Nigeria: Panic spreading as regional security teams prove ineffectual

By The Africa Report
Posted on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 18:04

Newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen, Lucky Irabor, centre, address troops during a visit to the Headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri Nigeria, Sunday 31 Jan 2021. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)

The security crisis in Nigeria is getting progressively worse, and the political disputes between federal and state governments are not helping, writes Africa Confidential.

On 11 May, President Muhammadu Buhari called a meeting of the National Security Council of service and intelligence chiefs in  Abuja.

At the same time, the governors of the southern states met in Delta State, demanding “a national dialogue on the security emergency and constitutional restructuring to devolve revenue-raising and security powers from the centre”.

There is an air of panic spreading around the country:

  • 128 civil society organisations called for a ‘National Day of Mourning’ on 28 May to protest the rising insecurity and state inaction;
  • The Presidency claims to have “unimpeachable evidence” of Nigerian politicians working with foreigners to overthrow Buhari’s administration;
  • However, despite calls by some for the military to take over, it has pledged allegiance to the civilian government.

Insecurity across the nation

In the north of the country, Kaduna’s Governor Nasir el Rufai and Benue’s Governor Samuel Ortom “are locked in a bitter exchange of words over who should take the blame for the worsening violence”, say Africa Confidential.

Desertification in the north has meant that herders are moving to pastures further south, but they have been infiltrated by criminals who are kidnapping for ransom. The south-west states responded by forming a regional security grouping – ‘Amotekun’ – but this has achieved little.

South-east governors have been less proactive. The separatist group in the region, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) took matters into their own hands – forming a military wing called the Eastern Security Network (ESN). However, the ESN has been accused of killing policemen and soldiers, as well as arson in police stations and prisons.

In response, the regional governors established ‘Ebube Agu’, meant to provide security in the region. However, Ebube Agu has no legal backing, unlike Amotekun.

Bottom line

It would be hard for regional security outfits to improve the state of the country, as they need to collaborate with the police and other federal agencies.

Regional security teams cannot carry arms, and so are unable to have the same effect federal security teams can. However, state governors worry that the federal government is not doing enough to tackle the nationwide insecurity.

The full version of this article appeared in Africa Confidential. 

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options