Nigeria and the insecurity crisis

A World Health Organization doctor giving vaccination to a child A World Health Organization doctor giving vaccination to a child WHO/A. Clements-Hunt

16 March 2020

Nigeria is today engulfed in terrorist attacks, religious and ethnic tensions, social problems and governance issues

It is the recent news that on Sunday, March 1, about 100 armed men attacked the villages of Kerawa, Zareyawa, and Minda in the state of Kaduna, killing at least 50 people. Local officials think they are bandits, whose presence is very common in this region, rife with cattle theft and kidnappings. At dawn, the bandits gunned down worshippers at the exit of a mosque, as they left the building for morning prayers, before killing residents and burning and looting homes. “So far 50 bodies have been recovered but the figure is not conclusive and is very likely to rise as rescue efforts are still underway”, said Zayyad Ibrahim, a legislator in the Nigerian parliament. Several people were wounded in the attacks and taken to nearby hospitals, Ibrahim said. The assault happened in retaliation for villagers allegedly assisting recent army operations against the so-called bandits in their forest hide-outs, local counsellor Dayyabu Kerawa said. According to people like Alhaji Daiyibu Kerawa, indeed, the attacks may instead well be the work of Boko Haram militants, which operate for years in northern Nigeria. Kerawa then appealed for President Muhammadu Buhari to send security forces to protect the area. 

As already said, Nigeria is today engulfed in a multifaceted crisis. Particularly for what concerns terrorism, the Boko Haram insurgence can be explained in the light of several social grievances like widespread poverty, and ethnic and religious divides (mainly between Christians and Muslims) which afflict the population. Extremist groups have been able to tap into these grievances, to assert their ideology. Boko Haram grew its ranks by taking advantage of widespread anger and resentment in northern Nigeria over the country’s wealth gap and exploited religious rhetoric to justify its violence. Meanwhile, the military’s efforts at countering armed violence have been continually undercut by low troop morale sabotage by Boko Haram sympathizers and alleged human rights abuses by the security forces which alienate local support. 

However, the problem cannot be exclusively solved by way of military means, destroying Boko Haram and other radical groups, but with a multi-layered approach, which still has to comprise the measured use of force, alongside with proactive development investments to alleviate the social and economic grievances, and the countering of extremist ideologies.

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Author: Pasquale Candela; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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