Conflict Bulletin:
Delta State - Patterns and Trends, 2012-2015

Published August 19, 2015
By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
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Although the 2009 Amnesty Program was instrumental in reducing violence and fatalities associated with militancy, since 2012 Delta has been the most violent Niger Delta state as measured by conflict fatalities per-capita. Conflict risk incidents in Delta State during this period included gang violence, criminality, vigilante/mob justice, communal violence, and political violence. There were a number of abductions, some targeting political figures, their family members, or oil workers.

On October 25, 2014 local elections were held for the first time since the chairmen were dismissed in 2011. In April 2015, Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the gubernatorial election to replace outgoing Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan (PDP).

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 the opinions of FFP or any other organization that collaborated on the production of this report.

The screenshot of the heat map on this page shows the relative distribution of incidents from one LGA to the next from 2012-2015. The trend-line on the next page shows the number of incidents and fatalities over time. The bar chart on the next page 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, NEEWS2015, and ACLED 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).

Aniocha North/South
(Delta North Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Kidnappings
> Cult Clashes
> Robbery

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. A shooting in the first half of 2015 resulted in the deaths of at least three women. In May, four people were killed in a clash between two cult groups. In June 2015, a cult leader was shot dead by police.

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. Since June 2014, there have been several instances of armed robbers battling police in gun battles.

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 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.

Ethiope East/West
(Delta Central Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Kidnapping
> Inter-Communal Tension

Most incidents reported in Ethiope East involved security forces clashing with suspected kidnappers or robbers. In early 2015, there were reports of villages and homes destroyed in an inter-communal clash. In a separate incident, gunmen attacked Eku community, killing two, and abducting several Youth Corps members in April. Also in April, a journalist was reportedly kidnapped and murdered. Three people were killed by cultists in June. In late June, the chairman of a vigilante group was shot dead by soldiers.

Separately, one person was reportedly killed in a clash between herdsmen and a local community. In November 2014, there was a clash between supporters of the PDP and supporters of the Labour Party during a local government re-run election. Also in November, an Ijaw leader was kidnapped and rescued by the military about a week later. Separately, a traditional ruler was killed by gunmen in December.

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. 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.

Ika North/South
(Delta North Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Kidnappings
> Robbery
> Protests
> Cult Clashes
> Inter-Communal Tension
> Political Tension

In the first half of 2015, most fatalities resulted from cult clashes in January. Other incidents included criminality and clashes between police and robbers.

In the first half of 2014, two cult clashes, including one reportedly involving a well-known confraternity, led to the deaths of several people. The latter half of 2014 included a continuance of occasional cult clashes and robberies that resulted in shootings.

Violence increased 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.

Isoko North/South
(Delta South Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Kidnappings
> Communal Violence
> Youth Protest.

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 allegedly killed on their way to defend a high profile kidnapping case. During the latter months of 2014, there were a few reported events of arrest and/or killing of rapists and kidnappers by the police.

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 June 2012, it was reported that the son of a high-ranking local official was abducted for ransom.

Ndokwa East/West
(Delta North Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Inter-Communal Violence
> Kidnapping

In early November 2014, herdsmen allegedly killed an 18 year old and kidnapped two children and three women. The victims were freed several days later. Inter-communal clashes continue in 2014, including one in June which led to the death of an associate professor at Delta State University.

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.

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.

Oshimili North/South
(Delta North Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Inter-Communal Violence
> Kidnappings
> Mob Justice
> Sexual Violence
> Political Violence

In 2015 there were several protests reported, including political protests of INEC after the April gubernatorial elections. Voters protested outside of the Party’s headquarters over perceived marginalization in the elections. The Delta Women Empowerment Initiative protested their allegedly inadequate representation in government and campaign organizations. Recent graduates protested at a construction company demanding employment. Students protested the police detention of their classmate.

Political violence in early 2015 included: the killing of a man employed by a House of Assembly candidate by political thugs, and an SSS officer reportedly killed by gunmen in an incident thought to be connected to the 2015 elections.

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. In the latter half of 2014, robberies continued with a few casualties every few months. In addition, there were several reports of sexual violence.

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 2012, there was some reported tension between settler and indigene communities. In one 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.

Udu
(Delta Central Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Mob Justice
> Cult Violence
> Communal/Land Conflict
> Kidnapping
> Youth Protest
> Political Tensions.

In January 2015, a clash was reported between two communities over land. Also in January, political tensions rose after a community leader was kidnapped. Other election-related incidents included the reported destruction of campaign materials. In February cultists reportedly attacked a community, injuring at least one vigilante. In May, thousands of youths reportedly protested after a robbery suspect escaped from police custody and committed a murder.

In May 2015, there were three reports of inter-communal clashes. One of these reports involved conflict between pastoralists and a community. Another regarded a land dispute, and the last involved a cult group and a community. In March, Polytechnic students violently protested over the increase in fees.

In February 2014, one person was reportedly killed in a clash between the Aye and Vikings cult groups. Two months later a vigilante leader was also reportedly shot dead. 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 early 2012, an alleged thief was reportedly lynched by vigilantes. Cult violence was also reported during the year.

Ughelli North/South
(Delta Central Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Inter-Communal Violence
> Kidnapping
> Ex-Militant Protest
> Political Tensions

Inter-communal tensions, cult violence, and political tensions were reported in the first half of 2015. In January there were communal tensions over land and the location of a market. In February, conflict between an Ijaw and an Urhobo community led to violence, including two abduction and a fatality. Inter-communal tensions escalated between pastoralists and farmers, and neighboring communities in Ughelli North/South. Also in February, there were reported tensions between pastoralists and farmers. Cult activities and at least one clash between cult groups were reported in the first half of 2015.

There were also reports of political tensions connected with the 2015 elections. In January, community members complained about the process of PVC distribution. In February, March, and April, a community leader, the Vice Chairman of his community, and the Ughelli Branch Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association were killed, respectively.

In July 2014, over 2000 ex-militants and their leaders from Ondo, Edo, and Delta states thronged the streets of Bomadi in protest over the exclusion of proposed Toru-ebe State by the National Conference. They were demanding its adoption by the Confab as one of the three states that would be created from the South-South. During the rest of 2014, there were sporadic cases of rape, robbery, and inter-communal violence which appeared to be connected to cults and land conflict.

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.

Uvwie
(Delta Central Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Intra-Communal Clashes
> Youth Protests
> Cult Clashes
> Political Tensions

There were multiple protests, murders, and kidnappings throughout the three and a half year period. Ongoing leadership tussles in Ekpan community resulted in clashes in 2012, 2013, a youth fatality in 2014, and the murder of a community trust member in 2015.

In early 2015 there were reports of inter-party tensions surrounding the elections as well as the incident described above where an Ekpan community leader was murdered, leading to a youth protest.

In 2012, youths reportedly attacked a police station to protest police action against an ex -militant commander. In 2014 a clash between two youth groups reportedly killed two people and a separate cult clash reportedly killed 7.

Warri North/South/South West
(Delta South Senatorial District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Ethnic/Communal Tensions
> Mob Justice
> Political Tensions
> Criminality
> Piracy

Political tensions ran high in January and February 2015. In one political rally, a candidate attempted to give out money, which resulted in mayhem and anger. In late January, there was tension over the uneven distribution of PVCs as well as allegations of bribery by candidates. Threatening text messages were also sent to a candidate. In February, a female leader was attacked over the postponement of elections, and a political argument led to clashes in which several people were injured. In April, two were killed and many others were injured in a clash between factions of the PDP and APC during the Governorship and House of Assembly polls. Throughout 2014, leading up to the 2015 elections, tensions simmered between Ijaw and Itsekiri communities over the name, timing, and location of a proposed Export Processing Zone in Warri South West. In April 2015 there was a reported clash between Ijaw and Itsekiri militias in the vicinity.

Other reports in early 2015 had to do with clashes between cult groups, and one incident of communal violence between farmers and pastoralists.

Incidents in 2014 included a number of protests, clashes between police and armed robbers, piracy, and communal conflict. In January 2014, 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 was being held on corruption charges. A clash between suspected pirates and a ship’s security guards reportedly killed several people in May.

Since June 2014, there have been sporadic robberies and acts of violence between local groups and individuals. Notably, in October a prominent chief allegedly sent thugs to disrupt the inspection of a ballot area during the local government elections, causing multiple injuries and property to be destroyed. Additionally, groups protested and overran an oil station in December.

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. However, almost immediately representatives of the Ijaw and Itsekiri communities acted to deescalate the situation.

Around the population center of Warri, there were a number of incidents of criminal violence and mob/vigilante lynchings reported in 2012.

 
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* Hannah Blyth contributed to this report.
 

 
 

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