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Elections to take place on February 16 amid violence in several regions – Nigeria Analysis

Executive Summary

General elections will be held in Nigeria on February 16, in order to elect the president as well as the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will seek re-election, with his main challenger being Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The main issues of the election are the state of the economy, endemic corruption, and the wide range of security threats across the country. These security issues may make it difficult to organize polls in some areas, particularly in the northeast where Boko Haram and the Islamic State have caused large-scale displacement.

The culture of patronage and role of local figures in mobilizing support for national races has led to Buhari and Abubakar making key connections to political leaders across the country, contributing to national tensions on a local level.

The risk of political violence will rise significantly after the election when the results are released and could translate to clashes between party cadres as well as violence directed toward state authorities. This is most likely in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, and Adamawa states. Reported or perceived irregularities in the presidential election would likely result in unrest in Lagos and Abuja as well.

Those operating or residing in Nigeria on February 16 are advised to avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of election-related facilities as well as any political gatherings due to the possibility of unrest.

Current Situation

In July and August 2018, more than 30 senators and 90 representatives defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), mostly to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), including Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Vice President and current PDP flag-bearer, Atiku Abubakar.

President Muhammadu Buhari was elected as the APC presidential candidate for re-election amid the party convention held in Abuja in October. Likewise, Atiku Abubakar was chosen as the PDP presidential candidate in a primary election.

On January 3, Amina Zakari was appointed as INEC’s head of the collation center of the elections, triggering allegations of misconduct by the PDP given that she is related to President Buhari.

On January 25, Buhari announced the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen over corruption allegations, sparking the PDP’s condemnation over what they claimed was the APC’s attempt to “influence” the judiciary before the election. This led to PDP demonstrations and a 72-hour suspension of the campaign in solidarity with Onnoghen.

Reports indicate that over 120 people were killed during the month of January 2019 due to banditry and subsequent security operations in Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto states.


Assessments & Forecast

Core issues and challenges affecting Nigeria ahead of tense electoral process

Political tensions and violence have always been a common feature of Nigerian electoral processes, both at the national and regional level. In fact, Buhari’s ascension to power in 2015 represented the first peaceful transition of power between the ruling party and the opposition in the country’s history. Nonetheless, political unrest did take place during the campaign period as well as in the aftermath of the elections. In the current campaign, these tensions were evidenced relatively early on by the brief siege of the National Assembly by security forces in August 2018 in order to allegedly allow the impeachment of Senate President Bukola Saraki following his defection to the PDP. Additionally, there was high-level unrest during the Osun gubernatorial election between APC and PDP cadres in September 2018. This not only illustrates the deep-rooted volatility of Nigerian electoral periods but also sets the precedent for a highly contentious election on February 16.

There is a range of issues concerning Nigerians ahead of the polls, primarily the economy and security of the country. This includes the general stagnation of the economy and how it is intertwined with endemic corruption. Despite being the largest economy in Africa as well as an oil producer, Nigeria is believed to be the country that is home to the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, at 87 million. This is coupled with high levels of unemployment at more than 23 percent in 2018. This is exacerbated by corruption at all levels of government, including the federal government, judiciary, and local institutions nationwide. These have been widely debated on the campaign trail.

In addition, the multifaceted security threats are a core issue. This includes widespread criminality and kidnappings-for-ransom nationwide, cultism in the south, intercommunal violence between farmers and herders in the Middle Belt Region, and conflicts between bandits and vigilante groups in Zamfara and northern Kaduna states. Finally, there is the consistent threat posed by Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the northeast, particularly as ISWAP has shown increased capabilities in recent months, with attacks in December and January that have left thousands displaced.
FORECAST: The northeast in particular faces not only the threat of attacks during the polls but also the logistical challenge of holding the elections in areas dealing with the displacement of people, which will likely impact electoral turnout. While militant groups have not issued any specific threats associated with the elections, many of the areas’ 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) will be voting inside of IDP camps across Borno State, some of which are areas that are heavily targeted by militants.

Culture of patronage, regional politics to influence election

With corruption as a major issue of the election, President Buhari has attempted to capitalize on his reputation of being “incorruptible” during the campaign. His image as a watchdog and the active anti-corruption practices instituted during his tenure have been key to this. Buhari is also assisted by his popularity among peasants in northern Nigeria, who play a key role in the electorate, as a result of his origins in Katsina State. In tandem, his running mate Vice President Osinbajo’s popularity among ethnic Yoruba and others in the southwest region help to bolster this support. On the other hand, one of Buhari’s primary challenges are the doubts regarding his fitness in office given that he is already 75-years-old and has spent prolonged medical leaves abroad. Finally, the state of the economy is likely to affect his support nationwide, while rising insecurity may undermine him in states that he won in 2015, such as Borno, Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, and Zamfara.

Atiku Abubakar as centered his campaign on his ability to revitalize the economy due to his experience as a successful businessman. He has also pointed to his political experience, as he served as Vice President under Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999-2007. He has sought to contrast his approach to security with Buhari, promising extensive reforms within the security sector to combat criminality, banditry, and militancy. In this context, he received the public support of several prominent generals who had supported Buhari in the 2015 election. Abubakar’s choice of running mate, Peter Obi, an ethnic Igbo, was likely a strategic effort to mobilize voters in the southeast, as seen when influence Igbo sociopolitical group Ohaneze Ndigbo called upon Igbomen to support Abubakar. However, Abubakar has already faced allegations of corruption and questions over the source of his enormous wealth during his vice presidency. Another concern for his campaign will be his poor electoral history, as despite his victory in the PDP primary election, he failed in his attempts to run for president in 2007 and 2011 as well as in the 2015 APC primaries.

The regional and ethnic connections already made by Buhari and Abubakar point to a key dynamic in Nigerian politics. Given the country’s size, federal structure, and entrenched corruption, there is a dominant culture of patronage where the support of local figures plays an essential role in gaining support in important areas. Part of the presidential campaigns’ efforts has been to find local figures capable of mobilizing voters. Kano State exemplifies this dynamic as it has the largest number of voters alongside Lagos State, making it an important battleground. Buhari won Kano with 90 percent in 2015 and counts on the state governor, Umar Ganduje, who vowed to deliver “at least five million votes”. However, Abubakar has gained the support of a former Kano governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is still regarded as an extremely influential figure and holds the potential to significantly reduce the margin of victory compared to 2015.

President Buhari also has a solid level of support in the North West and, to some extent, in the South West, though the North Central region has always been regarded as a “swing” zone that often decides the elections. Buhari won this area in 2015 with 56.2 percent, but North Central encompasses the states most affected by intercommunal violence between farmers and Fulani herders, especially Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau. With Buhari widely criticized for what those in the region perceive to be a soft stance against Fulani herders, he has the potential to lose a considerable number of votes.
FORECAST: This is further exacerbated by the defection of Senate President and former Kwara governor Bukola Saraki, as well as current Benue governor Samuel Ortom, from the Buhari’s APC to Abubakar’s PDP. Both of these figures, highly influential in their respective states, have actively campaigned in favor of Abubakar, and this is likely to turn both states to the PDP in the upcoming electionץ

FORECAST: As the elections draw nearer, and given the culture of patronage and political clientelism across the country, tensions are expected to rise ahead, during, and especially after the polls. While there are some instances of conflict, such as the alleged inability of Rabiu Kwankwaso to hold PDP rallies in Kano due to pressure by the APC-supporting state government, this is likely to worsen. Although there have largely be isolated cases of unrest thus far, the risk of violence will rise significantly in the days after the election when the results of both the presidential and local polls have been released. This unrest is expected to translate to scuffles between party cadres, as well as violence directed at state authorities by the losing party and their supporters. This is most likely in states with a long history of political violence, such as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, and Adamawa states.

These tensions have been fueled by both parties, as the APC have alleged that the PDP is mobilizing armed groups to influence the vote while the PDP have raised questions regarding the independence of the electoral commission as its president, Amina Zakari, is a relative of President Buhari. Moreover, the suspension of Chief Justice Onnoghen close to the polls raised further suspicion by the PDP. These suspicions of vote-rigging, intimidation, and the widespread practice of political clientelism illustrate the overall political climate in the country. FORECAST: In the event of contentious results on a local or national level, demonstrations and unrest are likely in the above states as well as in Lagos. If there are reported or perceived irregularities in the context of the presidential election, protests with a strong potential for unrest are liable in Abuja, particularly in the vicinity of the Supreme Court, electoral commission, and other central locations.


Travel to Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt can continue while exercising increased vigilance and adhering to stringent security precautions regarding criminal and security threats.
Those operating or residing in Nigeria on February 16 are advised to avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of polling stations, tallying centers, and other election-related facilities due to the possibility of unrest.
We further advise to maintain heightened vigilance in the week following the polls and avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of any demonstration that may arise due to the risk of unrest.


The 2019 Geopolitical Predictive Analysis is now available:




Boko Haram’s abduction, subsequent release of 104 schoolgirls in Dapchi likely to increase group’s notoriety, legitimacy among locals – Nigeria Analysis

Executive Summary

Militants attacked a government school in Dapchi village, Burasari Local Government Area (LGA) in Yobe State and abducted 110 students and two other children on February 19.

Following extensive negotiations with the Nigerian government that resulted in the safe return of 104 of the schoolgirls and the other two children after one month in captivity, Boko Haram has been able to once again garner international attention and portray themselves as a viable threat in Nigeria’s northeastern region despite extensive counterinsurgency operations.

In light of the upcoming general elections in 2019, the girls’ safe return has been projected by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as a triumph, which seems to have paved the way for the government’s appeasement stance toward the insurgency.

However, the incident has highlighted the administration’s propaganda of exaggerated success against the militant group and is poised to create backlash in the form of domestic and international criticism for Buhari’s policies concerning the insurgency.

We continue to advise against all travel to the northeastern Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, given the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency and extreme insecurity in the region.

Current Situation

Militants attacked a government school in Dapchi village, Burasari Local Government Area (LGA) in Yobe State and abducted 110 students and two other children on February 19.

President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement on February 24 expressing his concern about the abduction, claiming that the situation was a “national disaster”. On the same day, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) issued a counterstatement blaming Buhari for issuing exaggerated statistics suggesting that Boko Haram had been completely decimated, a situation that they claim put unsuspecting citizens in danger.

On March 12, Borno State authorities announced the closure of all boarding schools in 25 out of the 27 state’s LGAs due to the threat of Boko Haram militants conducting additional abductions. This came in wake of President Buhari’s decision to engage in negotiations for the release of the schoolgirls.

During the early morning hours of March 21, 106 abductees, including 104 schoolgirls and the two additional children, were dropped off in the middle of Dapchi by their captors, who also warned the locals against sending the girls to Western-style schools. While five of the remaining abductees reportedly died due to exhaustion, one Christian girl remains in the militants’ custody. The Nigerian government characterized the release as “unconditional”, though some sources citing locals indicate that authorities did free several militants who joined the kidnappers, while other sources suggest that the Nigerian government had paid a ransom to secure the girls’ release.

On March 23, while receiving the released girls in Abuja, President Buhari announced that his government was ready to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members who were ready to accept unconditional surrender.

Meanwhile, on April 1, at least 29 people were killed, including six militants, in a multi-pronged Boko Haram attack on Akikaranti, Bille Shuwa, and Bale-Galtimari communes surrounding Borno State capital, Maiduguri, coinciding with the Christian Easter holiday.

Boko Haram’s abduction, subsequent release of 104 schoolgirls in Dapchi likely to increase group’s notoriety, legitimacy among locals - Nigeria Analysis | MAX Security

Assessments & Forecast

Assessments: Following extensive counterinsurgency operations targeting Boko Haram strongholds, group attempts to reassert presence, garner international, domestic attention

Despite subsequent large-scale security operations targeting well-documented militant strongholds such as the Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad shores in Nigeria’s northeastern region, the militants successfully launched the well-planned abduction of the Dapchi girls. Indeed, this incident resembles Boko Haram’s April 2014 attack on a school in Chibok, Borno State, when 276 girls were kidnapped. The Chibok attack resulted in an extensive international outcry,  triggered by a domestic campaign started by the families of the Chibok girls. The #BringBackOurGirls movement put the Boko Haram conflict in the international spotlight, particularly when the former US First Lady Michelle Obama endorsed the campaign. In this context, the Dapchi attack was likely motivated by the prospect of achieving similar notoriety. Additionally, the attack came in response to security forces’ triumphant claims of the near-destruction of the militant group’s presence in the region. Through the Dapchi attack, the militants debunked such claims and reasserted their continued operational capabilities across the country’s northeast.

The Dapchi abductions rendered a successful outcome for the militants. While the federal government characterized the negotiations and the subsequent release of the hostages as completely “unconditional”, it contradicted local reports of the authorities’ release of several militants. Such conflicting reports align with previous allegations against authorities for releasing militants and paying ransom for militants, with the latest incident being the February 10 release of three lecturers from the University of Maiduguri, along with ten police officers abducted by Boko Haram last year. Under these circumstances, the suspected hefty ransom payment will likely be utilized by the militants to enhance and develop their operational capabilities in the region, which may have been hampered, to some extent, by the counterinsurgency operations.

Indeed, the government’s repeated payment of ransoms without any resistance is poised to encourage the militant group to carry out similar large-scale kidnappings. Such a concern was further emphasized by the Borno State authorities’ decision to shut down boarding schools across 25 of the 27 LGAs. Furthermore, the release of militants as part of the ransom payment reintroduces experienced and well-trained fighters to the ranks of the militant group, increasing their operational capabilities. This is further highlighted in the latest Boko Haram multi-pronged attack on April 1 that was reportedly coordinated by Shuaibu Moni, a top Boko Haram commander who was released by the government to facilitate the return of 82 Chibok girls in May 2017. Moni had previously appeared in a Boko Haram video on March 7 taunting the Nigerian security forces and threatening to launch additional attacks.

The theatrical grandeur of the return of the abductees as the militants drove into the center of Dapchi hailed as heroes by the local population for safely bringing back their girls was likely a symbolic attempt by the group to embolden its authority in the region. This sheds light on the militant group’s propaganda aimed towards gaining the locals’ trust and consolidate their influence in their areas of operation. As the militants shook hands with the locals and warned them against the return of the girls to schools for Western education, they compelled the latter to adhere to the militant group’s Islamist ideologies. Through the dramatic aspects of the event, the militants effectively portrayed themselves as legitimate actors in the region, with more control than the federal government in Abuja. Given the communities’ grievances against Abuja, as they continue to feel disregarded and neglected by the government, such an image of Boko Haram is poised to render the locals more susceptible to getting recruited by the militant group. Amidst the ongoing insurgency, these circumstances increase the possibility of better cooperation between the local communities and the militants, with the former providing shelter and engaging in economic transactions with the militants for their own survival.

Assessments: With 2019 elections nearing, Buhari makes strategic shift toward developing appeasement stance to overcome Boko Haram insurgency

Since President Buhari came into office in 2015, negotiations with Boko Haram in their kidnap-for-ransom schemes have become a recurring phenomenon, which includes the 2016 release of 21 Chibok girls and another 82 released in May 2017. Such a stance toward the militant group likely stems from large-scale international and domestic attention that these incidents received. Buhari has attempted to make good on his electoral promise of combating Boko Haram in contrast to the perceived failure of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to effectively defeat the militant group. However, Buhari’s administration has also projected a stronger government resistance to the insurgency, which has led to a distorted perception of success over Boko Haram militancy in Nigeria. Continued militant attacks have highlighted the government’s propaganda in displaying exaggerated data regarding the success of counterinsurgency operations and falsely claiming the defeat of the militant group. This may, to a certain extent, reduce Buhari’s international and domestic credibility.

With Nigeria’s presidential elections slated to take place in 2019, such an approach by Buhari for the safe release of abductees is poised to become his legacy. To further add to his administration’s successes against the insurgency, following the Dapchi events, Buhari appears to have embarked towards an appeasement stance with the latest amnesty deal. It is likely that through these propositions Buhari seeks to strategically portray to the international community his efforts for a peaceful resolution in parallel to the continuation of counterinsurgency operations. Under these circumstances, it is likely that Buhari will attempt to negotiate with the militant group to reduce attacks in exchange for reduced military actions in the northeastern region.

However, the administration’s conciliatory attitude towards the militants may be perceived by some as weak, with negative implications particularly by security forces, which may have a  detrimental impact on the fighting morale of the soldiers who are endangering their lives in battle. FORECAST: As such, any attempts by Buhari to negotiate with the militants to reduce attacks in light of the upcoming elections, as well as the latest amnesty deal, may add to Nigeria’s security agencies’ frustration concerning the ongoing nine-year long insurgency and weaken their determination to actively combat it. Additionally, Buhari’s administration is poised to receive substantial criticism from opposition political parties for their weakened stance towards the insurgency and their propaganda of exaggerating military successes, as evidenced by the opposition People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) statement denouncing the Dapchi deal.

FORECAST: Buhari’s latest amnesty deal offered to Boko Haram is quite similar to an opportunity offered by former President Jonathan in 2013, which Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau outright declined. As such, it seems unlikely that Boko Haram will accept the latest deal, particularly given that the government does not seem to have any substantial negotiating leverage. Furthermore, the latest April 1 multi-pronged Boko Haram attack continues to highlight that the group remains capable of executing sophisticated large scale attacks in their traditional sphere of influence. Given the group’s resilience in remaining a viable threat in Nigeria’s northeastern region despite the large-scale counter-militancy measures, a persistence of the conciliatory approach by the government is liable to be detrimental to their interests.


Travel to Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt may continue while maintaining heightened vigilance and following heightened security protocols regarding criminal and militant activity.

We continue to advise against all travel to the northeastern Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, given the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency and extreme insecurity in the region.

We advise to avoid all travel to areas of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad within the Lake Chad Region given the high risk of militancy.

MAX Analysis Nigeria: Chadian deployment records positive momentum against Boko Haram militants, February 3, 2015

Executive Summary

  • Chad’s military deployment to northern Nigeria and Cameroon has yielded a quick succession of defeats for Boko Haram’s militants, given the Chadian soldiers’ superior training, discipline, and supplies.
  • While Chad is focused on securing its border and interests along Lake Chad, longer term momentum against Boko Haram will necessitate an expansion of the commitment by regional forces to aid the Nigerian military’s counterinsurgency.
  • Travel to Abuja and Lagos can continue while maintaining heightened vigilance and following heightened security measures regarding criminal and militant activity.

Current Situation on the Nigerian Border with Chad & Cameroon
Starting on January 27, Chadian military troops, including contingents of armored vehicles and air force, have been engaging forces of the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram in the Nigerian towns of Malam Fatori and Gamboru, along the northeastern borders of Borno State. Reports on February 2 indicate that Nigerian military officials claim to have recaptured the towns of Abadam, Malam Fatori, Gamboru, Mafa and Marte, with the assistance of local vigilantes and regional forces of the Multinational Joint Task Force (JTF).

  • In recent months, there has been an increase in Boko Haram’s insurgency along the Chadian border. This includes a large scale paramilitary mobilization against Malam Fatori and other communities in the Abadam Local Government Area (LGA) in November 2014, in which the militants were able to gain control of the area. On January 3, a militant force captured the town of Baga and adjacent communities, reportedly killing at least 150 people.
  • A substantial Chadian force, said to number 2,500 soldiers, has reportedly deployed to Cameroon’s Extreme North Region in recent weeks. Reports on January 29 indicated that the force was positioned in the city of Fotokol, across the border from the Nigerian town of Gamboru, which is under militant control.
  • Boko Haram staged coordinated paramilitary attacks against Maiduguri, Borno State capital, on January 24-25 and February 1. Both attacks were repelled by Nigerian security forces in the city.

Assessments: Chadian deployment of troops targets immediate interests, incurs positive momentum against Boko Haram, yet long term paradigm shift necessitates prolonged commitment

  • The recent Chadian deployment has been propelled by the surge of Boko Haram activity near its border. While Boko Haram was active in  the vicinity of the Chadian border, particularly in Malam Fatori, prior to the Baga attack ,the majority of the militants’ operational effort concentrated along the borders with Cameroon and Niger. In contrast, the militant attack in Baga was directed at a base of the multinational JTF, in which Chadian and Cameroonian forces were allegedly slated to be positioned. The attack garnered widespread international attention as it was rumored to have killed 2,000 people and was described by an international NGO as the militants’ deadliest attack thus far. According to recent reports, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that as many as 15,000 Nigerian refugees have arrived in Chad. Elevated militancy in such close proximity to its border inevitably threatens Chadian interests in the oil abundant Lake Chad, while the direct assault on multinational JTF installations exposed the inadequacy of Chad’s standing deployment in Nigeria. Together, we assess that these considerations propelled Chad to commit greater force to the regional counterinsurgency campaign.
  • With this in mind, in the short term the Chadian deployment is likely to focus on securing the country’s immediate interests along the border. This assessment is further corroborated by the first locales targeted by the new force in Malam Fatori and Gamboru, which represent the northern and southern militant strongholds capping Lake Chad. Following from this, we assess that the next target for Chadian efforts will be Baga and potentially the town of Monguno which was captured by militants on January 24-25, still within approximately 50 km from the border. In so doing, the Chadian forces would have secured the immediate vicinity of Lake Chad. Revamped Chadian presence in the area as part the multinational JTF may also suffice to maintain relative security near the border in the short and medium term.
  • Over and above securing its border area, the Chadian deployment has the potential to drastically alter the strategic balance in the conflict with Boko Haram. Chadian forces are regarded as well-trained, disciplined and supplied, and have proven capable in counterinsurgency campaigns elsewhere in the continent, most notably in northern Mali. In contrast, the Nigerian military struggled to contain the expansion of Boko Haram, with multiple reports indicating that Nigerian soldiers fled during clashes with the militants. Moreover, the Chadian deployment has already prompted renewed discussion of a greater regional force, said to total 7,500 troops. Should such a force be able to undermine the presence of Boko Haram along Nigeria’s northeastern borders, they will cut off cross border supply and smuggling routes for the group which have been essential for its sustained insurgency.
  • As a result of the recent Chadian deployment, the counterinsurgency campaign in Nigeria already enjoys a positive momentum, with Boko Haram militants driven out from several key stronghold over the past few days. This comes in the face of prolonged momentum enjoyed by the group. However, the extent to which this positive momentum can be translated into a paradigm shift in the conflict still remains to be seen. Largely, we assess that such a paradigm shift will depend on Chad’s commitment to contribute substantial resources, both of manpower and equipment, to fight Boko Haram outside the immediate proximity of its border with Nigeria on Lake Chad. This is likely to incur greater costs on the Chadian forces and yield smaller rewards in the short term. As such, should Chad effectively secure its border area it may choose to avoid a more prolonged campaign deep into Borno State.
  • In the meantime, the Chadian deployment affects the decision making process of both Boko Haram and the Nigerian government. For the militants, we assess that the two repelled large scale offensives on Maiduguri have been propelled by the imminent Chadian mobilization as the group recognizes that near term direct confrontations with the Chadian military will challenge the group’s territorial control. Thus, Boko Haram is likely to continue to try and secure strategic locations in Borno State, chiefly the capital, as well as fortify its existing strongholds. The Nigerian Federal Government will likely seek to capitalize on the current positive momentum against the militant group ahead of the February 14 presidential elections. As most of the Chadian effort is concentrated in the north of Borno State, Nigerian forces are likely to target militant strongholds in northern Adamawa and southern Borno, potentially making their way towards the city of Gwoza. Such a campaign is likely to be prolonged, and its success will necessitate an ongoing commitment of Chad and other regional countries.
  • Finally, while such a paradigm shift in the conflict may undermine Boko Haram’s paramilitary campaigns, the sect is likely to maintain resilient militant capabilities. Boko Haram is deeply entrenched in the northeast with both local support networks and operational infrastructure, and has proven able to adjust and diversify its modus operandi in light of evolving strategic landscapes. Moreover, the sect may be inclined to demonstrate its resilient abilities by executing high profile attacks in key locations outside its core theater of operations in northeast Nigeria. Thus, we assess that in spite of the recent increased regional counterinsurgency campaign, Boko Haram militancy is likely to continue over the coming months.




Max Security Analysis Nigeria: Boko Haram continues high-casualty raids in rural northeast while increasing car bombing attacks in major cities nationwide June 27, 2014

Current Situation
Reports indicate a bomb exploded at the Emab Plaza shopping center on the Aminu Kano Crescent in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja at 16:00 (local time) on June 25. At this time 21 deaths and 17 injuries have been confirmed by police.
  • Reports indicate that over 100 people were killed in attacks on two villages in the Sanga Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State in the overnight hours of June 23-24. Gunmen simultaneously entered the Kabami and Ankpong villages at approximately 22:00 (local time) and began shooting automatic weapons indiscriminately at villagers and destroying property. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the attackers were wearing police uniforms.
  • A large explosion was heard in Kano University’s School of Hygiene, located in Kano city’s Sabon Gari district, during the afternoon hours of June 23. Sources indicate that at least eight students were killed and a further twelve injured as a result of the explosion, which was reportedly caused by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). On May 18, a VBIED exploded in the Sabon Gari district, killing five civilians according to official reports. However, these reports are contradicted by witness statements claiming that as many as 25 people were killed.
  • Unconfirmed reports indicate that between 60 and 91 women and children were abducted and 30 men were killed, in Borno State during June 19-22 raids, which were allegedly perpetrated by Boko Haram fighters.
  • Reports indicate that during the evening of June 16, a taxi laden with explosives was detonated at the entrance of a World cup viewing center in Damaturu, the capital of the northeastern state of Yobe, resulting in the death of at least 21 civilians and over 27 others injured, according to hospital sources. The explosion took place at 20:15 (local time) at the Crossfire venue, in the Nayi-Nawa area of Damaturu.
  • On June 1, suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a well-attended football viewing venue in the northeastern village of Mubi, Adamawa State killing at least 40 people through the use of explosives.
  • At least 130 people were killed in the vicinity of the Jos Market and Jos University Teaching Hospital in the Plateau State capital on May 20, when two explosions occurred within 30 minutes of each other.
  • On April 14 a bomb at a bus station in the Nyanya Area of Abuja resulted in over 80 deaths. On May 1, a further bomb at the same location caused an additional 17 deaths. Responsibility for these two attacks was claimed by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Continue reading Max Security Analysis Nigeria: Boko Haram continues high-casualty raids in rural northeast while increasing car bombing attacks in major cities nationwide June 27, 2014

Nigeria: Boko Haram continues effective insurgency in Borno State despite international intervention, emergence of local vigilantes [May 18, 2014]

“Bring Back Our Girls” protests have drawn international attention to the abduction of school girls from Chibok Government Girls’ Secondary School in Borno State by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group. The governments of the U.S., the U.K., France, China, and Israel have sent military and counterinsurgency teams to aid Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram. Despite the recent counter offensives launched in cooperation with international forces and the surfacing of  local vigilante groups, the Islamic militant group continues to operate successfully in the outlying areas of Borno State by rapidly adapting its tactics. The group has effectively targeted outlying villages and gained control of crucial access points throughout the State.

  • Boko Haram soldier
    Boko Haram soldier

    On May 7, Boko Haram militants attacked Gamborou Ngala town, located on the border between Cameroon and Nigeria, in the Ngala Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State, reportedly killing 300 locals. Meanwhile, a  further attack was recorded on the same day in Askira LGA where an additional 125 civilians were killed.

  • Citizens of Rann town in the Kala-Balge Local government Area (LGA) in Borno State repelled a Boko Haram attack on May 13, reportedly killing 200 militants.
  • On May 17, Boko Haram militants killed at least 29 civilians in a market located in Ngurosoye Village, Bama Local Government Area (LGA), 56 kilometers from Maiduguri, in the northeastern Borno State. In addition, 40 civilians were killed a result of a further attack in the village of Dalwa-Masuba in the Damboa Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State on the same day.
  • According to Amnesty International, Boko Haram attacks were responsible for over 1,200 deaths in 2013. An Amnesty report issued on March 30 of this year reports that at least 1,500 have been killed in Boko Haram-related violence in the first three months of 2014 alone.

Strategic Analysis: Military re-shuffle in Nigeria unlikely to stifle Boko Haram

Since the beginning of January, there has been a notable increase in the frequency of Boko Haram activities in Borno State, one of the three northeastern states of Nigeria currently under the state of emergency, along with Yobe and Adamawa. These increased attacks have sparked an exodus of thousands of locals from the area to Cameroon and Niger. Meanwhile, President Jonathan announced the appointment of an entirely new military defense staff in mid-January and the creation, under U.S. guidance, of new special forces units for the north.

Boko Haram fighters in Northern Nigeria

In mid-January, the creation of an Army Special Operations Command (NASOC) was announced. This special operations unit will reportedly be partially trained and equipped by the United States and is expected to have deployments in the north in addition to other at-risk areas in the country.

The high frequency of Boko Haram’s attacks in Borno throughout January indicates the group’s significant capabilities in spite of increased counterinsurgency operations in the state since May 2013. Despite the successful raid against a Boko Haram base in Damboa, this incident marks the only reported preemptive strike against the group by security forces in recent weeks. The attacks in January have been indicative of two categories of attacks: high profile operations against strategic targets in Maiduguri and attacks against isolated villages in the northeastern, border regions of Borno. Continue reading Strategic Analysis: Military re-shuffle in Nigeria unlikely to stifle Boko Haram

The Tuareg Factor

One tribe’s cooperation with various militant groups will continue to challenge stability in some of Africa’s most vital nations

By Jay R.

Since the downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya early last year, weapons proliferation throughout the Middle East and North Africa is on the rise and of primary concern. It is now widely known that masses of Libyan weaponry have made their way into the hands of such militant groups as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, and Somalia’s al-Shabaab. Libyan weaponry has traveled as far as the Gaza Strip and appeared in hand of militant groups there.

Tuareg militants en route to Libya from Mali (Sahara Times)

With the recent unrest in Somalia and Nigeria, the above-mentioned groups have been deeply reported on. However, one tribe, heavily active in Africa’s Sahel desert region is operating under the radar in comparison. The Tuareg tribe, composed of 1.2 million people, is historically nomadic. They have long roamed northwest Africa, primarily through the nations of Algeria, Libya, Mali, and Niger. Today, the group has become sedentary, the result of which has seen the Tuaregs actively engage such countries, particularly the Malian government, for stakes in power sharing and wealth benefits from the country’s natural resources.

The ongoing battle for the Tuareg’s perceived rights most recently manifested in the two-year Tuareg Rebellion in Mali and Niger from 2007-2009. This rebellion was ended through a series of peace talks and amnesty allowances; however, the conflict persists to this day as the Malian government regularly takes on the Tuareg militants along the Nigerian border.

Continue reading The Tuareg Factor

Jos: The Window into a Nigerian Civil War

By Jay R.

The collapse of Africa’s most populous nation into civil war may hinge on the stability of one unsuspecting middle belt city

Nigeria’s Middle Belt region is where the country’s Christian south and Muslim north come to a head. This convergence of religion manifests in the capital Abuja, where the equally represented populations are generally tolerant of one another. In the nearby city of Jos whose societal make up is starkly similar to the capital, religious intolerance is brewing tension to a dangerous boiling point.

Security forces rush to intervene in sectarian clashes in Jos

Over the last twenty years, Jos has been plagued by sectarian violence which has claimed thousands of lives while displacing many others. In 2010, week-long riots resulted in the death of hundreds of locals and the destruction of churches and mosques alike. This steady campaign of attacks against places of worship has made chances of reconciling these populations a seemingly insurmountable feat. The people of Jos may not yet be cognizant of this fact, but the deteriorating security situation in the rest of Nigeria may have a far more tragic impact in a place with a deeply rooted history of intolerance.

Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north has become increasingly engulfed in a violent campaign by fundamentalist violence. On January 20, Nigeria’s second city of Kano was devastated by a wave of bombings by Boko Haram Jihadists against military, police, and government installations, killing upwards of 250 people. Continuous attacks like these, along with a previous Boko Haram warning for all Christians to leave the northern states, have incited nearly 35,000 people to flee southward thus far.

These newly created refugees, who are leaving with such panic and haste that they are not bothering to bring their most valuable of possessions with them, are making way for Jos. Positioned just outside of the Muslim north, Jos provides a convenient safe haven for Christian refugees as they journey towards the friendlier south. As many of those refugees opt to remain in Jos, they threaten to alter the delicate sectarian balance in the city, paving the way for shattering the city’s hard-won peace. Continue reading Jos: The Window into a Nigerian Civil War

Nigeria’s Struggle for Stability

By Jay R.   

Sectarian-fueled insurgency, secessionist movements, and widespread discontent amongst the population are just some of the issues facing Nigeria’s first truly democratically elected leader.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathon

After his election, there was great hope for President Goodluck Jonathon amongst the populace. He was elected with 57% of the vote, after receiving significant support from the Nigeria’s youth, a key demographic in a nation whose average age is 19.  To them he represented a change from the past and would bring Nigeria to realize its true potential as Africa’s most populous nation with a plethora of oil and mineral resources.

It is clear now however, that charisma alone is not sufficient to rule a country that is so deeply rooted with sectarian divide and government corruption.  Jonathan’s obstacles were evident from the beginning when on that Election Day in April 2011, the predominantly Muslim northern states erupted in violent response to Jonathan’s success, leaving hundreds of people dead in the streets.  Continue reading Nigeria’s Struggle for Stability