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Rise in Cult Violence and Insecurity in Rivers State

Published November 16, 2015 | By The Fund for Peace and Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta*

Reports of cult violence have increased sharply in the Niger Delta since the beginning of 2014. This has been particularly salient in Rivers State, where the violence has been spread over a wide geographic region. In Rivers, as in other Niger Delta states, cult violence has taken on various criminal, militant, communal, and/or political undertones, depending on the situation. Given how pervasive the issue has become, for any program that seeks to mitigate conflict in the state, cultism will have to be a key consideration in the coming year as Rivers goes through significant socio-political changes presenting both opportunities and risks to sustainable peace and development.

Preventing 2015 Election Violence in the Niger Delta

Published October 28, 2015 | By The Fund for Peace, Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, and Academic Associates PeaceWorks*

In the run-up to the 2015 Nigeria general and state elections, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) deployed the Integrated Peace and Development Unit (IPDU) in three states to undertake a holistic portfolio of interrelated activities for early warning, assessment, prevention, and management of violent conflict. The three components consisted of the following: IPDU worked with Community Life Project (CLP) to develop an SMS platform for Peace Messaging conflict early warning in which over 2,000 messages were received and analyzed. IPDU contracted AA Peaceworks, to implement their Community Stakeholder Network (CSN) approach to conflict management, which had proved highly successful in the 2007, 2011, and 2012 elections. Committees were trained in 18 LGAs and successfully mitigated over three hundred cases of elevated conflict risk. Showing the human cost of election violence: as part of the project’s media messaging videos portrayed interviews with widows and their families to deter participation in election violence. Data from both components (CSNs and SMS) were triangulated against data on the Peace Map for cross-validation and analysis.

Renewed Potential for Violence: Bayelsa Gubernatorial Elections

Published October 23, 2015 | By The Fund for Peace and Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta*

Transition of gubernatorial power has historically been fraught with violence in Bayelsa. In 2012, for instance, political tensions were high, with reported explosions at party secretariats, cultist violence targeting political aspirants, a reported assassination attempt, kidnappings, and general political thuggery. Now, in 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed December 5, 2015 for the Bayelsa gubernatorial elections, and there are signs that conflict issues are emerging again.

Nigeria Conflict Briefings - August 2015

Published August 31, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

These Conflict Bulletin provide brief snapshots of the trends and patterns of conflict risk factors at the State and LGA levels, drawing on the data available on the P4P Digital Platform for Multi-Stakeholder Engagement. It represents a compilation of the data from the sources listed below, not necessarily the opinions of The Fund for Peace or any other organization that collaborated on the production of this bulletin. The summaries draw on data collected by ACLED, FFP’s UNLocK, the Council on Foreign Relations’ NST, WANEP Nigeria, CSS/ETH Zurich, NEEWS2015, and Nigeria Watch integrated on the P4P platform. They also draw on data and information from “Violence in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends,” by Patricia Taft and Nate Haken (Springer Press, April 2015).

Conflict Bulletin: Edo State - August 2015

Published August 22, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

Edo was one of the Niger Delta’s more violent states on a per-capita basis with Incidents of violence and associated fatalities increasing over the three and a half year period. Issues in Edo ranged from protests, criminality, abductions and domestic violence to clashes between gangs, cults, political groups and communities. The vast majority of these incidents were reported in the Oredo Local Government Area (LGA), home to Benin City, although violence was also reported further north, notably in the Esan West, Uhunmwonde, and Etsako Central, East and West LGAs.

Conflict Bulletin: Cross River State - August 2015

Published August 22, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

Benedict Ayade, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won the gubernatorial election in April 2015, to replace outgoing Governor Liyel Imoke (also PDP). For years, Cross River was the stage to a territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. After a controversial UN-backed ICJ verdict in 2002 and a comprehensive resolution between the two nations in 2006, Abuja began to transfer authority of the peninsula to Yaoundé, and Cameroon eventually took full sovereignty of Bakassi in August 2013. Other issues reported in Cross River include periodic outbreaks of inter-communal violence, cult violence, and piracy.

Conflict Bulletin: Ondo State - August 2015

Published August 21, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

While violence in Ondo has historically been relatively low, in the first half of 2015 reported fatalities increased significantly as compared to previous years. This was mainly in connection to a few incidents of criminality (bank robberies in Owo and Akoko North West LGAs) and piracy (Ilaje LGA) that killed dozens. Other issues, reported in Ondo included political tensions and cult violence. After the 2012 gubernatorial election, in which Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party (LP) was re-elected, the losing parties raised concerns about alleged election irregularities and intimidation. In 2014, Mimiko left the LP to join the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The next gubernatorial elections are scheduled for 2016.

Conflict Bulletin: Akwa Ibom State - August 2015

Published August 20, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

Overall, between 2012-2015, Akwa Ibom was the second most peaceful state in the Niger Delta region as measured by reported fatalities per capita. Udom Emmanuel of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won the gubernatorial election in April 2015, to replace outgoing Governor Godswill Akpabio (also PDP) who was elected in 2007. Election violence was reported in both 2011 and 2015. After the most recent election, supporters of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) protested the results, alleging irregularities. Other issues reported in the last three and a half years include land conflict and abductions.

Conflict Bulletin: Rivers State - August 2015

Published August 20, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

Since May 2013, political tensions were high in Rivers State after the disputed Nigerian Governor’s Forum election. Formerly a member of the PDP, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who is from Ikwerre (Rivers East Senatorial District), switched affiliation to the APC in November 2013. Despite the zoning formula, which would have given the PDP gubernatorial candidacy to an aspirant from Rivers South-East, Nyesom Wike (Rivers East) won the PDP primaries, upsetting the rotation and raising ethnic sentiments across the state, including the Ogoni axis. In a surprise move, the powerful former militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) apparently made a statement endorsing the APC candidate in the presidential election after claiming dissatisfaction with the current president and the PDP. In the run-up to the 2015 elections, cult groups and ex-militants lined up behind the two major parties and exerted influence through intimidation and violence. Ultimately, Wike (PDP) won the election to succeed Amaechi (APC) as governor.

Conflict Bulletin: Bayelsa State - August 2015

Published August 20, 2015 | By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*

Although on a per capita basis, violence is relatively high in Bayelsa, the number of fatalities and incidents have dropped since 2010. In February 2012, Henry Seriake Dickson (PDP) was elected as governor after a period of uncertainty in the wake of Governor Timipre Sylva’s termination in January 2012. Over the last four years, incidents of insecurity in Bayelsa have included cult violence, piracy, abductions, and attacks on energy infrastructure. Conflict factors were mainly reported around the capital of Yenagoa, but also in Nembe and Southern Ijaw.