A heap of weapons are seen on April 21, 2022 part of small arms and light weapons recovered from bandits during Operation Safe Haven and during the military mop up in Jos and surrounding areas in Plateau State in northcentral Nigeria. – The Nigerian military under the platform of Operation Safe Haven has handed over 517 small arms and light weapons recovered recently from bandits to the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons following successes in checking bloodletting and insecurity occasioned by the proliferation of illicit arms in circulation. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)
The issue of insecurity in Nigeria has become something of grave concern to all well-meaning citizens, most of whom continue to wonder how the country arrived at such a dastardly situation where no one is safe; and worse still, rather than abate, the problem is escalating and now totally out of control. Insecurity in Nigeria is a recurring phenomenon that threatens the well-being of its citizens.
The South West of Nigeria is plagued by a surge in cybercrime, armed robbery, kidnapping, domestic crime, extrajudicial killings, herder-farmer conflicts, ritual killings, and banditry. The South East is a haven for ritual killings, commercial crime, secessionist agitation, kidnapping, herder-farmer clashes, attacks by unknown gunmen, and banditry. The South-South remains threatened by militancy, kidnapping, and environmental agitation.
The North East has been subject to a humanitarian crisis lasting over a decade and caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and the Islamic State in West Africa Province. Meanwhile, the North West is enmeshed in illegal mining, ethno religious killings, and banditry. It is, therefore, that insecurity in Nigeria has assumed a soft spot in political stance and that it has claimed thousands of lives and extensive damage and loss of property.
Where did it all start?
Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the corrupt system has birthed the situation we have ranging from the 1963 crisis to the experience of the military coup. The 1966 coup is unarguably the ugly cornerstone for the insecurity experienced today in Nigeria.
The coup was staged and led by Igbo Christian officers, with the excuse of curbing corruption, the highest-ranking military officers from the northern parts of Nigeria, the then Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa and the Premier of the Northern Region, Ahmadu Bello from the Muslim North, lost their lives in the coup.
The immediate consequence of this coup was mutual distrust between Igbo ethnic groups and the Hausa/Fulani ethnic groups. That distrust provides strong subterranean currents driving insecurity today.
The counter-coup staged by northern military officers resulted in the killing of Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi, who seized power after the coup in what was considered the Igbo’s conspiratorial plot to control the country. This leads us to the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War which brought several baggage items that aggravated the country’s security situation.
First, it worsened the ethnic mistrust between the Igbo and perhaps all other ethnic groups, particularly the Hausa/Fulani. Maybe, the distrust made it extremely challenging for a Nigerian of south-eastern origin to become the country’s president, further fuelling the perceived marginalisation of the region in the power control equation.
Second, the direct aftermath was the demand for Biafra, which also paved the way for the ethnic secessionist agitations and the militias of different tribes in Nigeria. The resulting Nigeria-Biafra war became the first such military confrontation in the entire continent. Many agitations for Biafra are still in place and inspire other ethnic militias to militarising their agitations.
Also, the result of the unjust killing of Niger Delta activists like Ken Saro-wiwa was the rise of the Niger Delta militia, which immediately secured the consciousness of most Niger Deltans.
The Niger Delta communities, through several of these militias, protested the unjust and uncompensated exploitation of their natural resources now wholly owned by the federal government.
The militants attacked government security agencies, government infrastructure and installations, oil exploration installations of foreign multinational companies and continuously took several foreign oil workers hostage. The Niger Delta militancy technically brought in and domesticated the kidnapping-for-ransom that is currently widely adopted by hoodlums and bandits in terrorizing the country.
Then came the 1990s, with significant climate changes such as drought and other economic challenges faced by many countries across the Sahel, which triggered a series of migrations into Nigeria. The presence of oil and the famed wealth of Nigeria made it attractive to all versions of visitors. Although these migrations were not initially crime-threatening, many immigrants were also Islamic evangelists who responded to the message of the 1979 Iranian revolution to Islamize Africa.
Nomadic pastoralists from several African countries also leverage the opportunity to master the forest pathways to the southern parts of Nigeria to search for foliage and pasture for their ruminants.
To be continued tomorrow.