Delta State - July 2014
Published July 10, 2014
By Patricia Taft*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
Delta is the second most populous state in the Niger Delta, with an estimated 4.1 million people. The state produces about 35% of Nigeria’s crude oil and a considerable amount of its natural gas. It is also rich in root and tuber crops, such as potatoes, yams, cassava, and coco yams. Delta has a legacy of ethnic and political tensions which flared in the late 1990s and again in 2003.
The 2009 Amnesty Program was instrumental in reducing violence and fatalities associate with militancy. In 2010, however, there was a spike in insurgency/counter-insurgency activity with a notable incident that reportedly occurred in the Burutu Local Government Area (LGA) in December.
In 2011, the governor dismissed all elected local government chairmen and replaced them with Caretaker Committee Chairmen. Now, after two years, LGA-level elections are expected to take place on October 25, 2014. During 2012 and 2013, reported incidents included gang violence, criminality, and vigilante/mob justice.
There were a number of abductions, some targeting political figures, their family members, or oil workers. There were several reports of alleged abuses by public security forces, which sometimes provoked mob violence and protest. Conflict risk factors continued into mid-2014 with reports of abductions and communal violence.
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 2012-2014.
The trend-line on the next page shows the number of incidents and fatalities over time. The bar chart shows the trend of incidents of insecurity by LGA per capita.
The summaries draw on data collected by FFP’s UNLocK, the Council on Foreign Relations’ NST, WANEP Nigeria, CSS/ETH Zurich, Nigeria Watch, and ACLED integrated on the P4P platform.
LGA Level Summary 2012-2014
As in other parts of Delta State, much of the violence in the reported time period in Aniocha North and South was associated with kidnappings and criminality. In August 2012, nearly 40 lawyers barricaded the magistrates’ courts to protest the abduction of a newly appointed judge. In December 2012, the mother of the Minister of Finance was reportedly kidnapped for ransom in Aniocha South. Violence around kidnappings and robberies increased in 2013, resulting in several reported deaths throughout the year. In 2013, there were two reported incidents of bank robberies leading to the death of several suspected criminals. In the first half of 2014, dozens were reportedly killed in clashes between rival cult groups. Other incidents involved criminality and violence against women and girls. In June 2014, about a dozen people were reportedly killed when armed robbers attacked a bullion van.
Warri (North/South/South West)
Around the population center of Warri, there were a number of incidents of criminal violence and mob/vigilante lynchings reported in 2012. In a controversial move, Delta state banned motorcycle taxis in Warri, which raised concerns over unemployment and limited transportation options. In 2013, gunmen reportedly killed a lecturer at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI). In July, youths armed with rocket propelled grenades, submachine guns, and explosives reportedly invaded several communities and killed 12 people. Some feared this incident would lead to increased ethnic tension, considering the legacy of ethnic violence during the Warri Crisis of the late 1990s and early 2000s. But representatives of the Ijaw and Itsekiri communities immediately acted to deescalate the situation. Incidents in 2014 included a number of protests, clashes between police and armed robbers, piracy, and communal conflict.
In January, an incident of intra-communal conflict was reported to have led to the deaths of several people. In May, a clash between two communities occurred, killing two. Also in May, the president of the Niger Delta Youth Movement was murdered. Protests included two in March—one by a women’s group over power outages, and one by youth protesting alleged misconduct by the ministers of Petroleum and Internal Affairs. In April, thousands protested for the release of former Delta State Governor James Ibori by the courts in London, where he is being held on corruption charges. A clash between suspected pirates and a ship’s security guards reportedly killed several people in May.
In early 2012, an alleged thief was reportedly lynched by vigilantes. Cult violence was also reported. In 2013, there were multiple reports of violence related to armed robbery and police clashes with criminals. There also continued to be reports of deaths and mutilations related to cult activity. In February 2014, one person was reportedly killed in a clash between the Aye and Bagger cult groups. Two months later a vigilante leader (Udu Central Vigilance Group) was also shot dead.
In 2012, there was some reported tension between settler and indigene communities. In one reported case there was a clash between Hausa traders and Igbo youth in February. In another case, two Fulani herdsmen were reportedly lynched. There were also kidnappings, mob violence, and cult attacks reported throughout the year. In 2013, protests were reported surrounding the allocation of traditional tribal land for use by an oil flow station. Separately, a local chief was reportedly abducted for ransom and later murdered by his kidnappers. Armed robberies and general criminality continued throughout the year. In the first half of 2014, incidents included vigilante and mob violence. In one reported incident, two cow thieves were lynched. In another, a native doctor was lynched because of suspected impropriety.
While there very few incidents reported in 2012, violence spiked in 2013 around attempted kidnappings and robberies. In March, an ACN Vice Chairman was abducted and reportedly killed despite the ransom having been paid. In February, protests broke out in the town of Abavo surrounding plans to relocate an oil flow station. In October, Road Transport Union strikes and protests left several dead. In 2014, two cult clashes, including one reportedly involving the Aiye confraternity led to the deaths of several people.
Most incidents reported in Ethiope East involved security forces clashing with suspected kidnappers or robbers. In early 2012, there was increased inter-communal tension between farmers and pastoralists after the alleged murder of a woman on her farm. In the second half of 2013, violence escalated between security forces and a gang of suspected kidnappers in which several were reportedly killed. Kidnappings and killings continued into the first half of 2014. In May 2014, local vigilantes reportedly attacked a suspected kidnapper and were about to lynch him when police intervened. In June, the Joint Task Force (JTF) killed a kidnapper during a rescue operation. Separately, one person was reportedly killed in a clash between Fulani herdsmen and a local community.
According to news reports, a high chief was allegedly murdered in 2012 by attackers from a neighboring community. Separately, several were reportedly killed in a communal clash. In 2013, there were several reported communal clashes, including one between pastoralists and farmers. There were also a number of kidnappings reported in the first half of 2013. Inter-communal clashes continue in 2014, including one in June which led to the death of an associate professor at Delta State University.
Reports of violent clashes between pastoralists and farmers increased in 2013. Several incidents resulted in fatalities and the destruction of property. In one case, protests began after herdsmen reportedly killed a farmer. JTF increased patrols in the area. Other killings occurred in conjunction with kidnappings, robberies or clashes between suspects and police. In early 2014, a clash with pastoralists reportedly killed one person. Separately, a vigilante leader was reportedly killed by gunmen.
Issues in Isoko North/South during this period related mostly to attempted kidnappings, along with police activity responding to these crimes. In June 2012, it was reported that the son of a high-ranking local official was abducted for ransom. In 2013, there were several instances of attempted robberies and abductions that resulted in the death of at least two suspects. Also, in July of the same year, five people were reported killed in a communal clash and attack on a palace of the Uzere Kingdom. In January 2014, cultists reportedly killed several people. A clash between farmers and pastoralists reportedly led to two deaths. In March 2014, two lawyers were reportedly killed on their way to defend a high profile kidnapping case.
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* Marcela Aguirre contributed to this report.