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

Published August 22, 2015
By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
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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.

Edo’s State governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, assumed office in November 2008 after winning an appeal in the 2007 elections, which had initially declared his rival Oserheimen Osunbor governor. In July 2012, Oshiomhole was reelected for a second term in a landslide victory as a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which merged with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013. Since then there has been rising political tensions between PDP and APC supporters in the state, with the next gubernatorial election scheduled for 2016.

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. It represents a compilation of the data from the sources listed below, not necessarily the opinions of FFP 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).

Akoko Edo
(Edo North Sen. District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Intra-Communal Violence
> Criminality

In 2015, incidents of criminality were reported, including robbers who raided a church.

In January 2014 shots were fired in a dispute over whether the banned Igarra masquerade festival should be held. Later in the year, gunmen in military uniforms reportedly killed several people, including two policemen. Other acts of criminality were also reported during the year.

Criminality and ritual violence were reported in 2013.

Esan North/S. East/Central/West
(Edo Central Sen. District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Cult Clashes
> Political Tensions
> Criminality

In February 2015, after the arrest of a PDP member for suspected voter fraud, police averted a clash between PDP members who were protesting the arrest and APC members who were demanding further investigation into the election fraud. A woman’s body was discovered in March of 2015—suspected to have been strangled by cultists. In July 2015, members of the Associate Staff Union of Universities protested the abduction of one of their colleagues.

The leader of a well-known gang was reportedly killed in March 2014. In June 2014, six kidnappers were reportedly killed in their hideout during a gun battle with the policemen.

Conflict risk factors during the 2013 local elections included the murder of an active ACN member in April and subsequent protests by voters when the release of election results was delayed in May. In July 2013, there was a clash between two groups in a dispute over the collection of market revenue that reportedly led to the deaths of two people. A number of other murders were reported during this period, including that of an aide to a local government chairman and a member of the Youth Corps.

Cult clashes in August 2012 allegedly killed several.

Etsako Central/East/West
(Edo North Sen. District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Political Tensions
> Protests

In 2015, teachers and academic unions protested twice over issues of compensation. In March 2015, three people were killed in a political clash between the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In June, an angry mob attempted to lynch two police officers following the accidental killing of two civilians.

In 2014, reported issues included a cult clash in March which reportedly killed several students, a communal clash over land in April, and a murder during a family dispute in August where a father was killed by son.

In 2013, there were political protest and clashes. Around the time of the local government elections, a clash between supporters of opposing political parties led to two fatalities. Also in mid-2013, PDP supporters reportedly protested the results of the election, calling for another vote. The APC chief in Edo was allegedly kidnapped in August 2013, but eventually released in September 2013 and his kidnappers arrested.

A series of bank robberies by a large gang of armed gunmen reportedly led to the deaths of over a dozen people in Etsako West in November 2012.

(Edo South Sen. District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Cult Clashes
> Political Tensions
> Protest

Conflict Risk Factors in 2015:
Cult Violence: In April 2015, twelve people were reportedly killed in a clash between the Eiye Confraternity and the Manfight group in a conflict stemming from recent governorship and state assembly elections. Between April and May, over 43 people were killed in cult-related attacks, including violence between the Eiye Confraternity and the Black Axe group.
Political Violence: At a January 2015 rally in support of Governor Oshiomhole of the PDP, the bureau chief of several newspapers was assaulted by PDP youths while reporting on the rally.
Protests: In the first half of 2015, there were protests by students of the University of Benin over the demolition of parts of the university by the Edo State government, human rights activists appealing for the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa due to xenophobic behavior, election workers protesting non-payment of compensation, and electricity customers protesting prolonged outages at the Benin Electricity Distribution Company.
Other: There were a significant number of reported murders during the first half of 2015, including the abduction, rape, and murder of women on two separate instances, a middle aged man stabbed to death by his son and lover, a security guard who was killed by armed robbers at a liquor store, and an 85-year old village leader who was killed by gunmen in a tussle over land. In May of 2015, the cleric of the Foursquare Gospel Church was reportedly shot dead in his house by a gang of assailants. In July of 2015, university students protested the alleged killing of their peers by local police.

Conflict Risk Factors in 2014:
Cult Violence: In October, one person was reportedly killed following a violent battle between 2 rival cult groups. A 14-year-old reportedly died at the hands of cultists in March as did a college student in a separate incident in November. Violence between the Eiye and Aye (Black Axe) confraternities continued in 2014, allegedly killing four in January and ten others in December of that year.
Political Violence: In October 2014, unidentified gunmen attacked an injured a PDP lawmaker for the lawmaker’s recent defection from the APC to the PDP. In November 2014, two people were killed in a clash between supporters of the Chairman of the Community Development Association (CDA) and chairman of youth association over the chairmanship position of the community’s association. The following month, a PDP senatorial aspirant was attacked by unknown gunmen who killed his cousin and a police orderly. An APC member and a commercial bus driver were also shot dead by gunmen in a separate incident.
Protests: From early to mid-2014, there were protests over labor issues, against the Chibok abductions of nearly 300 schoolgirls in the North, over the absence of access to post-natal care for women in Benin City, and over governance issues within the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Other: Policemen reportedly shot and killed robbers and kidnappers in various operations throughout 2014. One person was reported killed and three others seriously injured following a clash between two rival gangs in October 2014 fighting over the right to fine street traders. In November, a university student was allegedly shot dead on his way home from a football match by suspected cultists. In a separate incident it was reported that gunmen killed a cleric in December.

Conflict Risk Factors in 2013:
Cult Violence: The Eiye Confraternity also lost some of its members through an intra-cult clash in November 2013.
Political Violence: In April, factions of the PDP and the ACN clashed during the local government elections. In July 2013, the Deputy National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) was attacked at his home.
Protests: In March 2013, there was a protest against levies and extortion from the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria. In June 2013, there was a protest after the alleged killing of a student by police.
Other: There were several cases of abductions reported in Oredo, including that of an Israeli expatriate in July 2013 and of three female teachers in August of the same year. A pastor was also killed in November 2013.

Conflict Risk factors in 2012:
Cult Violence: In January 2012, a cult clash between Eiye and Black Axe confraternities reportedly killed eight over the course of a week, while two similar clashes in June and July 2012 led to the deaths of three and four respectively.
Political Violence: The principal private secretary to Edo State’s governor was murdered at his residence in May 2012.

(Edo South Sen. District)

Key LGA Risk Factors
> Intra-Communal/Land Conflict
> Kidnapping

In February 2015, JTF troops reportedly killed a kidnapper in a shootout during a rescue mission. Four months later in June, a hunter was assumed to have been murdered when his body was found in the bush.

In November 2014, two suspected robbers and kidnappers from the LGA were also allegedly killed in Benin City.

Two abduction cases were also reported in August and December 2013, with two policemen reported killed in the first incident and an individual who was being abducted killed in the second incident.

In February 2012, two people were reportedly killed in an intra-communal land dispute that also caused villagers to flee to neighboring communities.

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* Hannah Blyth contributed to this report.