Killings by non-state actors on the rise in Nigeria

A protester carries the national flag in Port Harcourt, Nigeria A protester carries the national flag in Port Harcourt, Nigeria Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash

21 November 2021

 Attacks by non-state actors in Nigeria caused the death of 68 civilians in a week.

The security situation remains unstable in the North-west and North-east regions of Nigeria, namely in the states of Sokoto, Jigawa, Taraba and Imo. During the week from 14 November to 20 November, 68 civilians were killed by members of criminal gangs operating in those areas. The most serious attacks took place in villages of the Sokoto State on 15, 16 and 17 November, resulting in the death of civilians and an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The attack, which took place in the village of Takum in the Taraba State, shed light on a new security threat for the country, as the heavily armed attackers have been identified as members of a Cameroonian separatist group, known as Ambazonia.  The attack in Imo State, on the other hand, resulted in the death of one of the attackers who was shot by a policeman. His death has not been included in the final death toll.

These attacks reflect the security and humanitarian crisis that Nigeria has been experiencing for years due to the growing presence of criminal gangs in the North-west. Initially, these groups qualified as ethnic militias and vigilante groups armed by herders and farmers competing for the control over scarce resources. The situation has been further aggravated due to the progressing climate change and inadequate responses from the national government. The groups have now started to operate autonomously and are now frequently involved in criminal activities, ranging from kidnapping to sexual assault and armed robbery.

Since the Nigerian government lacks the resources to tackle the issue, it has been accused of complicity with the status quo. Thus, Timothy Avele, a security expert, is calling for a change of approach as proactive measures through Intelligence-based policing are needed.




Author: Martina Apicella; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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