Nigeria’s Northwest is gradually becoming another major regional theatre of violence, much like the Northeast where Boko Haram terrorists have wreaked havoc in the past ten years.
A problem, which initially appeared as localized disputes between herders and farmers over access to land, has morphed into an intractable crisis posing a major threat to national and regional security.
More in-depth studies are needed to identify and address the roots of the crisis of state legitimacy and governance affecting the region, including the security of its borders—and most importantly, the rights, dignity, and safety of its peoples.
Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, “The Judiciary and Democratization in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”, Lecture delivered at the 36th Annual Aminu Kano Memorial Symposium, Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Studies, Mambayya House, April 17, 2019.
The bandits are so brazen that they notify villages ahead of attacks, and impose illegal tolls on farmers seeking to gain access to their farms.
The irony is that despite enormous amounts being invested in military and security operations, the security situation seems to be deteriorating.
Lacking in security training, the groups are accused of criminal acts ranging from violent robbery, unlawful confiscation of properties of both bandits and their victims, and human rights abuses.
Unless something is urgently done to strengthen the legitimacy and capacity of state institutions and non-state actors, including traditional authorities to address issues of corruption and widespread poverty, the security situation may likely continue to deteriorate.
Rural banditry by all accounts is undermining security, peace, and development in Nigeria’s northwest.
While the unfolding crisis could be linked to a set of factors, the threat to security in a region already reeling from the effects of a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast cannot be over-stated.