Abia State - July 2014
Published July 31, 2014
By Nate Haken*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
Abia State has an estimated population of 2.4 million, predominantly of Igbo origin. Comparatively, it has not experienced the levels of violence and insecurity that other states in the Niger Delta have over the time period analyzed (although there was a sharp uptick in violence in 2010 associated with a surge in kidnappings). Abia produces about 27% of Nigeria’s crude oil and a significant amount of its natural gas. It is also rich in yam, maize, rice, potatoes, and cashews.
Theodore Oriji (People’s Democratic Party) was re-elected as governor of Abia state in 2011. Since the dissolution of the local government administrations in January 2010, there have been no Local Government Area (LGA) level elections, as of July 2014. In 2010, there was a spike in abductions and criminality in Abia, with a corresponding increase in vigilante/mob justice. A notable incident was in September 2010 when 18 school children on a bus were kidnapped. There was a significant decline in such incidences in 2011, although several cases of alleged public security abuses were reported. During 2012 and 2013, issues reported included kidnapping, political intimidation, student protests and cult violence. In the first half of 2014, Aba North/South LGA worsened while Umuahia North/South LGA improved by a significant margin. Additionally in the first half of 2014, shootings, killings, and abductions continued to be reported.
This Conflict Bulletin provides a brief snapshot 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 (www.p4p-nigerdelta.org). The screenshot of the heat map above shows the relative distribution of incidents from one LGA to the next from 2012 to June 2014. The trendline below shows the number of incidents and fatalities over time. The bar chart shows the relative trend of incidents of insecurity by LGA per capita. The summaries draw on data collected by ACLED, FFP’s UNLocK, the Council on Foreign Relations’ NST, WANEP Nigeria, CSS/ETH Zurich, and Nigeria Watch integrated on the P4P platform.
LGA Level Summary January 2012 - June 2014
Aba North/South LGA
Issues in Aba North/South LGAs mainly related to criminal activity and allegations of corruption. In July 2012, there was a protest by women’s groups about layoffs in various sectors by the state government. In September and October, there were allegations in local newspapers about the connections between criminal gangs and political parties. Also during this time period, there were protests and complaints about excessive taxation yet none reportedly turned violent. In the first half of 2014, shootings and abductions continued to be a concern. In May, a student from Abia State Polytechnic was shot to death by unknown gunmen suspected of being cultists. In June, a member of Abia State Vigilante Services (AVS), popularly known as the Bakassi Boys, was shot and killed by armed robbers. Some papers alleged that the victim was killed because he would have been able to identity the perpetrators. In January, a man who had been abducted was freed after four days. In February, two women and a baby were reported kidnapped in separate incidents.
Umuahia North/South LGA
Political thuggery, kidnapping, and cases of cult violence were reported in Umuahia North/South LGAs in the time period examined. In early 2012, the People’s Progressive Alliance headquarters was reportedly attacked and property destroyed by gangs believed to be connected to opposing political parties. In January 2013, a lawmaker was reportedly kidnapped for ransom while in March of the same year gunmen reportedly attacked the home of former governor Orji Uzor Kalu. Also, in February, it was reported that a student died during a cult initiation ceremony at Abia State University. In the first half of 2014, the overall level of violence appeared to be decreasing from 2013. Incidents of abductions and killings, however, continued. In February 2014, an aide to one of the sons of the State Governor was killed by an unknown gunman. In June 2014, a 72-year-old businessman was abducted by gunmen who demanded a N1.7 million ransom. The victim was reportedly found dead a day after the payment was made to the kidnappers.