Bulwark Intelligence

CURATED OSINT

CURATED OSINT, Nigeria, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

MOB VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA

Introduction: Mob violence, which is also known as jungle justice has emerged as a formidable challenge in Nigeria, casting a shadow over the nation’s security landscape. It epitomizes a vigilante form of justice, orchestrated by the populace and devoid of legal proceedings. This extrajudicial phenomenon is often carried out by a collective of onlookers, often identified as ‘street guys’ or ‘garage boys.’ These individuals assume the roles of witness, accuser, judge, and executor simultaneously, subjecting an alleged criminal or suspect to humiliation, physical abuse, or even death. According to a report by SBM intelligence, at least 391 persons have been killed by mobs across several states in Nigeria between 2019 and May 2022. In Nigeria, socio-economic disparities, ethnic tensions, and a lack of trust in law enforcement contribute to the breeding ground for such incidents. Economic frustration and political dissatisfaction can quickly escalate into collective violence, fueled by a sense of injustice and a perceived absence of viable channels for expressing grievances. Notable cases of mob action in Nigeria: Over the years, mob actions have been reported across all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria with the majority of these incidents occurring frequently in the southern parts of the country. Some of these incidents include; On 5 October 2012, in Aluu, a community in Obio-Akpor LGA of Rivers state – 4 students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) were lynched over an alleged robbery incident. On 12 May 2022, Deborah Yakubu, a 200-level college student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was killed by a mob of Muslim students over allegations of blasphemy against Islam. On 12 May 2022, a sound engineer, David Imoh, was lynched at Lekki, Lagos State by commercial motorcyclists after an altercation. On 11 April 2023, a civil engineering student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Okoli Ahinze, was beaten to death by a group of students for allegedly stealing a mobile phone. On 11 April 2023, an angry mob stoned a 35-year-old driver to death for allegedly killing 2 persons and injuring 6 others in an accident at Ijoka Road, Akure, Ondo State. On 25 June 2023, an irate mob killed a butcher, Usman Buda, over allegations of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammed in Sokoto. Security Implications: Like other forms of violence, mob attacks have impacts on the security situation of a country, these include; Erosion of Rule of Law: Mob violence undermines the rule of law, as citizens take matters into their own hands when they perceive a failure of the legal system. This erosion weakens the foundations of a stable and secure society. Impact on Economic Stability: The sporadic nature of mob violence can disrupt economic activities, particularly in urban centres. Businesses may suffer losses, and investor confidence can wane, affecting the overall economic stability of the country. Challenges to Law Enforcement: Security forces face challenges in managing and preventing mob violence due to its spontaneous nature. The lack of intelligence and preparedness can lead to difficulties in maintaining public order. Possible Countermeasures: Strategic approaches should be considered to reduce and possibly curb this trend. Here are a few; Improved Law Enforcement Training: Enhancing the training of law enforcement agencies to effectively manage and de-escalate situations is essential. This includes fostering community-oriented policing practices. Public Awareness Campaigns: Informing the public about the consequences of mob violence and promoting peaceful conflict resolution can contribute to a shift in societal attitudes. Legal Reforms: Strengthening the judicial system and addressing issues of impunity can deter individuals from resorting to mob justice. Legal reforms should aim to restore confidence in the justice system. Conclusion: Reports have shown that mob justice thrives where governance is weak and corrupt and where the criminal justice system is compromised. Other reports have linked this to poverty and prevalent crime where citizens vent their frustration on suspects. Hence addressing the menace of mob violence in Nigeria requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses social, economic, and political dimensions. The collective efforts of communities, law enforcement, and policymakers are paramount in steering the nation away from the destabilizing effects of mob violence.

CURATED OSINT, ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE, Ghana, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

2023 AKOSOMBO DAM SPILLAGE: A CASE STUDY FOR BUSINESSES

Introduction On 15 September 2023, the Akosombo Dam began a controlled spillage at 183,000 cfs/day due to the continued rise of the water level. This was reportedly increased on 9 October 2023. The Akosombo Dam – also known as the Volta Dam – is a hydroelectric dam on the Volta River in southeastern Ghana in the Akosombo gorge and part of the Volta River Authority (VRA). This is not the first time VRA has spilt water from the Akosombo Dam as similar exercises were conducted in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1991, the most recent being in 2010. The spillage exercise, described as a disaster mitigation plan, began at a very low rate with no significant impact on downstream communities until 10 October 2023, when 6 spillage gates were opened to increase the flow as water-inflow to the reservoir increased and levels approached the dam’s maximum capacity. Impacts The spillage caused the Volta River’s banks to flood, displacing residents in the Greater Accra, Volta and Eastern regions. Residents in North, Central, and South Tongu District assemblies, Asuogyaman, Shai Osudoku, and Ada district assemblies were left with power outages, submerged houses and destroyed properties. Some lagoons in the Ketae, basin overrun their banks, flooding Anlo and Keta district settlements. In the Eastern region, communities upstream including Kudikope as well as communities downstream such as Abume, Kpedzi and Dzidzorkope among others were affected by the floods. The spillage also had a terrible impact on locals who live along the Volta River downstream, with Mepe in the Volta region being the hardest hit. Initially, 8,000 people were reported to have been relocated across 8 towns, but by 19 October 2023, that number had already risen to 31,000. Overall, an estimated 39,333 Ghanaians in 192 communities have been affected by the floods. Moving Forward: Recommendations The spillage underscores the vulnerability of communities residing in close proximity to major dams and the pressing demand for comprehensive disaster management strategies. For businesses, operating in high-risk areas, it is crucial to glean insights from this disaster and proactively implement measures to minimize risks. Preparedness and Response: To respond effectively in times of crisis, companies should build thorough disaster preparedness plans in partnership with local authorities. Create communication mechanisms and relationships with emergency services to ensure a coordinated disaster response. Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Conduct regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and establish local mitigation solutions. Invest in flood barriers, pumps, and other flood-control measures to protect assets and people. Training and Awareness: Educate staff on how to manage crisis situations and raise knowledge of the significance of safety during floods and other natural disasters. Business Continuity Planning: Create and maintain solid business continuity strategies to guarantee that operations continue during and after a crisis. Consider supply chain resilience and diversification to reduce interruptions By adopting these recommendations, businesses can safeguard their interests and contribute to the resilience and well-being of the communities that bear the brunt of such disasters.  

CURATED OSINT, Ghana, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

THE UNENDING CONFLICT IN BAWKU MUNICIPALITY

Overview Ghana’s Bawku Municipality, located between latitudes 11.058430 and longitude 0.240889 in the northeastern region, has, in recent years, faced a disturbing recurrence of conflict. For decades, the two largest ethnic groups in the area, the Mamprusi and Kusasi, have been locked in a dispute over who should control the town’s chieftaincy. The escalation of this situation, which began in November 2021, has continued unabated. A key catalyst for this spike in tensions can be traced back to the enthronement of the new Bawku Naa-Ba (Chief) in Nalerigu in February 2023. The persistent conflict in Bawku poses multifaceted challenges to the region, with far-reaching implications to the nation. Peace serves as both a fundamental human entitlement and a catalyst for economic advancement, along with the attraction of foreign capital. Ghana, acknowledged historically for its political stability and societal concord, secured the prestigious position of the second most peaceful country in Africa in 2022, a recognition bestowed by the Global Peace Index (GPI). Nonetheless, the persistent turmoil in the Bawku Municipality poses a substantial challenge, endangering Ghana’s longstanding image of tranquility and security. Security Concerns Over the years, the Bawku Municipality has witnessed a disconcerting surge in a spectrum of security incidents, each posing significant challenges to the region’s stability and societal cohesion. These incidents encompass armed attacks carried out by unidentified groups, recurrent occurrences of armed robberies, communal clashes, instances of murder, the imposition of curfews, mass deployments of security forces, and an array of insecurity issues within the municipality. The amalgamation of security issues goes beyond being an isolated event; instead, it signifies an intricate network of interconnected elements. The consequences of these occurrences are beyond just disrupting the daily lives of the local populace, creating an atmosphere of discomfort and division within the community. These multifaceted security challenges can significantly impede both socio-economic progress and political stability, influencing not only the immediate boundaries of the municipality but also resonating throughout the country. Notable Incidents in 2023 The Bawku Municipality has been beset by a series of alarming security incidents, underscoring the gravity of the situation. On February 5th, the Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, revealed a sinister attempt to detonate an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) targeting a bridge within the municipality. This incident signaled an alarming escalation in the tactics employed by those perpetrating these security breaches. On July 18th, a deeply unsettling event transpired when armed individuals ambushed a commercial vehicle traveling from Bolga to Bawku. The assailants set the vehicle ablaze and left the vehicle’s driver dead. The passengers, though managing to escape, experienced severe injuries. This episode unfolded near Bazua market on the Bolga-Bawku Road, further underscoring the audacity and brazenness of such attacks. Yet another distressing incident was reported within the same municipality on October 24th. An armed attack occurred at a local drinking establishment near the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) in Zebilla, resulting in three casualties, one of whom tragically lost their life. This incident was marked by intermittent gunfire from the armed attackers, eventually leading to a face-off with security forces at a checkpoint. Subsequently, the aftermath of this encounter required the continuation of security operations in the surrounding area. Regrettably, the wave of violence has persisted, with a reported attack on National Security personnel along the Garu-Bawku Road as recently as October 24th. While precise casualty figures remain unconfirmed, it was reported that the assailants fired upon the bulletproof vehicle used by the security personnel, marking yet another alarming episode in the ongoing security crisis. Government’s Response A government-initiated program in 2014 , known as the “1-month amnesty” was established to address the proliferation of firearms and ammunition in the region. Under this initiative, residents of the Bawku Municipality were allowed to voluntarily exchange their firearms and ammunition for cash. This operation yielded some success, with a notable number of residents choosing to comply with the program. However, on July 17th, in direct reaction to a surge in violence marked by intense gunfire echoing across the vicinity, a significant deployment of security forces was observed within the Bawku Municipality. This included the presence of armed soldiers, armored vehicles, and pickup trucks equipped with mounted machine guns patrolling the streets. These measures were implemented with the primary objective of containing and mitigating the prevailing violence. Prior to that on May 5th, recognizing the urgent need for enhanced security, the government took a proactive step by deploying over 500 soldiers. This contingent comprised specialized units, such as special purpose investigation and intelligence teams, as well as crime combat teams. This deployment was intended to bolster security efforts and provide a robust response to the security challenges plaguing the municipality. Recommendations The imperative of ensuring the security and well-being of Bawku Municipality residents necessitates a range of strategic recommendations to tackle the current security challenges. These measures, rooted in community-oriented approaches and law enforcement enhancement, are outlined below: Fostering Community Engagement and Dialogue: Advocate for an environment of open and inclusive dialogue within the community to effectively identify and address grievances and disputes through peaceful channels. Encourage collaboration among local leaders, religious figures, and community members to facilitate reconciliation and conflict resolution processes. Strengthening Law Enforcement: Foster collaboration between law enforcement agencies to enhance intelligence-gathering capabilities and proactively police the region, thereby preventing security incidents. Amplifying Surveillance and Monitoring: Allocate resources to the acquisition of surveillance systems and technology, which can be employed to monitor critical areas and identify potential security threats. Institute an efficient reporting and response system to address security incidents promptly and effectively. Promoting Community Policing: Advocate for community policing programs that encourage collaboration between residents and law enforcement, thereby nurturing trust and facilitating the collection of vital local intelligence. Deploy community liaison officers who can bridge the gap between the police and the community, ensuring smoother communication and cooperation. Disarmament Initiatives: Continue and expand upon initiatives to incentivize residents to voluntarily surrender their firearms through amnesty programs. Implement stringent regulations and penalties for illegal possession of firearms, thereby

CRIME, CURATED OSINT, INTELLIGENCE, Nigeria, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

UNMASKING THE COMPLEXITIES OF BANK ROBBERIES IN NIGERIA: TRENDS, CHALLENGES, AND SECURITY MEASURES

Introduction In recent years, bank robberies have emerged as a persistent security concern in Nigeria, leaving behind a trail of substantial financial losses, loss of lives, and enduring trauma in the affected communities. The landscape of bank robberies in Nigeria has undergone a notable transformation. Initially, these events were typified by armed criminals boldly infiltrating banks in broad daylight, relying on sheer force to intimidate bank personnel and patrons, and departing with substantial sums of money. On October 20, Otukpo, a town in Benue State, bore witness to a daring bank robbery. This audacious act targeted four banks within the town, sending shockwaves throughout the community. The armed robbers entered these banking institutions, brandishing firearms that struck fear into the hearts of all present. As the robbers began discharging their weapons, shattering glass, and sowing chaos, a state of panic ensued, prompting people, both bank clients and staff, to seek refuge. Robbers stormed four commercial banks killing many in Otukpo Benue State. Image source: Premium Times Trends in Nigeria The years spanning from 2020 to 2023 exposed a disconcerting pattern of criminal activities associated with bank robberies in Nigeria. During this timeframe, several distinctive trends emerged, offering insights into the changing landscape of these incidents: Selective Targets: Commercial banks located in urban and semi-urban areas became the prime focus of these criminal activities. The rationale behind this was the potential for more substantial financial gains, making these institutions attractive targets. Violence Escalation: Bank robbery incidents frequently escalated into violent confrontations. Perpetrators employed a combination of force and intimidation to achieve their objectives, leading to unfortunate casualties among police personnel and innocent civilians. Heightened Sophistication: Criminals began employing increasingly sophisticated tactics in their endeavours. This involved measures like disabling surveillance systems to avoid detection and arrest, further complicating law enforcement efforts. Collaborative Criminal Networks: A noticeable development was the emergence of criminal networks and collaborations. This made it more challenging for law enforcement agencies to combat these crimes, as criminals shared information, tactics, and resources, effectively complicating the security landscape. Nationwide Impact: Bank robberies were not restricted to a specific locality but rather had a nationwide footprint. States in north-central, south-west, and south-south Nigeria have experienced a notable number of incidents over the years. Prosecution Predicaments: Successful prosecution of suspects remained a significant challenge. Issues related to evidence collection, witness protection, and the legal process collectively hampered efforts in this regard. Challenges Faced in Navigating the Complex Landscape The issue of bank robberies in Nigeria is further compounded by several critical challenges. Among them, a prominent concern is the inadequate investment in security infrastructure and personnel training. Many banks rely on antiquated security systems that are ill-prepared to combat the ever-evolving tactics employed by contemporary criminals. Additionally, the limited collaboration between security agencies and financial institutions impedes the seamless exchange of crucial intelligence and information necessary for proactive prevention. Ineffective law enforcement capabilities present yet another formidable hurdle. The culprits often evade justice due to resource constraints, a lack of training, and a shortage of investigative expertise within Nigerian law enforcement agencies. This absence of accountability has, regrettably, emboldened criminals, leading to an unrelenting cycle of rising crime rates. Socio-economic Impacts The impact of bank robberies on Nigerian society runs deep, leaving lasting impressions and significant consequences. It goes beyond the immediate financial losses experienced by the banks. The trauma endured by victims and the wider community is immeasurable. These robberies often lead to casualties, not just among bank employees but also innocent customers and in some cases, bystanders. The violence and fear associated with such encounters create enduring emotional wounds, affecting not only those directly involved but also witnesses who bear witness to these terrifying incidents. This emotional distress can cast a lingering shadow over the affected communities, eroding their sense of safety and well-being. On an economic front, the ramifications are equally substantial. Bank robberies can disrupt local businesses particularly if the targeted banks are central to the financial transactions within the community. Additionally, the expenses incurred in rebuilding and enhancing security measures can place financial burdens on both the banks and the broader society. Mitigation Measures Using a Holistic Security Approach Addressing the intricate challenge of bank robberies in Nigeria necessitates a comprehensive strategy encompassing both preemptive and responsive actions. The following recommendations aim to fortify security: Modernized Security Infrastructure: A foremost consideration is the imperative need for Nigerian banks to allocate resources towards enhancing their security infrastructure. This involves adopting state-of-the-art surveillance, access control, and alarm systems capable of effectively countering contemporary criminal strategies. Training and Awareness: A robust training regimen for bank personnel should be an ongoing commitment aimed at augmenting their capacity to identify and respond to potential threats. Simultaneously, empowering customers through education can foster increased vigilance, reinforcing the security fabric. Strengthened Collaborative Frameworks: Enhanced cooperation between banks, law enforcement agencies, and security firms is pivotal. Establishing an efficient platform for information exchange can expedite intelligence dissemination, resulting in more prompt and targeted threat responses. Legal Revisions: Advocating for stricter penalties concerning bank robbery and cybercrime is a critical measure. The augmentation of the legal framework and the expeditious prosecution of culprits can serve as potent deterrents. Community Participation: Actively involving local communities in the battle against bank robberies has proven to be exceptionally effective. Initiatives such as community policing, neighbourhood watch programmes, and public awareness campaigns all contribute to a reduction in incidents. Cybersecurity Vigilance: Given the growing role of cyberattacks in the realm of bank robberies, financial institutions should allocate resources to implement robust cybersecurity measures. The employment of cybersecurity experts to safeguard digital assets is paramount. Conclusion The surge in bank robbery incidents within Nigeria from 2020 to 2023 serves as a compelling reminder of the pressing need for comprehensive security reforms. The evolving patterns, characterized by an uptick in occurrences, heightened tactical ingenuity, and a wider geographical reach, present a formidable challenge. Yet, the existing hurdles, which include outdated security infrastructure and the inadequacy of law enforcement capabilities, only

CURATED OSINT, ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE, GEOPOLITICAL ANALYSIS, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

THE ESCALATING ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: IMPLICATIONS FOR AFRICA

Introduction The year 2023 has undeniably been a year marked by significant geopolitical developments that have reshaped the global landscape of human relations and foreign policies. Without a doubt, there has been a consistent escalation of emerging threats and conflicts. One of these includes the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict which intensified when Hamas, a Gaza-based militant group, launched an attack along the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. More than 1,400 Israeli and Palestinian fatalities have been recorded while 199 hostages have been held by Hamas militants since the attack. This has prompted a global shift in sentiment following the declaration of war, resulting in reactions from allies, detractors, sympathizers, and apathetic observers. Context The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has its roots in historical grievances, territorial disputes, and religious sentiments. Reflecting on the history of Israel and Palestine before and after 1948 and the Balfour Declaration is essential to understanding the roots of this conflict. Hamas’ attacks have alluded to the broader context of the escalating conflict. As diverse nations call for de-escalation, some maintain a steadfast stance in line with individuals subscribing to religious sentiments. In retrospect, the conflict has been fueled by territorial disputes that have deepened through attacks by militias and revolutionary groups aiming to protect their territories. Implications for Africa The positions taken by various African countries are influenced by public sentiment, diplomatic interest and religious affiliations. From Kenya, Sudan, and Algeria, to South Africa, the reverberations of this conflict have reached far and wide hence, this conflict presents a concern to the continent. African nations are affected to varying degrees, by foreign policies contingent on their diplomatic ties, economies, political ideologies, and the presence of Israeli and Palestinian diaspora communities. The evolving global landscape has broad implications for diplomatic relations and manifests as protest actions mainly in some Northern and Western African countries, as well as some regions in the south. Given that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict possesses religious elements involving Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it has the potential to sow religious polarisation in countries like Nigeria. If the conflict escalates and becomes perceived through a religious lens, it could exacerbate existing tensions between Nigerian Muslims and Christians, particularly in the northern zones of the country. Such polarization could lead to inter-religious conflicts, a challenge Nigeria has encountered in the past. Conclusion It is worth noting that some African nations may face diplomatic strains because of their political affiliations concerning Israel. In addition to the rising production costs due to escalating prices, which have been noticeable since the beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian war, this conflict could have ramifications on the continent particularly as both Israel and Palestine are key players in Africa. In 2021, nearly two-thirds of Israel’s trade is conducted with South Africa, while Nigeria stands as the second most significant trading partner, with a trade value of $129 million. Meanwhile, there was a 34% increase in trade volume between 2009 and 2021 from Palestinian exports, including olive oils and food products.  

CRIME, CURATED OSINT, Ghana, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

ATTACKS ON BULLION VANS: A SECURITY ISSUE AFFECTING CASH TRANSPORTATION IN GHANA

Overview Last week, reports of a brazen daylight armed robbery attack on a bullion van at Ablekuma Fanmilk, a suburb of Accra in the Greater Accra region went viral across Ghana. The seemingly coordinated attack raises concerns about the security of transporting valuable assets- particularly for financial institutions, prioritizing the safety of police officers and the unregulated use of motorbikes which are often used to carry out these attacks. The Attack On the afternoon of 22nd June 2023, the bullion van made a stop at the Star Oil fuel station in Ablekuma to, supposedly collect cash. A gang of four robbers, riding motorcycles, intercepted the vehicle as it parked killing a police officer seated in the front passenger seat. A review of the CCTV footage, which has been circulating online, showed the attackers making away with two bags, presumably contained with money. In the aftermath of the incident, videos circulated widely on social media, capturing bystanders frantically assisting the injured officer out of the car however, he succumbed to his injuries. Responding to this distressing event, the Ghana Police Service declared a manhunt to apprehend the individuals responsible. Similar Robbery Attacks Over the past few years, there have been a string of robbery attacks on bullion vans across the country with a percentage of them resulting in the death or injury of police personnel. 4 attacks were recorded in the first half of 2021 alone. Here is a timeline of some incidents that garnered much media attention between 2021-2022.  January 2021- Robbers attacked a bullion van at Fomena in the Ashanti Region and carted away with GH¢500,000. The suspects killed a policeman during the attack. March 2021- Robbers attacked and assaulted the driver of a bullion van and stole money on Spintex Road in Accra. June 2021- Robbers opened fire on a bullion van at Adedenkpo, James Town, killing a police officer on escort duties and making away with an unspecified amount of money. A female bystander was also killed by a stray bullet, while the driver of the vehicle sustained injuries. June 2021- A bullion van was attacked at the Okyereko and Dominase section of the Winneba-Accra highway. Aside from the driver, the van was occupied by two policemen with an amount of ¢550,000 on board. February 2022- Police personnel foiled an attempted bullion van robbery at Industrial Area in Accra. Measures In light of the recent attack, the Association of Bullion Operators Ghana (ABOG) announced that effective 1st July 2023, there will be a complete cessation of the use of non-armoured vehicles for cash transportation purposes. But this isn’t the first time measures were taken in response to an such incident. Following the attack in June 2021, the Ghana Police Service expressed apprehension regarding the safety of its personnel. The concern stemmed from using inadequate bullion vans by banks to transport funds between locations. Mr James Oppong Boanuh, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), conveyed a strong warning, indicating the potential withdrawal of police escorts assigned to bullion vans if the banks failed to procure armoured bullion vans by the end of June 2021.  Recommendations These incidents show the difficulties that organizations and security companies face while transporting valuable items. These incidents often have severe repercussions ranging from financial loss to reputational harm and psychological distress to victims of the attacks. These implications show the need for proactive security measures and adaptive security techniques.   Route Planning and Risk Assessments: To reduce predictability, companies and security firms must regularly analyze and adjust transportation routes. A thorough risk assessment of criminal hotspots and potential ambush points should be examined.   Reinforced Physical Security: All bullion vehicles must be outfitted with cutting-edge security technologies such as surveillance cameras, panic buttons, and bulletproofing. Unauthorized access to assets can be avoided by using secure containers with many layers of security.   Trained Personnel: Security personnel should undergo extensive training programs involving defensive driving, situational awareness, and effective response to potential threats. Regular drills and simulations can help them become more prepared.   Liaising with Law Enforcement: Collaboration is essential among businesses and law enforcement agencies. Regular information sharing, combined training exercises, and intelligence-driven operations can all help to strengthen overall security. Conclusion In the financial sector, cash handling and transportation, commonly referred to as cash-in-transit (CIT), are crucial hence the recent robbery attack, as well as the other attacks that preceded it, highlights the risks involved in transporting valuable assets. It’s imperative for financial institutions and security companies to take a holistic approach to address these issues through route planning, reinforcing physical security measures, personnel training and liaising with law enforcement.  The incident also serves as a reminder for the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities. 

CRIME, CURATED OSINT, INTELLIGENCE, Nigeria, Reports, SECURITY THREATS, Travel

ATTACK ON UNITED STATES EMBASSY STAFF IN ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA.

  Overview On Tuesday, May 16, an attack took place in the Amiyi/Eke Ochuche communities of Ogbaru Local Government Area, Anambra State, resulting in the death of four staff members of the United States Embassy in Nigeria. The attackers also set the bodies of the victims and their vehicles ablaze before fleeing the scene. The incident occurred during a medical outreach program, where residents were waiting to receive medical treatment from UNICEF officials when their vehicle was ambushed. Current Situation Attack Details: The assailants targeted the convoy of U.S. Consulate staff along the Atani-Osamale road. Two Police Mobile Force operatives and two staff members of the Consulate were killed in the attack. The attackers abducted two police operatives and the driver of the second vehicle.  Rescue/Recovery Operation: Joint security forces have launched a rescue/recovery operation in Ogbaru LGA to locate the perpetrators and apprehend them. The operation aims to ensure the safe recovery of any abducted individuals and restore security in the area. Security Forecast/Outlook Potential for Escalation: The attack on the United States Embassy staff highlights the potential for further acts of violence by extremist groups or criminal elements seeking to disrupt diplomatic activities and undermine security in the region. There is a possibility of retaliation or subsequent attacks targeting similar vulnerable targets. Response and Recommendations Heightened Security Measures: Embassies and Humanitarian outfits should review and enhance security protocols for its staff and facilities in Nigeria, considering the current threat landscape. This includes conducting regular risk assessments, implementing robust access control measures, and strengthening security training and awareness programs. Communication and Coordination: Improved communication and coordination between diplomatic missions, Nigerian authorities, and local security forces are essential to prevent such attacks and enhance security for all personnel involved in humanitarian missions. Situational Awareness: Diplomatic and Humanitarian Staff members should be reminded to maintain a high level of situational awareness, closely monitoring their surroundings and reporting any suspicious activities or individuals to local authorities and diplomatic or organization security department. Travel Security: Adequate travel security measures should be implemented, including pre-travel risk assessments, appropriate security escorts or support, and adherence to established travel protocols, especially in high-risk areas. Incident Response and Crisis Management: The Embassy should ensure that staff members are well-informed about incident response and crisis management procedures. Regular drills and training sessions can enhance their readiness to handle potential security incidents effectively. Conclusion The attack on United States Embassy staff in Anambra State highlights the importance of maintaining robust security measures and close collaboration with Nigerian authorities. The Embassy should continue working closely with local law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent future incidents. Implementing the recommended security measures will help mitigate risks, safeguard the well-being of Embassy staff, and ensure the success of any humanitarian mission in Nigeria. The incident serves as a reminder for the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities. Heightened public awareness and engagement can act as a force multiplier in maintaining security and detecting potential threats.

CURATED OSINT, CYBER SECURITY, GEOPOLITICAL ANALYSIS, Nigeria, POLITICS, Reports

NIGERIA’S 2023 ELECTIONS AND SUSTAINED ONLINE POLITICAL FANATICISM: ACHIEVING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.

Background The increasing need for change in the country has manifested in all facets of our society, and the just concluded general elections was a testament to this change, marred by instance’s of irregularities, political participation has largely taken the shape of “sheep following” or “herd following.” With the internet being a major tool for driving the evolution of youth political participation in Nigeria politics, so have the vices that come with it. As Oluwasola Festus Obisesan puts it, “Youths, through the use of social media, have not only evolved from an identity of stable consumers of news and political narratives but have also become sources of news feeds and trendy agenda framers concerning leadership, accountability, and good governance within the polity.” Misinformation ???? https://t.co/zlRiWWQMlu — Attah Jesse (@JesseAOA) February 9, 2023 This evolution and enthusiasm for political participation have witnessed an ugly trend of cyberbullying and propaganda, driven by identity politics, which continues to shape the perception and opinions of many Nigerians. With less and less objectivity, we continue to witness less democratic attitudes amongst partisans but more sensationalism with an ounce of conspiracy theory bandwagoning. Why is political fanaticism growing in popularity now? To begin with, the pre-election session witnessed an unusual and highly charged political atmosphere, with much anticipation of a new dawn in Nigerian politics. Among other things, the process was marred by various forms of armed violence, allegations of state-sponsored stifling of opposition activities, and cyberbullying. As we all know, technology was one of many key factors that grow the populations involvement in the 2023 electioneering process, with the introduction of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the accreditation process, which also doubles down as a means for the transmission of results to the Independent Electoral Election Commission (INEC) Result Viewing Portal (IREV). Yet, the fact that agreed-upon transmission processes were not followed or were suspended midway during the election, breached the trust of many Nigerians at a critical time of the process, and hence increased suspicions of malpractice and other forms assumptions within the political environment already overridden by all sorts of political and election propaganda. The country’s current situation is exacerbated by reduced expectations of the trustworthiness of INEC procedures and perceived complicity of the country’s judiciary, in that, seeking redress may be met by irregularities in the courts’ due to allegations of political pressure to influence the process. There is also a dangerous rise in radical political fanaticism against the backdrop of increased ethnic violence, cyberbullying, propaganda (misinformation and disinformation campaigns), and the possibility of deteriorating human rights, which will dramatically impact the nation’s polity, hence, putting the president-elect and his new democratic cabinet in a predicament of governing a fractured nation with multifaceted political concerns. What is political fanaticism? In Nigeria, political fanaticism has largely been described as “sheep following” or “herd following,” in which adherents lack any sense of personal opinions that could form the basis of a critique in checking the actions of government or political leaders but rather agree with whatever decisions are made regardless of the outcome, good or bad. This is generally observed when party supporters push a candidate as the final answer to a country’s multifarious issues, such as the ones faced in Nigeria, while others (read: candidates) are eventually viewed as inept and incorrect. Characteristics of fanaticism among partisans frequently includes the incapacity to seek or consider alternate points of view but try to push values on others, often resulting in physical and verbal harassment of persons. Political fanaticism may frequently rise to varying degrees of political radicalism, and in a society kept together by fragile peace and a high proclivity for violence, especially when played out along Nigeria’s fault lines of tribe and religion, it creates mediums that lead to political extremism. Political extremism is common among groups that proclaim unrealistic expectations in order to attain political aspirations without crafting well-thought-out democratic plans. This has frequently resulted in groups picking up arms and embracing terrorism as a mode of operation for coercing governments into forced discussions, which has resulted in a protracted conflict in Nigeria in circumstances when governments have refused to succumb to such groups. Is online political fanaticism new in Nigeria? 2022/23 will not be the first time we observe a rise in cyberbullying, in relation to political party support. Intriguingly, harmful internet engagement in Nigerian elections may be traced back to 2014, the pre-election year preceding the 2015 General Elections. During this period, intense internet clashes erupted between the then-ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC). Yet, it is worth noting that there were some opportunities to establish the groundwork for healthy (read: issue-based) constructive criticism. For instance, upon registration of the APC on July 31, 2013, the PDP’s congratulatory message described the party’s emergence as “very healthy for our democracy.” This again was conveyed in a congratulatory message after the election of its National Executives on June 14, 2014. The message read in part, “Ensure an issue-based opposition that will purposefully and constructively engage and challenge the PDP with decency and maturity as prescribed by democratic tenets and principles.” However, during the campaigning period for the 2015 General Elections, these expectations significantly fell short of expectations and were instead championed by the rhetoric of division over national interest, adopting varying forms of propagandistic prowess. The two main parties’ antecedents in terms of online propaganda and its incubation of an army of trolls will continue to be a benchmark of how campaigns will run, which has continued to usher in violence, hate speech, and the exploitation of Nigerian fault lines all for the sake of partisan interest over national interest, as depicted in 2019 and worse in 2022/23. As the popular saying goes, “If you can’t beat them. Join them” Overtime we have seen political fanaticism only get dangerous, making the political environment extremely toxic to the point where certain actors accommodate attacks particularly when it aligns with certain political bias. Remember the Abuja Train

CURATED OSINT, CYBER SECURITY, DEFENSE, GLOBAL SECURITY, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

WHAT NIGERIA SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THE U.S INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY’S ANNUAL THREAT ASSESSMENT OF 2023

Every year, in response to the U.S.’ Intelligence Authorization Act, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) compiles a detailed report about worldwide threats to their country’s national security. The 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community came out, and I read through it to see if there was anything interesting as it pertains to Mother Africa, specifically Nigeria. Long story short, Nigeria was not mentioned, but West Africa was mentioned in a short paragraph on page 38 of 39, where they referenced regions and countries that will likely struggle with democracy and governance. It said regarding West Africa: “Across the continent, governments will face difficulties in meeting public demands amid food shortages, commodity price spikes, declining socioeconomic conditions, and the stresses of extreme weather events and insecurity. In addition, the prevalence of ageing autocrats, disruptions to fragile ethnic power balances, and protracted transitions from post-coup military regimes to civilian rule are likely to undermine prospects for stable governance in more than a dozen countries. In West Africa, a volatile mixture of democratic backsliding, states’ inability to provide security, and terrorist expansion will continue to threaten the region’s stability. The West African public has become disillusioned with how elected leaders have governed, particularly their failure to adhere to democratic governance norms and manipulation of institutions, which could lead to increased protests absent government reforms.“ DEMOCRACY IN JEOPARDY From that little excerpt, the I.C was already predicting that democratic rule in West Africa is going to be a challenge (cue in Nigeria). The inability to elect effective leaders due to institutional repression, coupled with ongoing insecurity and deteriorating socio-economic conditions, will likely lead to increased protests in the region, further threatening democratic governance fairly and justly. This is apt when you consider the recently concluded elections in Nigeria, which have left much of the populace disillusioned. INCREASE IN MILITARY CONFLICT There’s going to be an increasing military ramp up across the world. More countries will continue to invest in their militaries, which could increase the risk of conflict escalation. This is further exacerbated by the current war, coupled with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased poverty, hindered economic growth, and widened inequality, raising the conditions that are ripe for domestic unrest, insurgencies, democratic backsliding, and authoritarianism. CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT Climate change is going to pose a global threat that is going to keep affecting Africa through increased resource constraints, which are projected to grow, as well as an increased risk of conflict that will occur with the migration of people. It is going to affect the global economy, which will equally impact the continent. According to the report, “droughts in 2022 decreased shipping capacity and energy generation in China, Europe, and the United States, and insured losses from [weather] catastrophes have increased by 250 percent during the past 30 years”. Bottom line: We need to get our emergency and disaster management acts together. Scientific projections are depicting droughts and flooding in the coming year. We will need to ensure we have the right emergency response frameworks and resources to tackle this. CYBER THREAT: SURVEILLANCE AND SPYWARE Advanced intelligence and cybertools are now commercially available for more governments to use, including repressive ones. According to the report, “the commercial spyware industry—which makes tools that allow users to hack digital devices such as mobile telephones to surveil users—grew rapidly during the past decade and is now estimated to be worth $12 billion“. I always talk about the importance of investing in defense manufacturing capabilities so that our minds can develop these tools in-country, minimize importation, and instead export these capabilities and grow the economy. Well, cyber intelligence tools are a $12 billion industry. Africa needs to be developing some of these tools as well and getting in on the market. But I digress. These spyware tools aid mass technical surveillance, censorship, and spyware, which governments could use towards targeting oppositions and digital repression. In other words, the next time a digitally organized EndSARs like protest is about to spring up, the government will likely have greater capacity to squash it in cyberspace before it gains physical traction. In addition, these tools can also assist with influence operations aimed at shaping how the outside world views the government. This means an active genocide could be going on in a country, but people on the outside will only see videos of cute cats and puppies. These cyber tools could also be used in offensive capacities aimed at controlling the governance of another nation by creating social and political upheavals in some other countries to sway voters perceptions, perspectives, and preferences, which ultimately will allow them to elect officials that will shift policies in favour of the attacking government. CYBERTHREAT: RANSOMWARE Transnational ransomware attackers are improving their capabilities and will continue to execute high-impact ransomware attacks aimed at disrupting critical services and exposing sensitive data for the purpose of extorting funds. Governments worldwide are targets. The attacks are only going to get more sophisticated and persistent. Our cyber detection and response capabilities must be enhanced and continually upgraded as a matter of national security. TERRORISM ISIS West Africa will continue to pose a threat in the region. AQIM will continue to extort weak border security in west Africa, expand territorial control, and challenge local security forces. Terror groups keep using their Telegram network of channels, ‘Terrorgram’, to circumvent content moderation. CHINA IS NOT PLAYING The report was clear in its insinuation that China is no joke, and according to the U.S. Intelligence Community, it currently represents the biggest threat to the U.S. Reading through the document, you can quickly see why. China is making rapid gains on all fronts and across all sectors. INCREASING CHINESE MILITARY MIGHT Militarily, the PLA Navy and Air Force are already the largest in the region and continue to field advanced platforms rapidly. The I.C agreed that “the PLA Rocket Force’s (PLARF) short-, medium-, and intermediate-range conventional systems probably already can hold U.S.

CURATED OSINT, CYBER SECURITY, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS, Technology

PART 2: NATIONAL SECURITY, CYBER RISKS, GEOPOLITICAL, CAREER, AND EDUCATIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE-CHATGPT

The Geopolitical Upshots of Artificial Intelligence, ChatGPT ChatGPT seem to be engendering geopolitical competition between world powers. Ideally, ChatGPT should be accessible anywhere in the world with internet connectivity, but this is far from the reality. Some countries, especially authoritarian regimes such as  China, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, implement censorship and surveillance to monitor internet usage and restrict the use of ChatGPT due to geopolitical and national security concerns. China leads the pack. Though not officially available in China, ChatGPT caused quite a stir there. Some users are able to access it using tools such as virtual private network (VPN) or third-party integrations into messaging apps such as WeChat to circumvent its censorship by the Chinese government. Japan’s Nikkei news service reported that Chinese tech giants, Tencent and Ant Group were told not to use ChatGPT services on their platforms, either directly or indirectly because there seem to be a growing alarm in Beijing over the AI-powered chatbot’s uncensored replies to user queries. Writing on Foreign Policy, Nicholas Welch and Jordan Schneider cited a recent writeup by Zhou Ting (dean of the School of Government and Public Affairs at the Communication University of China) and Pu Cheng (a Ph.D. student) who argued that, ‘’the dangers of AI chatbots include becoming a tool in cognitive warfare, prolonging international conflicts, damaging cybersecurity, and exacerbating global digital inequality. Zhou and Pu alluded to an unverified ChatGPT conversation in which the bot justified the United States shooting down a hypothetical Chinese civilian balloon floating over U.S. airspace yet answered that China should not shoot down such a balloon originating from the United States. According to Shawn Henry, Chief Security Officer of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, “China wants to be the No. 1 superpower in the world and they have been targeting U.S. technology, U.S. personal information. They’ve been doing electronic espionage for several decades now”. A report from the cybersecurity company Feroot, said TikTok App can collect and transfer your data even if you’ve never used App. “TikTok can be present on a website in pretty much any sector in the form of TikTok pixels/trackers. The pixels transfer the data to locations around the globe, including China and Russia, often before users have a chance to accept cookies or otherwise grant consent, the Feroot report said’’. The top three EU bodies – European Parliament, European Commission, and the EU Council, the United States, Denmark, Belgium, Canada, Taiwan, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, have all banned TikTok especially on government devices, citing cybersecurity concerns. New Zealand became the latest country on March 17 to announce the ban of TikTok on the phones of government lawmakers at the end of March 2023. Not to be outflanked, Chinese company, Baidu is set to release its own AI-powered chatbot. Another Chinese e-commerce platform, Alibaba is reportedly testing ChatGPT-style technology. Alibaba christened its artificial intelligence language model: DAMO (Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook). Another Chinese e-commerce says its “ChatJD” will focus on retail and finance while TikTok has a generative AI text-to-image system. Education And Plagiarism In The Age of ChatGPT The advent of ChatGPT unnerved some universities and academics around the world. As an illustration, a 2,000-word essay written by ChatGPT, helped a student get the passing grade in the MBA exam at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Apart from the Wharton exam that ChatGPT passed with plausibly a B or B- grade, other advanced exams that the AI chatbot has passed so far include: all three parts of the United States medical licensing examination within a comfortable range. ChatGPT recently passed exams in four law school courses at the University of Minnesota. In total, the bot answered over 95 multiple choice questions and 12 essay questions that were blindly graded by professors. Ultimately, the professors gave ChatGPT a “low but passing grade in all four courses” approximately equivalent to a C+. ChatGPT passed a Stanford Medical School final in clinical reasoning with an overall score of 72%. ChatGPT-4 recently took other exams, including Uniform Bar Exam, Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), and the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. It aced aforesaid exams except English language and literature. ChatGPT may not always be a smarty-pants, it reportedly flunked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) ‘exam’ used by the Indian government to recruit its top-tier officials. Thus, several schools in the United States, Australia, France, India, have banned ChatGPT software and other artificial intelligence tools on school network or computers, due to concerns about plagiarism and false information. Annie Chechitelli, Chief Product Officer for Turnitin, an academic integrity service used by educators in 140 countries, submits that Artificial Intelligence plagiarism presents a new challenge. In addition, Eric Wang, vice president for AI at Turnitin asserts that, ‘’[ChatGPT] tend to write in a very, very average way’’. “Humans all have idiosyncrasies. We all deviate from average one way or another. So, we are able to build detectors that look for cases where an entire document or entire passage is uncannily average.” Dr. LuPaulette Taylor who teaches high school English at an Oakland, California is one of the those concerned that ChatGPT could be used by students to do their homework hence undermining learning.  LuPaulette who has taught for the past 42 years, listed some skills that she worries could be eroded as a result of students having access to AI programs like ChatGPT. According to her, “The critical thinking that we all need as human beings, the creativity, and also the benefit of having done something yourself and saying, ‘I did that’’. To guard against plagiarism with ChatGPT, Turnitin recently successfully developed an AI writing detector that, in its lab, identifies 97 percent of ChatGPT and GPT3 authored writing, with a very low less than 1/100 false positive rate. Interestingly, a survey shows that teachers are actually using ChatGPT more than students. The study by the Walton Family Foundation found that within only two months of introduction, 51% of 1,000 K-12 teachers reported

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