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Nigeria: CDD report identifies causes of insecurity across regions

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THE inadequate access to justice, corruption, and lack of capacity of state security operatives are recurrent factors responsible for insecurity across regions in Nigeria, a pro-democracy group, the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), has said.

CDD report identifies causes of insecurity across the regions

This was contained in its report released on Saturday, titled ‘Multiple Nodes, Common Causes: National Stocktake of Contemporary Insecurity and State Responses in Nigeria’ obtained by The ICIR.

The report states that although each region in Nigeria is battling a distinct crisis, there are common challenges that overlap and contribute to violence in each geopolitical zone.


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“These include economic underdevelopment and youth unemployment; corruption and inadequate access to justice; a lack of capacity and professionalism from security forces that are prone to abuse and excess, indiscriminate use of force; competing nationalisms and notions of group identity and belonging; and the proliferation of SALWs across porous borders,” the report read in part.

The Centre noted that Nigeria’s crises are also weaved together by politicians and prominent individuals who spread false narratives that devolve into ethnic or religious hate speech.

According to CDD, State security forces have demonstrated the insufficient capacity to protect the populace, ‘communities are increasingly resorting to self-help approaches, such as stockpiling arms, to defend themselves against criminal networks and rival, often communally based, militias’. 

The Northern Conflict; Banditry, Terrorism and Farmers/Herders clashes

As the most unsafe region in Nigeria, divided into East, West and Central, the region has seen thousands of killings, abductions and other criminal vices in the last decade owing to the activities of terrorist groups, bandits and clashes between farmers and herders.

In the report, CDD noted that in North West which comprises Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kano, and Kaduna states, over 14,000 people have been killed in the region in the last decade, according to ACLED data.

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The group said the ethnicisation of farmer-herder conflict and tit-for-tat violence, Competition over land resources, failure of the justice system, growth in criminal activity and ethnicisation of herders/farmers conflicts are the major factors responsible for the insecurity in North-Western states.

“Land-use disputes and deteriorating intercommunal relations have been compounded by a corrupt justice system that has repeatedly failed to deliver fair and impartial verdicts, leaving community members aggrieved. Many criminals have managed to escape justice by bribing themselves out of police custody,” the report noted.

It added that the justice system’s failures had pushed communities to settle matters extra-judicial.

In the North Central, which comprises the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue states, the report said that longstanding political over the last two decades tussles between predominantly Christian indigenous groups and Muslim Hausa-Fulani have spiralled into episodic large-scale violence.

“As in the northwest, tension over land use is a major root driver of violence in the north-central region. Herders have been forced south by violence in the northeast and northwest as well as environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change,” the report read.

For the North-East, CDD said the disproportionate presence of the state, lack of education, overstretched security forces, and war economy are the primary drivers of the sustained violence in the region.

The group said due to the absence of the Nigerian state in the North East, a terrorist group, Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) ‘is a more attractive source of governance as it provides basic services, a modicum of security, and is seen to adjudicate local disputes and regulate commerce in a less corrupt manner than the Nigerian government’.

Kidnapping for ransom, cultism, secession and other violent vices of the South

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Arm robbery, kidnapping, cultism, farmers/herders crisis, piracy and violent secessionist agitations have characterised the insecurity challenges in Southern Nigeria.

The Southern region is divided into South-South, South East and South West.

The report noted that for the south-south, sea piracy/ robbery, kidnapping, human trafficking, ritual killings, illegal oil bunkering and artisanal refining, political violence, herders–farmers conflict, cultism, and spillover effects of southeastern secessionists agitations are central conflict nodes in the region.

South-East;  Feelings of ongoing marginalisation have characterised the violent clashes in the region for many years.

“While forms of insecurity arising from crime, inter-communal unrest, and militancy have long been endemic in the region, the escalation since 2012 of radical separatism in southeastern Nigeria has been one of the most significant recent conflicts trends that have had a pronounced bearing on national cohesion.

“Since the launch of a military operation known as “Operation Python Dance” in 2016, the region has witnessed an intensification of confrontations between IPOB and the Nigerian security forces – especially the police, the Department of State Security (DSS), and the military,” the report read in part.

In the Southwest, CDD said inflated tension between farmers/herders, especially in Oyo State, is the primary driver of unrest in the region.

Inadequate State response to crisis

The group reported that the excessive response of State security forces has been inadequate to resolve the ongoing crisis across the country.

Citing the statement made by a former Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mike Okiro, the report said Nigeria has about 400,000 police officers. Still, over 150,000 are assigned to guard VIPs and others who ordinarily would not qualify for police protection.

The group also said an Assistant Inspector-General of Police for Zone 5 in Benin City in 2018, Rasheed Akintunde, said only 20 per cent of police officers are engaged in the core duties of protecting lives and ensuring peace in the country.

“The remaining 80% are just busy providing personal security to some `prominent people.”, the report quoted Akintunde.

The CDD said this had pushed the Nigerian government to rely on its armed forces for civil order, a duty that the Nigeria Police Force and NSCDC should carry out.

For the Military, CDD noted that the constant shutdown of telecommunications network sometimes hinder residents from calling for help when they are attacked.

Also, CDD noted that the poor relations between the security sector and local populations stem from the ‘widespread impunity that members of the security forces enjoy and the security sector’s resistance to structural change’.

Citing an instance of Military impunity, the group noted that no soldier had been disciplined by the military over the massacre of peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos in 2020.

On the use of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF)to foster peace in communities, CDD said they engage in ‘unprofessional behaviour such as extortion, theft, using weapons to settle personal disputes, and sexual and gender-based violence, albeit with seemingly less frequency than at the start of the conflict’ in the North East. 

Recommendations

To resolve the identified crises across the six geopolitical regions in Nigeria, the CDD recommended that future efforts of the Nigerian government to combat insecurity must consider local, state, and national level solutions and ensure coordination between relevant individuals and agencies.

The group also advised that local and national stakeholders will need to be willing to try new approaches to curtailing insecurity because kinetic methods favoured by the federal government have proved inadequate to address these complex security challenges.

It stated that Peacebuilding interventions are urgently needed in most if not all geopolitical zones to improve community cohesion in conflict-affected areas.

“Much of the insecurity in Nigeria today falls along ethnic or religious lines, even if it is fundamentally rooted in separate issues such as land use or criminality, making it imperative to mitigate sentiments of inter-communal hostility and restore a degree of trust between communities,” the report noted.

Author profile

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via labolade@icirnigeria.org, on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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