Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Security Mapping: Guide To Threats, Crime And Terrorism Hotbeds In Nigeria (Part 3)

As I said in the introductory part of this essay, this project is aimed at mapping or collating salient risks, threats, safety concerns, crime, terrorism or violence extremism hotspots representative of Nigeria’s cities and 36 states of the country. This is the third tranche of this research. If you missed part one, read it here. Part two of the essay can also be found here. The current essay maps, collates threats, risks, crime and security hotspots or security, safety challenges inherent in South-South, popularly known as the Niger-Delta – comprising - Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states; the North-East – comprising - Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states and North-Central - Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

1.     South-South Nigeria is popularly known as Niger Delta and consists of six states: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states. Crime and Security threats representative of South-South Nigeria include: Militancy and vandalization of crude oil or pipeline facilities especially by MEND/Niger-Delta militants, kidnap for ransoms and extortion (KRE), Ukrainian and Lithuanian  ship were kidnapped a while ago off Nigerian coast. There’s also proliferation of weapons/arms, illegal crude oil bunkering, sea piracy, and ‘rape capital of Nigeria’ (CLEEN Foundation 2013, report). The South-South also ranks second with respect to high incident of car thefts in Nigeria. Environmental hazards or degradation (Oil spill), contamination and gas flaring are common in the Niger-Delta axis. A popular writer and environmental activist, Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were executed on November 10th 1995 by the General Sani Abacha regime for advocating against oil pollution, contamination.
a.    Edo state – Cultism is pretty much entrenched in Edo state. Membership of the various cult groups are said to include senior government officials, students artisans amongst others. It is not surprising that Benin, the Edo state capital and other parts of the state are always in the news for intermittent and vicious inter, intra-cult clashes. Kidnapping, armed robbery attacks and ritual killings are ongoing security challenges in Edo state. Recent studies and presentations from NAPTIP (National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons) confirm that external human trafficking (usually for sexual exploitation) is endemic in Edo state where many families seem to bask on how many of their own are residing abroad and remitting hard currency back home. NAPTIP reckons that 98% of victims rescued from external trafficking for sexual exploitation are from Edo state. One of the famed black spots for criminal activities to watch out for in Edo state is along the Lagos-Benin by-pass.
b.  Bayelsa – kidnap for ransom and extortion (KRE), illegal crude oil bunkering, sea piracy and maritime insecurity, militancy, proliferation of arms, environmental degradation and contamination. Gunmen kidnapped the mother of Nigerian Football Coach - Samson Siasia in Bayelsa. A popular Ijaw musician and 100-Year old mother of the APC deputy governorship candidate in Bayelsa were kidnapped in Bayelsa the same period.

c.     Rivers State High rate of kidnap for ransom and extortion (KRE), sea pirates, militancy and illegal crude oil bunkering (the Nigerian Army uncovered a massive illegal crude oil bunkering site in Port Harcourt), armed robbery, cult-related killings or assassinations, high rate of political violence. (Ishaka creeks is said to be a notorious haven for kidnappers and criminals in Rivers State). To give us an idea of the scourge of kidnapping in Rivers state, gunmen kidnap son of Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, a popular newspaper columnist was kidnapped in Port Harcourt. The wife of a political party chieftain kidnapped in Rivers State was later found dead and rampaging gunmen killed 8 people in Port Harcourt a while ago. These are just random incidents. The Rivers State Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Joe Poroma, has said that “not less than 10” girls are raped daily in Rivers state while the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development opines that more than 1,200 girls were allegedly raped in Rivers State, in 2012. A report published by the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) sequel to the 2013 National Aids Reproductive Health Survey showed that Rivers State tops the latest aids prevalence chart in Nigeria, followed by Taraba state.

d.  Cross River State Is a coastal state that borders Cameroon to the east with Calabar as Capital. Security Threats Representative of Cross River state include: sea piracy, armed robbery, kidnapping amongst others. The brother of Nigeria's former head of Department of State Security or SSS as it is popularly called was kidnapped a while ago in Cross River state.

e.    Delta State – This states has its own fair share of security challenges. In addition to illegal crude oil bunkering said to be rife in this area, kidnapping is also a problem. A kidnapping den at Obetim forest in Kwale was reportedly discovered a while ago. Another factor that casts a haze of insecurity and uncertainty is parts of Delta state is the delicate relationship and mutual mistrust between the Itsekiri’s and the Ijaw’s which has resulted in intra and inter-communal conflicts in the past. The recent location of an Export Processing Zone in this area is a hot potato that re-ignited the age-long rivalry, agitation and restiveness in this area. Also, given the accusations of arms stockpiling and proliferation, the security situation in this axis is definitely fluid. Don’t forget that a good number of ex Niger Delta militants are from Delta state. The imminent stoppage of amnesty largesse may see some of the ex-militants resort to criminal activities. A Daily Post newspaper investigation ‘’revealed that over the last six months (2015), kidnappings and rival secret cult violence in Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha Local government Area, have claimed no fewer than twenty lives’’ 
f.     Akwa Ibom – Environmental hazards, oil bunkering; CLEEN Foundation report says Akwa Ibom witnessed the second highest reported incident of armed robbery in Nigeria, 42 per cent

2.     North-East Nigeria consists of six states: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states. Granted Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency is waning, but it will take a while for the entire North-East to be free from the miasma of terrorism, suicide bombings on soft and hard targets. Terrorism rating is high. Crime and Security threats representative of this part of Nigeria include: violent extremism, terrorism and insurgency, suicide bombings, ethno-religious riots (on February 18, 2006, Maiduguri literarily went up in flames and 51 people were killed aftermath of Muslim protest against a supposed caricature of prophet Muhammed), high rate of rape incidents, 6 percent (CLEEN Foundation, 2013 report). Their modus operandi include: drive-by shootings on motor-bikes, suicide and VBIEDs attacks on soft and hard targets. Boko Haram is also said to be responsible for some bank robberies in north east Nigeria.

a.    Adamawa State: Formally known as Gongola state, Adamawa state borders Gombe state to the North, Borno state to the North East, borders Taraba State to the West and Republic of Cameroon to the East. The state is said to be interspersed with about 80 ethnic groups and has 21 Local government Areas. Even as Boko Haram tried to make inroads into Yola, the capital of Adamawa state, the Sect reportedly held sway in the following local councils: Magadali, Mubi North, Mubi South, Michika, Maiha during its hey days. Recall that prior to the existence of Boko Haram, an Islamic sect known as Maitatsine formed by one, Mohammed Marwa and later succeeded by Musa Makaniki, held sway in Yola (Adamawa state) in the 1980s. Granted Boko haram’s attacks seem to have whittled down but it continues to launch sporadic suicide bombings in parts of the state. On October 1, 2012, more than 50 students were killed in terror attacks in Adamawa state. There is also environmental security challenge of flooding in Adamawa state ( in September 2015, seven communities in Numan Local Government Area were submerged by flooding due to heavy water flow from Kiri Dam). A German citizen was kidnapped in Adamawa state in July 2014 but was rescued by Cameroonian forces in January 2015 after a military rescue operation on the Cameroonian border.

b.  Bauchi: Religious unrest, political violence (the Kala-Kato Sect mayhem) and kidnapping. Ansaru also claimed responsibility for kidnapping seven European and Middle Eastern nationals from a compound owned a Lebanese construction company- Setraco in Bauch state. It appears that while Ansaru lasted, it specialized in kidnapping, especially foreigners. About nine Youth Corps members were hacked to death in Bauchi state in cold blood aftermath of the 2011 presidential election during which erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan defeated incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

c.     Borno State: With Maiduguri as capital, Borno state comprises of 27 Local Government Areas. Borno state goes by the moniker ‘’Home of Peace’’ but is ironically characterized and happens to be the epicenter of the Boko Haram bloodletting campaign. It is widely known that Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf formed Boko Haram in 2002 in Maiduguri as an Islamic movement. Recall that while it held sway, Boko Haram reportedly controlled about 20,000 square miles of territory – an area the size of Belgium. 20 out of the 27 Local Government Areas in Born fell to Boko Haram. Contrary to the impression that Boko Haram no longer controls any swathe of land or territory in Nigeria, the Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima asserted that as at October 2015, the dreaded Islamic Sect is still in control of two local government areas, namely: Abbadam and Mobar and partially in control of a third council – Marte. Territories or not, Boko Haram is very much a threat in Borno and it’s environ as the Sect continues to unleash series of suicide bombers on soft targets, public places.  Boko Haram militants routinely ambush travellers plying major highways such as the Gamboru-Ngala-Dikwa-Mafu-Maiduguri, Damboa-Biu-Maiduguri, Damaturu-Maiduguri, Kano-Maiduguri highways. Arguably, the aforementioned roads pass for some of the most dangerous in Borno state and Nigeria. On April 14, Boko Haram attacked Girls’ Secondary school Chibok, Borno state and abducted about 276 girls. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted in a video that the Chibok girls were “spoils of war” and would become brides of Boko Haram members. 

d.  Gombe State: Boko Haram has launched attacks on Gombe state on several occasions. Boko Haram insurgents disrupted elections in Dukku Nafada town in Gombe State killing seven people. At least 29 people were killed when two bombs ripped through two bus stations in Gombe on July 22 2015. The Sect also killed unspecified number of persons and burned down scores of houses at Kasheri town. A resident of Gombe, Alhaji Yusuf Jinjiri said ‘’a lot of Boko Haram suspects who fled Borno state because of the heat the military has turned on them have relocated to Gombe and Bauchi axis where they are now terrorizing innocent citizens’’.

e.    Taraba: Ethno-religious conflict or violence (lingering crises involving the Jukun, Kuteb, Wukari, Tiv tribes often fueled by revenge attacks), Ethnic violence reared its ugly head in November after election tribunal declared APC Gubernatorial candidate in the April 2015 election as winner of the gubernatorial election. Taraba state ranks second in terms of Aids prevalence statistics in Nigeria (NACA 2013 Survey).

f.     Yobe: A self-styled group known as the Taliban sprang up in Kannama, Yobe State and Gwoza (Borno state) sometime in 2002. Boko Haram controlled two local councils in Yobe state, Boko Haram Insurgency, Terrorism, Suicide Bombing, Keep an eye on Damaturu-Biu Road,

3.     North-Central Nigeria otherwise known as Middle Belt consists of six states: Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states. Crime and Security threats representative of North Central Nigeria include: endemic and intermittent communal and ethno-religious crises, cattle rustling, kidnapping (Kogi), Boko Haram attacks/suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, attacks on soft and hard targets, Recurrent flooding of River Niger and Benue. In a report by SBM Intelligence titled, ‘’Terror In The Food Basket: A look into the violence in North-Central Nigeria’’, the firm identifies some of the factors contributing to the frequent skirmishes in North-Central Nigeria to include:  ‘’Seasonal southward migration due to dry Seasonal which brings herdsmen into contact with locals in Middle Belt and increases competition for farmland, desertification’’ amongst others. SBM Intelligence says a solution to this perennial crises in the middle belt ‘’will require vision and investment in infrastructure and to liaise with traditional rulers in the North to designate land for communal ranches. The United States Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) estimates that about 785 sectarian-related deaths occurred in Plateau state between 2011 and 2013. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reckons that about 14,000 Nigerians have died from sectarian violence since 1999, signifying that more Nigerians were killed by sectarian violence than by terrorism.

a.  Benue state: Constant clashes between locals and Fulani herdsmen. Perennial flooding is common in Benue state, flood submerged more than 150 houses in Makurdi in August 2015. The flooding is attributed to overflowing of River Benue or release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. Suspected Fulani herdsmen allegedly killed 45 people at Egba village in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue state sometime in March 2015.

b. Kogi State: Kogi state occupies an important place in the history Northern Nigeria. The Protectorate of Northern Nigeria was proclaimed in Lokoja on January 1, 1900, marking the entry of colonial rule in the region. Kogi state was created in 1991 with Lokoja as capital. The state has many ethnic groups but the Igala whose homeland is in the eastern part of the state constitute the majority. Kogi State is home to the Ajaokuta Steel Industry, Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company and Aliko Dangote's Obajana Cement factory. Typical security and safety issues within Kogi state are: Flooding, the Lokoja-Okene or the Okene-Auchi-Benin highway is notorious for accidents, armed robbery and kidnapping. It was along this road that Human Right Lawyer, Barrister Mike Ozekhome was kidnapped a couple of years ago. Even a catholic priest was not spared by kidnappers in Kogi State In November 2014; Gunmen supposed to be Boko Haram militants staged a prison break at the Koto-Karifi Federal Medium Prison during which about 145 inmates were freed.  A national daily once classified Kogi state as one of the ‘’unsafe states’’ in Nigeria together with Borno, Kano, Yobe, Nasarawa, Bayelsa amongst others. Recall the dastardly killing of 20 worshippers at a Deeper Life Bible Church in Okene on Monday, August 6, 2012 and the next day, a military patrol van patrolling Okene town was attacked and two military officers were killed. Bomb-making factories were discovered at Kabba, Kogi West with loads of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

c.   Kwara State: Is a gateway between the Northern and Southern Nigeria. Its slogan is “State of Harmony”. The Nigerian anti-narcotics agency – the NDLEA in the recent past designate some spots around Film House, Gambari, Ojagboro, Idi-Ape and Okelele, all in Ilorin the Kwara state capital as flash points where suspected hard drug dealers turned to their hideouts. One of the security threats ravaging Kwara state is cultism; it was reported a while ago that a Kwara State Polytechnic students’ cult clash claimed 16 people. Recall that Kwara state borders another country, Benin republic and the border is said to be porous enhancing smuggling (weapons, contraband etc.). Just recently it was reported that Benin republic ‘’annexed’’ or rather invaded Okuta (about 16 communities) in Baruten Local Government Council of Kwara state leading to skirmishes

d. Nasarawa: Nasarawa state border Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital. Keffi is just about 10 kilometres to the federal capital territory (FCT). Said to be made up of about 29 ethnic groups, ethnic rivalry and conflict is rife in Nasarawa state. The most prominent conflict involves the Eggon, Alago and raiding Fulani herdsmen. The Eggon are predominantly Christians and are said to constitute the dominant ethnic group in the state. The Ombatse phenomenon in Nasarawa State is a source of security concern. Recall the dreaded Ombatse cult group headed by one Chief Lega Ahgu (late?) popularly called Baba Alakyo, reportedly slaughtered about 100 combined team of policemen and operatives of the Department of State Security Service (DSS) sometime in 2013 during an ill-fated raid by the security operatives. Youth restiveness and armed robberies is reported to be common in the Keffi axis of Nasarawa state.

e.  Niger State: Perennial flooding (in 2012, seven people were killed while 149 communities across 10 local government areas – Mokwa, Lavun, Edati, Chanchanga, Shiroro, Borgu, Bida, Bosso, Munya and Wushishi were sacked by flooding in Niger state. Illegal mining and lead poisoning (22 children died from lead poisoning in 2015). An ongoing security concern in parts of Niger State is the menace of so-called Fulani Herdsmen; they allegedly slaughtered 50 people including a Police Inspector in community in Niger State a while ago. Random kidnapping occurs in Niger state as well, a popular Minna-based hotelier was kidnapped by gunmen in the recent past.

f.   Plateau State: Sporadic communal and ethno-religious conflicts or riot pervade Plateau state. These crises or violence is more often than not, spurred by the ‘’indigene-settler’’ syndrome or Christian-Muslim dichotomy, dichotomy and supremacy and attacks by Fulani herdsmen. For instance, the 2001 Jos riot claimed at least 1,000 lives (HRW, 2001). Boko Haram has also made incursions to Jos, Plateau state with IED attacks. Chelsea and Nigeria footballer John Mikel Obi’s father was kidnapped in Jos some time ago.
g.  FCT (Abuja): Boko Haram has launched attacks on the outskirts and heart of Nigeria’s capital Abuja. In 2012, the dreaded sect carried out suicide attacks on the headquarters of the Nigeria police and United Nations killing several people. In July 2012, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded in the parking lot of an Abuja shopping center; in June, an IED exploded outside a nightclub in Abuja. Nigeria’s capital, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also witnessed bombings in April, May, and June 2014. As recently as 2 October, 2015, bombs supposedly by Boko Haram, were exploded in the Nyanya and Kuje suburbs of Abuja.

Written by: Don Okereke

Follow Don on Twitter: @DonOkereke