Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Difficult Era: Nigeria Caught between Terrorism, Armed Crime, and Calls for Separatism

Sunday 28/May/2023 - 10:42 PM
The Reference
Ahmed Adel

Nigeria is grappling with the spread of terrorist movements in the north and separatist movements in the south, which has plunged the country into a state of severe turmoil in the political landscape, rendering it in a sustained state of violence.

A Challenging Era

The country of Nigeria, classified as one of the most populous nations in Africa, is going through a difficult period due to major crises plaguing the country. Boko Haram's terrorism engulfs the northern region, while separatist movements dominate the south.

In the southern part of Nigeria, rebels advocate for independence, while inter-ethnic clashes continue in the central region. In the north, Boko Haram has a stronghold, controlling the entire northern territory due to the lack of security in the border areas with Niger and Chad. The rest of the country is not spared from violence, as it suffers from security disturbances from all directions.

"IPOB" and Nigerian Oil

An armed group called the "IPOB" is active in the oil-producing facilities in southern Nigeria, explaining the prevalence of separatist movements in that region. They demand independence from the central government and primarily target government institutions, seizing control of crude oil resources.

In the north, alongside the presence of Boko Haram, there is also the group Ansaru, which aligns itself with Al-Qaeda, in addition to highway robbers and tribal militias. These groups take advantage of the prevailing chaos in the country, despite the long-standing war waged by the Nigerian army.

Ominous Signs

In the same context, researcher Norhan Shararah, specializing in African affairs, stated that the current security situation in Nigeria is an ominous sign for the future of the Nigerian people and the government. Despite concerns about Boko Haram's activities after the presidential elections, armed gangs have emerged, burdening the army. These groups continue to carry out kidnappings, looting, and intimidation. With Boko Haram's terrorism in the northeast and rebels and gangs in the northwest, the Nigerian people have been suffering for several years, in addition to religious and ethnic conflicts resulting from Nigeria's complex ethnic composition, which has led to bloody clashes claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians and forcing thousands to flee.

Shararah emphasized in an exclusive statement to "The Reference" that Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and one of the wealthiest on the continent, cannot tolerate any security disruptions. She explained that with the emergence of the armed IPOB group in the south and their demand for secession and independence from the central government, Nigeria is rapidly heading towards state collapse, which is always the aim of terrorism to tighten its grip on countries.

She added that this is due to the separatists' calls for independence in the south, driven by the concentration of oil production facilities in that region, as well as the economic capital of Nigeria. She confirmed that the use of violence by the IPOB group against police officers and state institutions serves as a means of pressuring the government to meet their secessionist demands, in exchange for an ineffective response from the army that is combating terrorism across Nigeria.

She pointed out that the security situation in Nigeria is worsening day by day, with terrorism from terrorist groups, criminal gangs, and armed militias posing a threat to both the government and the people every minute.

Furthermore, with ethnic tensions rising in several states and amidst calls for secession in the volatile and oil-rich southern region, as mentioned earlier, as well as the extremist Boko Haram's pursuit of establishing an Islamic state in the northeast, there is no room for complacency in dealing with such calls. With a population of approximately 180 million people, Nigeria is divided almost equally between Christians and Muslims. Additionally, there are around 200 different ethnic groups that have coexisted largely peacefully with each other for years. However, the emergence of these separatist calls in the current security conditions is considered a red line and a threat to Nigeria's existence as a nation.