In the early morning hours of February 9, 2016, in a sprawling camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno State, three young girls thought to be looking for shelter, were welcomed inside. What the guards who admitted them didn’t know, however, was that each was wearing an improvised explosive device strapped to her body. Minutes later, two of those girls were dead and, with them, an estimated 58 other victims, including many families seeking shelter from a raging insurgency that had driven them from their homes. An additional 80 people were badly wounded. Attacks like this have come to characterize the insurgency that has raged in northern Nigeria since 2009. Recently, however, data and research by The Fund for Peace (FFP), a Washington, D.C.-based NGO, indicates that Boko Haram has fundamentally shifted its tactics and its targets.
The use of women and children as weapons of war in northern Nigeria and in neighboring countries is undoubtedly horrific, there is often the tendency to paint the phenomenon with a broad brush that identifies the bombers as victims without agency, or the right of choice, in their fate. To the extent that this assumption has implications for response, it should be acknowledged that the question of agency is inevitably much more complex and uncomfortable. Certainly, no ten-year-old child can be said to be of a mental and emotional maturity to make such a fatal choice. However, the assumption that the women and children who have carried out these attacks are all abductees is false.
Published January 27, 2016 | By Sarah Silverman
The continuous contemporary news cycle alerts us daily to the mass violence and destruction carried out by radical and extreme violent insurgent groups, and the far reaching flow on effects. Groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East, Boko Haram in West Africa, and al-Shabab in East Africa, and al-Qaeda in both continents, have resounding impacts, both regionally and internationally. The violence perpetrated by these groups is spilling across borders in Africa and the Middle East, causing a migration crisis not seen in scale since the end of World War Two. With the world’s attention focused on border controls and refugee quotas, what has gleaned less focus is the response to returning defectors and the deradicalization process.
Published November 16, 2015 | By The Fund for Peace and Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta*
Reports of cult violence have increased sharply in the Niger Delta since the beginning of 2014. This has been particularly salient in Rivers State, where the violence has been spread over a wide geographic region. In Rivers, as in other Niger Delta states, cult violence has taken on various criminal, militant, communal, and/or political undertones, depending on the situation. Given how pervasive the issue has become, for any program that seeks to mitigate conflict in the state, cultism will have to be a key consideration in the coming year as Rivers goes through significant socio-political changes presenting both opportunities and risks to sustainable peace and development.
Published October 28, 2015 | By The Fund for Peace, Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, and Academic Associates PeaceWorks*
In the run-up to the 2015 Nigeria general and state elections, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) deployed the Integrated Peace and Development Unit (IPDU) in three states to undertake a holistic portfolio of interrelated activities for early warning, assessment, prevention, and management of violent conflict. The three components consisted of the following: IPDU worked with Community Life Project (CLP) to develop an SMS platform for Peace Messaging conflict early warning in which over 2,000 messages were received and analyzed. IPDU contracted AA Peaceworks, to implement their Community Stakeholder Network (CSN) approach to conflict management, which had proved highly successful in the 2007, 2011, and 2012 elections. Committees were trained in 18 LGAs and successfully mitigated over three hundred cases of elevated conflict risk. Showing the human cost of election violence: as part of the project’s media messaging videos portrayed interviews with widows and their families to deter participation in election violence. Data from both components (CSNs and SMS) were triangulated against data on the Peace Map for cross-validation and analysis.
Published October 23, 2015 | By The Fund for Peace and Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta*
Transition of gubernatorial power has historically been fraught with violence in Bayelsa. In 2012, for instance, political tensions were high, with reported explosions at party secretariats, cultist violence targeting political aspirants, a reported assassination attempt, kidnappings, and general political thuggery. Now, in 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed December 5, 2015 for the Bayelsa gubernatorial elections, and there are signs that conflict issues are emerging again.
These Conflict Bulletin provide brief snapshots 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 The Fund for Peace 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).
Benedict Ayade, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won the gubernatorial election in April 2015, to replace outgoing Governor Liyel Imoke (also PDP). For years, Cross River was the stage to a territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. After a controversial UN-backed ICJ verdict in 2002 and a comprehensive resolution between the two nations in 2006, Abuja began to transfer authority of the peninsula to Yaoundé, and Cameroon eventually took full sovereignty of Bakassi in August 2013. Other issues reported in Cross River include periodic outbreaks of inter-communal violence, cult violence, and piracy.
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.
While violence in Ondo has historically been relatively low, in the first half of 2015 reported fatalities increased significantly as compared to previous years. This was mainly in connection to a few incidents of criminality (bank robberies in Owo and Akoko North West LGAs) and piracy (Ilaje LGA) that killed dozens. Other issues, reported in Ondo included political tensions and cult violence. After the 2012 gubernatorial election, in which Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party (LP) was re-elected, the losing parties raised concerns about alleged election irregularities and intimidation. In 2014, Mimiko left the LP to join the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The next gubernatorial elections are scheduled for 2016.