Ethnic and Regional Violence in Nigeria: Implications for National Security

By Adams, David; Ogbonnaya, Ufiem Maurice | Journal of Politics and Law, September 2014 | Go to article overview

Ethnic and Regional Violence in Nigeria: Implications for National Security


Adams, David, Ogbonnaya, Ufiem Maurice, Journal of Politics and Law


Abstract

With particular focus on Nigeria, this paper examined the security challenges posed to nation - states by "violent non-state actors" such as Boko Harram and Niger Delta Militia. It also studied the linkages between the process of globalization and the rise and expansion of these non-state actors. Findings indicated that core attributes and responsibilities of the state system such as territoriality, monopoly of means of violence and coercion, maintenance of law and order and the protection of lives and property have been challenged in the main by the preponderance of violent groups within the state. Thus, the paper recommended among other things, a thorough understanding of the operational methodologies of all ethnic and regional-based violent groups in Nigeria by national security operatives, a global agreement and cooperation to be reached among nations in various areas in order to bridge socio-economic inequalities which results in aggressive behaviours among the less privileged and reduce global insecurity. It also drew attention to the imperativeness of security sector reforms in Nigeria.

Keywords: Boko Haram, globalization, national security, Nigeria, Niger delta militancy

1. Introduction

1.1 Background Information

One fundamental responsibility of the state is the security of the life and property of its citizens. Others include the protection of its territoriality and sovereignty and the guarantee of its socio-economic and political stability. However, this protective function of the state has been threatened by the emergence of "violent non-state actors" who engage in violence and terrorism-related activities. This threat has been accentuated by the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Centre (WTC) in the United States by the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and similar attacks in Spain and Great Britain (Duru & Ogbonnaya, 2010). In Nigeria, incidences of kidnapping, hostage taking and militancy in the Niger Delta region and the Boko Haram insurgency in the northern states are cases in point. In Somali, the operations of religious fundamentalists and ethnic militia groups aided by international terrorist groups have crippled governmental operations and state functions. In Mali, ethnic Tuareg fighters aided by foreign terrorist groups have occasioned a complex and overlapping political, security and humanitarian crisis in the state (CNN. 3 June 2012; Francis, 2013; International Crisis Group, 2013).

Consequently, the pursuit of the protection of national security, territorial authority and sovereignty of nation-states by state actors has been on the ascendancy, assuming a global dimension. The reason is that international and local terrorism have been recognized as potent threats to the security and sovereignty of nation-states and their citizens. The rise and expansion of violent non-state actors has been engendered by the process of globalization. With the aid of globalization, violent groups have become powerful national security challengers which the nation-states in most cases are not adequately prepared to encounter (Aydinli, 2006; William, 2008).

Using Nigeria as a focus, this paper examined the security challenges posed by the militancy in the Niger Delta region and the Boko Harram insurgency in the northern states to the Nigerian state. It also proffered policy recommendations that could contribute to the policy making process on national security related issues in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Since the mid-2000s, national security crisis in Nigeria has been escalated by the rise of ethnic Ijaw militant groups in the Niger Delta region and Boko Haram insurgency in the northern states. On the one hand, militancy in the Niger Delta is regarded as a response to poverty, environmental degradation and pollution within the region occasioned by oil exploration and the operations of oil multinationals and long years of government neglect and insensitivity to the plight of the people (Ogbonnaya, 2011). …

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