April 2020)

“Boko Haram (BH) insurgency continued in north east, bandit-related violence persisted in north west while security forces launched operations against jihadist group Ansaru, and herder-related violence flared up in Middle Belt and in south. In Borno state in north east, BH factions Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Abubakar Shekau’s group (Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, JAS) continued to attack civilians and security forces despite counter-insurgency operations, and ISWAP fighters reportedly executed faction’s senior commanders. Notably, suspected insurgents 9 Feb killed at least 30 civilians at Auno village, near state capital Maiduguri. Clashes between BH fighters and security forces 10 Feb in Konduga, Magumeri and Kala-Balge areas reportedly left three soldiers, three vigilantes and six insurgent dead. Military reportedly killed ISWAP fighters in Ngala area 4-5 Feb, and BH insurgents in Gwoza area 8 Feb and in Damboa area 9 Feb. […] In north west, bandits carried out several attacks, killing at least 40 people in Kaduna state 3-12 Feb, and 30 civilians in Katsina state 14 Feb; clashes between bandits and vigilantes in Katsina state left 21 dead 27 Feb. Police 5 Feb reported it had raided camp of long-dormant jihadist group Ansaru in Kuduru forest, Kaduna state same day, killing over 250 militants and bandits, and losing two officers; Ansaru claimed 34 police dead. Police 9 Feb said it had arrested eight suspected Ansaru fighters involved in recent violence in Kaduna state.” (ICG, March 2020)

“Two Boko Haram (BH) factions – Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Abubakar Shekau’s group (JAS) – stepped up attacks in north east while in north west jihadist group Ansaru claimed first attack since 2013 as military continued operations against bandits, amid ongoing herder-related and criminal violence in Middle Belt and Niger Delta respectively. […] In Borno state, military 4 Jan repelled BH attack in Konduga area, six insurgents and four soldiers killed. BH 4 Jan killed three civilians in Chibok area. ISWAP claimed responsibility for 7 Jan attack on Monguno town which killed eight soldiers. In apparent attempt to cut off Borno state capital Maiduguri from rest of country, insurgents attacked travellers on road linking Maiduguri to Yobe state capital, Damaturu: 9 Jan abducted seven, 28 Jan killed three others. BH 20 Jan reportedly killed twenty displaced persons and one soldier in Ngala town. Military 12 Jan reported four ISWAP commanders killed in Lake Chad area; air force 27 Jan reported scores of ISWAP fighters killed in same area 24-25 Jan. Suicide bombers 26 Jan killed three in Gwoza town; 30 Jan killed four in Maiduguri outskirts. In north west, army 12 Jan reported anti-banditry operations in Zamfara and Katsina states 16 Dec-9 Jan killed 106 bandits. Bandits killed 31 people in Zamfara state 14-15 Jan and at least twenty in Niger state 5-25 Jan. In Kaduna state, gunmen killed around 35 people 6-12 Jan; long-dormant jihadist group Ansaru claimed 14 Jan attack against prominent traditional chief’s convoy that killed at least six people.” (ICG, February, 2020)

“In Nigeria, Fulani militias raided the town of Karaye in Zamfara State and killed 14 people, including children and women, raising concerns over renewed violence in the area. The Karaye incident is suspected of being a reprisal for the November 3 attack in Yansakai, when nine Fulani pastoralists died. In Borno State, at least eight Nigerian soldiers died in clashes with Boko Haram fighters near Gwoza and Marte, while the air force struck Boko Haram positions around Jubillaram.” (ACLED, 26 November 2019)

“Elsewhere, in Malam Fatori [Borno State], Nigerian military forces and Boko Haram-IS battled for two days.” (ACLED, 19 November 2019, p. 1)

“Until recently, Boko Haram has largely confined its activity to Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State and the eastern border regions with Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. But this week, the group announced its first offensive against the military in Nigeria’s northwestern Sokoto State. The offensive is believed to have killed many Nigerian troops–though the precise number is unknown.” (ACLED, 30 October 2019)

“In Borno state of Nigeria, Boko Haram increased its activity both on civilians and the military forces. On 25 September, a military convoy was ambushed on the Gubio-Maiduguri road of Borno and 14 soldiers were killed. On the same day, the Nigerian army conducted airstrikes against a Boko Haram camp in Kusuma, claiming to have inflicted heavy casualties on the group. However, these battles did not affect Boko Haram’s activities, as in the following days, the group attacked civilians with explosives in Biu, Borno, killing seven people and abducting ten. Another attack followed in Mafa, Borno, where two residents were killed and a local market was burnt down.” (ACLED, 2 October 2019, pp. 1-2)

“Meanwhile, Boko Haram violence continued in Nigeria and Cameroon. In Extreme-Nord region of Cameroon, Boko Haram looted civilian shops while killing nine members of a family in Borno State of Nigeria. Military operations against Boko Haram in Extreme-Nord killed over a dozen Boko Haram members.” (ACLED, 25 September 2019, p. 2)

“In Nigeria, a jump in protests and riots last week coincided with the annual religious rite called Ashura, a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. These demonstrations were led by the Islamic movement and turned highly violent in Katsina, Kaduna, Gombe and Bauchi states. The clashes with intervening police forces resulted with at least several reported fatalities from the demonstrators.” (ACLED, 17 September 2019, p. 2)

“In Borno state, security forces continue to face attacks by Boko Haram, with the ISaffiliated Boko Haram killing four security forces during an attack on a military post in Gajiram” (ACLED, 10 September 2019, p. 2)

“At least 65 people died in an attack by suspected Islamists on a group returning from a funeral in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno region, state television reported on Sunday, one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in recent years. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Boko Haram group and rival Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) splinter group have often carried out attacks in the area.“ (Thomson Reuters, 28 July 2019)

“In Nigeria, the group [Boko Haram] attacked the Dalori IDP camp with gunmen and suicide bombers, before looting goods and burning several structures. On July 27th, the group carried out a particularly deadly attack on a group of mourners, killing at least 23 civilians near the village of Goni Abachari in Nganzai area.” (ACLED, 30 July 2019)

“Violent attacks rose in Katsina, Nigeria this week, with a series of attacks targeting civilians. The attacks began on June 29th, with 10 villages in the Kankara local government area, resulting in 11 fatalities. Three villages in the Dan Musa area were attacked on July 3rd, resulting in 17 fatalities. While it remains unclear who the perpetrators are, the attacks signal an escalation of violence in these areas. Meanwhile, in Zamfara state, military forces launched an offensive against militias this week involving a series of ground battles and airstrikes. In Bawa, military forces killed 10 combatants. Airstrikes were also carried out in the areas of Dumburum and Munhaye, resulting in a reported 30 fatalities.” (ACLED, 9 July 2019)

“In Nigeria, Boko Haram carried out a number of attacks on farmers and local communities in Borno this week, killing 29 civilians. Local communities, particularly farmers in Borno are often subjected to such attacks, as the militants suspect them of cooperating with or providing information to military forces. Meanwhile, in Yobe, the group launched an attack on the military base in Goniri. However, based on intelligence reports, military forces had prepared for the attack and reportedly killed several militants.” (ACLED, 1 July 2019)

“In Nigeria, a triple suicide bombing was carried out in Konduga by Boko Haram on June 16th, resulting in 30 reported fatalities. According to reports, the bombers were children – two girls and one boy – continuing the group’s reliance on women and children for suicide attacks. The attack was the deadliest suicide bombing carried out in the country since June 2018. Military forces carried out a series of operations against ISWAP/Boko Haram camps this week, resulting in 42 fatalities during operations in the Baga area. Beyond the Boko Haram threat, inter-communal conflict continues to undermine security within the country. (ACLED, 25 June 2019)

“Across the border, in Nigeria, IS-backed Boko Haram attacked a military base in Kareto [Borno State] on June 14th. The attack forced the withdrawal of military forces from the base and resulted in one military fatality. The insurgents seized weapons and vehicles from the base. Violence also erupted in the Shiroro area of Niger state, as 62 civilians were killed by an unidentified armed group during attacks on eight villages in the region.” (ACLED, 17 June 2019)

“In Nigeria, the Multi-National Joint Task Force carried out operations against IS-backed Boko Haram this week in the areas of Arege, Malkonory and Tumbun Rego in Borno, resulting in 20 combatant fatalities. Military forces and Boko Haram also clashed in Izge on June 5th. In Zamfara, the community of Kanoma was attacked by a militia, which killed 16 civilians on June 3rd. Two days prior, on June 1st, a Zamfara militia killed eight civilians in the village of Lilo, on the outskirts of Gusau. (ACLED, 11 June 2019)

“In Nigeria, Islamic State-backed Boko Haram (ISWAP) launched a large scale attack on a government-led IDP convoy traveling between Sabon Gari and Damboa in Borno State. The May 26th attack began as an ambush along the rural road, which led to an exchange of gunfire when the army escort who responded. The attackers killed 25, including five soldiers. The Nigerian Army initially denied the attack occurred, though several witnesses confirmed the fatalities. The movement of IDPs here is in preparation for a Boko Haram clearing campaign throughout the Hawul Local Government Area. Elsewhere in Borno, Boko Haram carried out an attack against Bakassi IDP camp in Jere Local Government Area. The perpetrators reportedly caused five civilian fatalities, looted food and supplies. Boko Haram launched a large assault on Maiduguri on May 28th; the assailants were repelled by military forces and local militia groups the following morning. Fatalities have not been confirmed. Overall, the ongoing violence in the north-east – both from insurgency and communal clashes – has caused a displacement crisis.” (ACLED, 4 June 2019)

“Despite counter-terrorism efforts, the “Islamic State West Africa Province” faction of Boko Haram expanded its area of operations over the reporting period [1 January to 30 June 2019]. Boko Haram briefly took control of the city of Rann, in Nigeria, in January. The group continued to use women suicide bombers against civilians and security and defence forces in Borno State. According to the Nigeria Police Force, 189 terrorist attacks were conducted in the northern states of Nigeria from January to April, resulting in 453 deaths and 201 kidnappings. The so-called Islamic State West Africa Province increased the use of suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices against national security forces and the Multinational Joint Task Force in the countries of the Lake Chad basin.” (UN Security Council, 5 July 2019, p. 4)

“In Kajuru and Kachia, in Kaduna State, 117 people were killed and several houses, farms and livestock destroyed. In Zamfara State, armed bandits, cattle rustlers and militia attacks on civilians reportedly resulted in about 497 casualties and 385 kidnappings between January and April. As part of the measures against rising insecurity, the Government of Nigeria launched or scaled up military operations in the affected areas.” (UN Security Council, 5 July 2019, pp. 4-5)

“And in Nigeria, violence flared up again in various states: in Katsina state, unknown gunmen attacked villages and fought with local vigilante militias over April 7-9th, leaving at least 47 people reported killed; in Zamfara state, the Nigerian airforce launched new airstrikes against positions of ‘bandits’ including herders in the forests, leaving dozens killed” (ACLED, 16 April 2019, p. 2)

“On 30 March 2019, armed men attacked the villages of Kursasa, Kurya and Gidan Achali in the Shinkafi Local Government Area (northwestern Zamfara State). Villagers say that more than 40 people, mostly farmers, were killed in the event. Police says that only 10 persons were killed on a farm in Kursasa village.” (BAMF, 1 April 2019, p. 4)

“On the morning of 23 February 2019, shortly before polling stations opened, Maiduguri (capital of the state of Borno) was shaken by several explosions and gunfire. According to security reports, Boko Haram insurgents attacked the city with grenades. However, the attackers were pushed back by soldiers. According to official army reports, the noise heard was caused by military exercises. On 23 February 2019, the ISWA group (Islamic State in West Africa), split off from the terrorist organisation Boko Haram, declared that it had attacked the airport, an army base and a government building in Maiduguri. […] 18 February 2019, suspected insurgents belonging to the terrorist organisation Boko Haram attacked a group of firewood and charcoal merchants near Koshebe (Jere Local Government Area, Borno State) who were in the bush. At least 18 of them were killed.” (BAMF, 25 February 2019, p. 5)

“Officials in north-west Nigeria have reported the discovery of the bodies of 66 people, 22 of them children and 12 women, killed by ‘criminal elements’. The victims were found in eight villages in the Kujuru area of Kaduna state, the state government said.” (BBC, 15 February 2019)

“According to official sources from 15 February 2019, 66 bodies were discovered in eight villages of the Kajuru Local Government Area of the Kaduna state. According to Maisamari Dio, leader of the predominant Christian Adara ethnic group in the Kujuru region, Muslim Fulani attacked an Adara village and killed several people on 10 February 2019. The Adara had then made retaliatory attacks on Fulani. […] On 12 February 2019, fighters of the ISWA group (Islamic State in West Africa), a branch of the terrorist organisation Boko Haram, attacked the car convoy of the Governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima. He was 6 travelling from Maiduguri on Dikwa-Ngala Street to an election campaign in Gamboru-Ngala (headquarters of the Ngala Local Government Area). According to Shettima’s spokesperson, three people were killed in the convoy during the attack. Some press reports say up to ten persons were killed and several were kidnapped. According to ISWA, who claimed responsibility for the attack on 13 February 2019, 42 persons were killed.“ (BAMF, 18 February 2019, pp. 5-6)

“On the morning of 28 January 2019, Boko Haram insurgents captured the village of Rann without a fight (Borno State, administrative headquarters of the Kala Balge Local Government Area), located about seven kilometres from the Cameroonian border in the Lake Chad region. According to Amnesty International, they killed at least 60 residents and burned down hundreds of buildings as an analysis of satellite images indicates. The Nigerian army had left the city the day before the terrorist attack, after the Cameroonian units of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), also stationed in the city to protect the population, had been withdrawn shortly before. Boko Haram had already occupied the town of Rann which also houses a camp of tens of thousands of internally displaced people, for 24 hours on 14 January 2019 after fighting with the army. According to UN figures, a total of 35,000 civilians fled across the border to Cameroon in the wake of the two attacks by the Boko Haram on Rann.” (BAMF, 4 February 2019, p. 4)

“New satellite images analyzed by Amnesty International show the horrific aftermath of a Boko Haram attack that devastated in Rann, north-east Nigeria, displacing more than 9,000 people earlier this week. The satellite images reveal the true extent of the devastating attack which took place on 14 January in the Borno State town, which hosted thousands of civilians internally displaced by the conflict with Boko Haram. According to Amnesty International’s analysis, the attack resulted in large areas being burnt in the west and south of Rann, with more than 100 structures destroyed or heavily damaged by fire.” (AI, 18 January 2019)

“This report documents the violent clashes between members of farmer communities and members of herder communities in parts of Nigeria, particularly in the northern parts of the country, over access to resources: water, land and pasture. […] Amnesty International visited 56 communities in Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Taraba, and Zamfara states affected by the clashes and conducted 262 interviews, including remotely with members of communities in Nasarawa and Plateau states. […] Many attacks lasted for hours, in some cases days, even in communities where security forces were not far away. The response of security forces in some of the instances in Adamawa, Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, and Zamfara states were so slow and poor that villagers accused them of complicity in the attacks. In some cases, especially in Adamawa and Taraba states, security forces knew attacks were about to happen and saw the attackers but refused to act. […] Amnesty International has documented 312 incidents of attacks and reprisal attacks in 22 states and Abuja between January 2016 and October 2018. As a result of these attacks Amnesty International estimates that at least 3,641 people may have been killed, 406 injured, 5,000 houses burnt down and 182,530 people displaced. The attacks primarily targeted men, although women and children also fell victim People’s property and means of livelihood were affected too.” (AI, 17 December 2018, pp. 6-16)

4. Southern Nigeria, Biafra and the Niger Delta

(States: Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River State, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Ondo, Rivers)

4.1. Background Information

“The Niger Delta, in southern Nigeria, is a paradox, rich in resources but poor and racked by insecurity. A combination of local grievances over oil and gas pollution, infrastructure, poverty, unemployment, the region’s share of oil revenues and its marginalisation in national politics led to protests that evolved into a full-blown insurgency in 2006. That rebellion, waged by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), severely disrupted Nigeria’s oil industry, slashing earnings from its exports, the country’s major revenue source. A June 2009 presidential amnesty for the militants ended the insurgency, restored some stability and created an opportunity for the government to address the multiple grievances and demands at their roots. That opportunity was lost to political inertia and bad governance. Many issues that triggered the conflict remain largely unaddressed. The presidency of Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015), the first national leader from the region, stipends and training for the former militants and arrangements with insurgency leaders kept a lid on local agitation and conflict.” (ICG, 29 September 2015, p. 1)

“Conflict in the Niger Delta has been marked by the vandalism of oil infrastructures; massive, systemic production theft locally known as ‘oil bunkering,’ often abetted by state officials; protests over widespread environmental damage caused by oil operations; kidnapping for ransom; and public insecurity and communal violence. The demands of the region’s various militant groups have varied, but often include calls for greater autonomy for the region and a larger share of oil revenues. Militant groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have used the kidnapping of oil workers and attacks on oil facilities to bring international attention to the Delta’s plight. […] Successive Nigerian governments have pledged to engage the Delta’s disaffected communities, but few of their efforts met with success until 2009, when President Yar’Adua extended an offer of amnesty to Delta militants.” (CRS, 18 July 2012, p. 13).

“Other organized criminal forces in the southern and middle parts of the country committed abuses, such as kidnappings. The overall level of violence in the Niger Delta, which declined briefly after a 2009 general amnesty, rose during the year.” (USDOS, 25 June 2015, Executive Summary)

“While amnesty lasted, there was some reprieve as militants sheathed their swords. However, there has been recourse to arms in the region in recent times as new militant groups emerged in 2016 with various demands. While the new names that emerged this time differ from the past ones, there is no doubt that this was old wine in new bottles. The new militants are still insisting on resource control and bombing of oil installations, which is re-immersing the country in conflict once again.” (African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, 12 September 2017)xvii

“Militants in the Niger Delta have not launched any major attacks on oil installations since the federal government engaged the region’s ethnic and political leaders last November, pledging to revive infrastructure projects, clean up the polluted Ogoni environment and allow local communities to set up modular refineries. Yet the region’s situation remains fragile. Attacks against Igbos or other southerners in the north might lead some delta militants to target oil companies, either to pressure the federal and northern state governments to stop anti-Igbo violence, or to cover criminal activities.” (ICG, 20 July 2017)

“Criminal groups abducted civilians in the Niger Delta and the Southeast, often to collect ransom payments. Maritime kidnappings remained common as militants turned to piracy and related crimes to support themselves. On July 13, for example, Nigerian pirates boarded a cargo vessel off the coast of Bayelsa, kidnapping 10 Turkish sailors and taking them away by speedboat. The pirates, initially demanding three million dollars as a ransom payment, reportedly released the sailors in August after weeks of negotiations.” (USDOS, 11. März 2020, Section 1b)

4.2. Current Situation

“In Delta state in south, herder-farmer clashes left fourteen dead in Uwheru 13 Feb.” (ICG, March 2020)

“In Niger Delta, pirates 3 Jan killed four navy personnel and kidnapped three foreign workers in Bayelsa state; navy 7 Jan rescued kidnapped men.” (ICG, February, 2020)

“In Nigeria, tensions between the APC and PDP increased this week ahead of governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. In Nembe town [Bayelsa], militias of both parties clashed at a PDP rally resulting in one death and several wounded supporters. On election day, six people were killed at polling units in Lokoja, Opolo and Abocho. Several other polling units reported attacks on journalists and voters. (ACLED, 19 November 2019, p. 1)

“Criminal groups abducted civilians in the Niger Delta and the Southeast, often to collect ransom payments. Maritime kidnappings remained common as militants turned to piracy and related crimes to support themselves. On March 26, for example, Nigerian pirates boarded a fishing vessel off the coast of Ghana, kidnapping three Korean sailors and taking them by speedboat back to the Niger Delta. The pirates reportedly released the sailors after the Ghanaian parent company paid a ransom.” (USDOS, 13 March 2019, Section 1b)

5. Further Information on the security situation in Nigeria

Please see the following link to access the database of Nigeriawatch[xx]:

For further information on security incidents please also see:

For maps on security incidents in Nigeria please also see:

6. Sources:

(all links accessed on 16 April 2020)

i The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is a German state owned organisation that specializes in international development.

ii The US Department of State (USDOS) is the ministry of foreign affairs of the United States.

iii The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the public service broadcaster of the United Kingdom.

iv The Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin is a civil-law foundation and the founding institution behind the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

v The Fund for Peace (FfP) is an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit research and educational organization that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security.

vi The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress.

vii The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a transnational non-profit, non-governmental organisation that carries out field research on violent conflict and advances policies to prevent, mitigate or resolve conflict

viii Agence France-Presse (AFP) is an international news agency headquartered in Paris.

ix Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international human rights organisation.

x The UN Security Council is an organ of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.

xi The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) is a conflict collection, analysis and crisis mapping project.

xii BAMF is the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

xiii Amnesty International (AI) is a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights.

xiv Die Zeit is a German weekly newspaper

xv The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is a global think tank headquartered in Sydney, Australia.

xvi The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN Refugee Agency.

xvii The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes is a South Africa-based civil society organisation working throughout Africa and operating in the field of conflict prevention.

This featured topic was prepared after researching solely on and within time constraints. It is meant to offer an overview on an issue and is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status, asylum or other form of international protection. Chronologies are not intended to be exhaustive. Every quotation is referred to with a hyperlink to the respective document.

Associated documents