Conflict Bulletin:
Abia State - Patterns and Trends, 2012-2014

Published April 30, 2015
By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
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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. 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 Orji (People’s Democratic Party) was re-elected as governor of Abia state in 2011. In the 2015 election re-run, held in April 2015, PDP’s Okezie Ikpeazu succeeded Orji as governor. Since the dissolution of the local government administrations in January 2010, there have been no Local Government Area (LGA) level elections; the LGAs are administered by a council of Transitional Chairmen. From 2012 to 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, throughout 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). It represents a compilation of the data from sources listed below, not necessarily opinions of FFP or any other organization that collaborated on the production of this bulletin. The screenshot of the heat map on this page shows the relative geographic distribution of incidents from January 2012 to December 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, NEEWS/TMG, 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).

LGA Level Summary

Ugwunagbo
(Abia South Senatorial District)

Although there were very few reported incidents of violence in Ugwunagbo from 2012 through 2013, with robberies and domestic violence predominating, incident reporting increased some in 2014 including criminal and domestic violence. In a March 2014 report, two youths were killed over a dispute over a commission from harvested palm fruit. Because of the LGA’s very small population, the per capita number of incidents was higher than in the other LGAs, as reflected in the bar chart on the following page, despite the low overall number of incidents.

Aba North/South LGA
(Abia South Senatorial District)

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 January, a man who had been abducted was freed after four days. In February, two women and a baby were reportedly kidnapped in separate incidents. In May, a student from Abia State Polytechnic was reportedly 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 allegedly shot and killed by armed robbers. Some papers conjectured that the victim was killed because he would have been able to identity the perpetrators.

In the second half of 2014, robberies and kidnapping remained the predominant incidents reported. In August, three people were killed during a robbery attack on a community. Also in August, a man was pushed from a moving vehicle and killed by oncoming vehicles as a result of two men trying to rob him. In September, armed robbers reportedly killed two members of a vigilante group and in a separate incident in September, two people were killed in the cross-fire from a kidnapping attempt. In October, kidnappers killed two people. In November, it was reported that a journalist was abducted. He was released later in the month, with no further details provided concerning the kidnapping or ransom. In December a nurse was stabbed to death by another woman during a fight.

Umuahia North/South LGA
(Abia Central Senatorial District)

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.

Kidnapping and shooting incidents continued to be prevalent in the second half of 2014. Most significant was the shooting of Abia State Commissioner for Agriculture in July. The Commissioner died the following week, and it remained unclear whether the motive of the shooting was targeted assassination or attempted armed robbery. In October, Umuahia North/South LGA experienced a rise in incidents relating to government legitimacy and the upcoming elections. Members of the Abia Progressive Movement (APM) protested the second term bid of the lawmaker representing Aba North and South on the premise that the lawmaker was no longer representing the needs of the constituents. Later in October, thugs reportedly stormed an All Progressives Congress (APC) venue and assaulted observers and delegates, causing many to flee.

Osisioma-Ngwa
(Abia South Senatorial District)

The violence in Osisioma-Ngwa was characterized by domestic disputes, robberies, and kidnappings from 2012-2013. Overall, 2012 was relatively quiet with a few reported incidents of robbery and domestic violence. Insecurity increased again in 2013, however, with several instances of kidnappings, at least two cases suspected to be related to a ring of criminals involved in trafficking infants to so-called ‘baby factories.’ There were also reports of domestic violence during the year. In 2014, kidnappings and domestic violence again characterized most of the incidents although it was also reported in March that up to 33,000 liters of crude oil had been stolen; no further details were provided.

Obi Ngwa
(Abia South Senatorial District)

Overall, from 2012-2013, Obi Ngwa reported fewer incidents per capita in comparison to other LGAs. In April 2012, it was reported that an anti-terrorism squad was found to be harassing civilians although no further details were subsequently provided. In early January 2013, it was reported that up to 50 women who had been victims of a human trafficking ring were found and freed. In 2014, in both February and October, it was reported that clashes between police and members of a kidnapping ring led to the death of at least 3 suspected kidnappers, one assumed to be the mastermind of the operation.

 
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* Hannah Blyth and Ania Skinner contributed to this report.
 

 
 

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