Bulwark Intelligence

Nigeria

CURATED OSINT, ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE, Nigeria

TRANSFORMER VANDALISM: A THREAT TO NIGERIA’S POWER SECTOR

Since the privatization of power distribution in 2014 in Nigeria, there has been a growing trend of transformer vandalism in parts of the country. These acts, which have implications for communities and the economy, are often driven by the need to retrieve valuable materials such as copper cables, which are melted for jewellery, as well as transformer oil, bolts, and nuts. This leads to power outages, disruption of activities, endangered lives, and, in some cases, loss of life in communities. INSIGHTS This problem is not limited to specific areas but is experienced across all geopolitical zones, disregarding security trends associated with certain regions. Ikeja Electric Plc reported that over 24 transformers were vandalized between 25 April and 9 May 2019 in Igando, located in Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos State. Similarly, between February and March 2018, the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC) stated that 100 electricity transformers were vandalized, while in October 2023, JEDC also emphasized that an average of 50 transformers were vandalized daily in its coverage area. In Edo State, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) reported that 39 transformers were vandalized between January and May 2019 while in Enugu, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) stated that over 20 transformers were vandalized across the company’s franchise network within the southeast between 11 June and 2 July 2022. In Rivers State, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) reported that 11 transformers were vandalized in different locations in the Eket Local Government Area of the state between July and December 2023. The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) reported that between March and January 2017, over 250 transformer substations valued at over N800 million were vandalized across its franchise areas. Recently, IBEDC recorded over 45 vandalism cases in 2024. In certain situations, vandals sometimes succeed in their attempts, and in other instances, they are apprehended after committing their crimes. In April 2024, six suspects were apprehended for allegedly vandalizing transformers and power substations in Damaturu, Yobe State. CAUSE AND EFFECT The repercussions of transformer vandalism are multifaceted, precipitating power outages that ripple through communities, disrupting essential services and economic activities alike. This disruption, combined with the inherent risks of electrocution and fire, emphasizes the critical need for preventive measures and strong enforcement. On 4 September 2023, an individual was electrocuted while purportedly trying to damage a transformer in the Amawbia community in the Awka South Local Council of Anambra State Economic incentives, fueled by the lucrative market for copper cables and other valuable materials, incentivize theft, amplifying the socio-economic toll. These criminal acts not only undermine productivity and revenue but also disrupt activities in affected communities. Compounding the issue, transformers often stand vulnerable in remote or inadequately guarded locations, rendering them susceptible to exploitation. This vulnerability highlights systemic shortcomings in security measures, necessitating comprehensive strategies to fortify infrastructure resilience. Moreover, lax enforcement of laws and inconsistent penalties exacerbate the problem, creating an environment of impunity. Strengthening legal frameworks and implementing stringent penalties are imperative steps toward deterring such illicit activities and safeguarding vital infrastructure. IMPACTS The vandalism of transformers presents significant societal challenges ranging from social implications, developmental degradation, educational setbacks, increased crime rates and healthcare service disruptions. These activities put a strain on community relations and compromise the quality of life resulting from truncated livelihoods dependent on power. Additionally, the prolonged power outage severely hampers the economic growth and development of the affected communities. Hospitals and clinics reliant on electricity for operations may face difficulties in providing adequate care. Additionally, educational facilities, including schools affected by power outages, may struggle to maintain consistent learning environments. It is also worth noting that recurrent blackouts create opportunities for fraud, theft, and exploitation while prolonged power outages lead to increased premeditated crime rates and limit the visibility of security operations. CONCLUSION It is imperative to recognize that transformer vandalism poses profound risks beyond mere power outages, extending to life-threatening consequences. Therefore, addressing this issue requires multi-faceted approaches such as increased security measures, community inclusion and collaborative enforcement. The installation of security cameras, fencing, and enhanced guard patrols at substations can serve as deterrence mechanisms to curb this worrying trend. The implementation of smart grid systems with tamper-proof features can also enhance security. It is also important to educate the public about the consequences of these acts and the significance of protecting critical infrastructure. Residents must be involved in reporting suspicious activities through community-driven initiatives. Utility companies and government agencies must also collaborate to investigate and prosecute offenders and enforce stricter penalties to disincentivize against potential offenders. Image Source: The Guardian

INTELLIGENCE, Nigeria, Reports

EMPLOYMENT SCAMS IN NIGERIA AND THE NEED FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS

One very common security threat in Nigeria although under-reported, is employment scams. This is an online criminal activity where scammers defraud unsuspecting job seekers of their money while promising to offer them jobs in renowned companies. These scams prey on the vulnerability and desperation of individuals seeking gainful employment in a country where job opportunities are often scarce and competition is fierce. When a company’s name is linked to employment scams, it loses trust and credibility with future employees, customers, and business partners. Amidst the growing concern over these scams, the necessity for public awareness and stringent background checks emerges as crucial safeguards against such fraudulent activities. Trends, Economic Context and Job Market in Nigeria In 2023, reports of employment scams continued to rank as the second most perilous type of scam worldwide, with investment scams being number one. These reports surged by 54.2% compared to the previous year. The median financial loss associated with employment scams stood at $1,995, notably exceeding the overall median loss of $100 reported across all types of scams. Concurrently, employment scams emerged as the leading concern for individuals aged between 18 and 35, particularly those embarking on their initial job searches or in the early stages of their professional journeys. Notably, this demographic segment accounts for approximately 60% of Africa’s population. According to the Nigeria Labour Force Survey Q3 2023 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria witnessed a significant increase in its unemployment rate, rising from 4.2% in Q2 2023 to 5.0% in Q3 2023. The NBS also noted a decline in the labour force participation rate among the working-age population, dropping to 79.5% in Q3 2023, down from 80.4% in Q2 2023. In Nigeria, where the unemployment rate and economic hardship remain a pressing issue, job seekers often navigate a landscape fraught with pitfalls. The promise of a lucrative job with a reputable company can blind individuals to the red flags of potential scams. Scammers capitalize on this desperation by posing as representatives of well-known organizations or recruitment agencies, offering enticing job opportunities in exchange for upfront payments or personal information. In April 2023, a former Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System desk officer at the Federal Character Commission, Haruna Kolo, admitted to collecting money from job seekers in exchange for employment. He also admitted to having received over N75m from desperate job seekers on the instructions of the Chairman of the FCC. The Nigerian Army (NA) also expressed dismay over the alarming rate of the spread of fake online recruitment information, particularly regarding the Nigerian Army Direct Short Service (DSS) Recruitment Portal for the year 2023. Modus Operandi of Scammers The modus operandi of these scammers varies, ranging from fake job postings on legitimate websites to sophisticated phishing emails targeting unsuspecting candidates. They often employ persuasive tactics, such as offering high salaries or promising quick employment, to lure victims into their trap. Once the victim takes the bait and provides the requested payment or information, the scammer disappears, leaving the individual defrauded and disheartened. Despite the prevalence of employment scams, they remain significantly under-reported in Nigeria. Another uncommon mode of practice is the use of these fake job adverts to lure victims, kidnap them, and subsequently request ransom payments from family members. In the second quarter of 2021, a 26-year-old female graduate of the University of Uyo, Iniubong Umoren responded to a job vacancy she found online and was later kidnapped, raped, and murdered. Her body was later exhumed in a shallow grave in the suspected killer’s family compound, according to a statement by the state police command. It is also worth noting that many victims feel embarrassed or ashamed to come forward, fearing further exploitation or social stigma. Moreover, the lack of effective mechanisms for reporting and tracking such incidents exacerbates the problem, allowing scammers to operate with impunity and perpetuate their fraudulent schemes. It should be noted that not only job seekers are targeted by these employment scams, but renowned companies are also targeted sometimes when these scammers pose as bigger companies seeking partnerships. Mitigating Employment Scams To combat the scourge of employment scams, there is an urgent need to raise awareness about the prevalence of employment scams and educate the public about red flags. Collaborative efforts involving government agencies, law enforcement, industry associations, and the media are essential to combatting this multifaceted problem effectively. By fostering a collective understanding of the risks associated with job hunting in Nigeria, individuals can arm themselves with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect against exploitation and deception. For employers, the spate of employment scams also highlights the need for proactive measures, chief among them being the implementation of comprehensive background checks for potential and existing staff. Background checks entail verifying the credentials, qualifications, and employment history of job applicants to ensure their legitimacy and integrity. By conducting thorough background checks, employers can mitigate the risk of falling victim to fraudulent schemes and protect their organizations from reputational damage.

CURATED OSINT, Nigeria, Reports

NIGERIA, A NATION ON EDGE: UNRAVELING THE LINK BETWEEN ECONOMIC HARDSHIP AND UNREST

Driven by soaring inflation and a rapidly depreciating currency, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, finds itself in the grip of a severe economic crisis. The significant decline of the Nigerian currency has impacted businesses and citizens, prompting the need for dire solutions. From January 2023 to February 2024, the country witnessed a significant decline in the official exchange rate, plunging by 66% from 462 Naira per US dollar to 1700 Naira per US dollar. Simultaneously, this reflects an alarming gap that has impacted both local and foreign businesses operating within the country. Likewise, criminality and kidnappings have been on the rise, an effect of the current crisis. The hardships have also led to protests and unrest in the country. Economic Hardship In January 2024, inflation reached a debilitating 29.9%, the highest in decades, driven by soaring food prices. This harsh reality pushes nearly 46% of the population below the poverty line, making it difficult for them to afford necessities. Unemployment, especially among the youth, is alarmingly high with a 5.0% surge in Q3 of 2023. There is widespread political instability and corruption, further eroding public trust in institutions following the allegations or irregularities that marred elections held in February, March, and November of 2023. In addition, the country’s 16th President was sworn in on 29 May 2023, ushering in a new era of political actors and the imposition of pivotal policies i.e., the removal of fuel subsidies. Citizens anticipate further policy changes and the influence of external actors on domestic politics, adding complexity to an already volatile situation with anticipated pushbacks from labour unions and aggrieved citizens. Economic Crisis as a Breeding Ground for Criminality and Social Upheaval Nigeria’s economic crisis, with skyrocketing inflation and unemployment, pushes individuals towards perilous choices. Criminal activities have been fueled by the economic crisis, with threat actors exploiting the situation to vandalize public infrastructure as witnessed during the currency scarcity in February 2023. Additionally, the surge in crime and kidnapping highlights the link between hardship and crime. Some resort to kidnapping for survival, viewing it as a quick means to obtain resources. Others are lured by the seemingly easy profit, especially amidst reports of exorbitant ransoms paid for high-profile victims. High youth unemployment breeds frustration and resentment, creating a fertile ground for recruitment by criminal groups. Witnessing inequality and a lack of upward mobility can push some towards acts of violence as a way to express their anger and challenge the perceived unfairness of the system. Ultimately, the surge in kidnappings in Nigeria paints a stark picture of how economic hardship, political instability, and social injustices can intertwine to create a desperate and volatile environment Political instability fuels this crisis further. Weak governance and corruption act as recurrent factors, eroding public trust and leaving communities vulnerable. This lack of accountability incentivizes criminal activity, knowing the chances of capture and prosecution are low. Adding to the mix is the lack of opportunities and perceived injustice. Economic downturns can lead to unrest by igniting resentment. Demonstrations to express discontent have begun across Nigeria as seen in Oyo State on 19 February 2024. Geopolitical Variations Economic hardship affects Nigeria differently across its regions. The North East and North West face security challenges like Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram insurgency, and banditry, driving some towards criminal activities. The North Central experiences protests and communal clashes as well as abductions and robberies. In the South-South, historical grievances cause discontent and conflict, fostering oil bunkering and kidnappings. The South East struggles with uneven development, while the South West deals with high living costs pushing some towards theft and kidnappings. These regional issues intersect with broader economic struggles, creating complex challenges. Conclusion The truth of Nigeria’s crisis lies in the undeniable link between economic hardship and the surge in criminality and social upheaval. From the North’s desperate struggle for survival to the South’s societal woes, regional nuances paint a complex picture. While current responses offer temporary relief, lasting peace demands systemic change. Empowering youth, tackling corruption, and building a just society are not just ideals, but essential steps toward a secure and prosperous Nigeria.        

CURATED OSINT, Nigeria, Reports, security analysis, SECURITY THREATS

THE ESCALATING THREAT OF ARMED ROBBERIES IN OGUN STATE’S STUDENT COMMUNITIES

Armed robbery is the most predominant violent crime across the country including the South Western part of Nigeria. Ogun State which houses most of the higher institutions in Nigeria, has recorded a high robbery incident rate, precisely in Remo North and Ijebu-Ode Local Government Areas. At least four attacks have been recorded in these locations, a precedent which has triggered protests by some student populace. Students, who reside in hostels distant from the main school campus, with limited access to equipped security personnel have often been primary targets of these attacks in recent times. Factors such as low-level employment rate, socio-economic disparities, drug abuse, and cultism as well as the proliferation of arms, mostly locally made Small Arms Fire (SAFs), have increased the risk of robbery attacks in student communities. In Remo-North for example, students were victims of attacks at least three times between December 2023 and January 2024. MODUS OPERANDI The assailants attack students’ hostels at midnight, mostly between 2300-0200 hrs, to reduce detection of their movements. By breaking down doors or windows, the attackers gain access to their victims’ rooms, scaring them with guns to command cooperation. Reports on open sources have also revealed that those who refuse to cooperate are assaulted and injured, and in extreme situations, killed, as was recorded on 2nd December 2023, in Sapaade, Remo North LGA. NOTABLE ROBBERY ATTACKS Between December 2022 to January 2024, at least twenty incidents of armed robbery were documented in Ogun State, with a high rate of casualty and loss of valuables worth millions of naira during the attacks. On 24 October 2023, armed individuals attacked the female private hostels of the Tai Solarin University of Education in the Ijagun village in the Ijebu-Ode Local Government Area of the State and sexually assaulted at least four female students, while valuables including cash, laptops, and phones were stolen. Further information shows that an undisclosed number of students were injured during the assault. On 2nd December 2023, incidents were documented in the Ode-Ipara and Isara communities in the Remo-North Local Government Area of the State. A student was killed, while nine others were wounded after the assailants fired gunshots during the attack. It was stated that this attack occurred four days after students protested recurrent attacks in their community. The school was reportedly closed down for two weeks following the incessant armed robbery attacks on the students. IMPACTS ON STUDENTS Robberies have profound and detrimental effects on students.  Beyond the immediate loss of the student’s valuables, the psychological impact can be severe, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and a sense of vulnerability. The emotional toll may affect academic performance, disrupting focus and concentration. Students may also experience a decline in overall well-being, as feelings of insecurity persist. In some cases, financial strain arises from replacing stolen items, adding additional burdens. GOVERNMENT SECURITY RESPONSE The Public Relations Officer, SP Omolola Odutola, in a statement on 28th November 2023, announced the arrest of three suspected robbers involved in the attacks on the students. In another raid, five suspected robbers were arrested at the Oke Itoku area of Abeokuta. Two stolen vehicles were also recovered from the suspects. He further opined that a proactive operation was conducted based on intelligence, following a security meeting organized by the Commissioner of Police, CP Alamutu Abiodun Mustapha, in response to the shooting incidents at the Gateway Polytechnic. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SCHOOL AUTHORITIES Threats in institutions of learning have lingered for years, therefore, it is expedient for schools’ management to collaborate with security operatives to enhance security presence in student residencies. Another recommendation is for schools to establish clear communication channels for students to report any suspicious activities. Addressing the issue involves not only enhancing security measures but also providing adequate support services such as counseling to help students cope with the aftermath of such incidents. SECURITY AWARENESS, CRIME PREVENTION STRATEGIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STUDENTS Ensure proper verification of locations before renting an accommodation. Report suspicious movements around the residence to the appropriate authorities. Remain vigilant. Avoid distractions like texting or wearing headphones that can make you less aware of your surroundings. Students are advised to walk in groups especially at night or in unfamiliar areas whenever possible. Don’t leave valuable items, such as laptops, smartphones, or cash, in plain sight. Avoid late-night movement. Exercise caution, and if caught off guard, stay calm and avoid struggling with assailants.     Featured Image Source: CC. TAUSED Website

CURATED OSINT, Nigeria, Reports, TERRORISM

THE INFIGHTING BETWEEN BOKO HARAM AND ISWAP TERRORIST GROUPS

Boko Haram, founded in 2002, is a Nigerian jihadist group notorious for its insurgency, brutal tactics and attacks on civilians in the Lake Chad Basin. Initially, the group sought to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province), on the other hand, emerged in 2016 as a splinter group from Boko Haram, pledging allegiance to ISIS. ISWAP operates primarily in northeastern Nigeria, focusing on expanding its territory and influence. The historical ties between Boko Haram and ISWAP stem from ideological similarities and shared jihadist objectives. However, a rift occurred when ISWAP criticised Boko Haram’s indiscriminate targeting of Muslims and civilians, opting for a more strategic approach while Boko Haram initially aimed to purify Islam in Nigeria by rejecting Western influence and establishing Sharia law. Conversely, ISWAP emerged as a splinter group within Boko Haram, seeking closer ties with ISIS and a more aggressive approach towards establishing an Islamic state in West Africa. Ideologically, Boko Haram was more focused on local grievances, while ISWAP sought to align itself with the global jihadist movement. Infighting Between Both Groups Infighting within terrorist organizations is a common phenomenon driven by power struggles, ideological differences, and personal ambitions. It often weakens the group’s effectiveness and can lead to splinter factions or alliances with rival organizations. The infighting between Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorist groups has led to great losses-loss of lives, properties, and territories, on both ends over time. On 18th November 2023, around 70 terrorists were reportedly killed in a clash between the Boko haram and ISWAP groups at Tumbum Ali Island in Marte Local Government Area. In a similar occurrence, several Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters died in a clash in the Lake Chad Basin on 15th January 2024. Implications For Borno State And Beyond The recurrent infighting among the terrorist factions within Borno State exacerbates the already dire humanitarian situation, hindering efforts to provide aid and assistance to vulnerable populations. It also undermines governance structures and stability, hampering socio-economic development and further perpetuating cycles of violence. Although there has been a slight shift from direct attacks on civilians to inter-group battles, the violence still disrupts lives and livelihoods. Clashes displace communities, restrict movement, and hinder access to essential services. The fear and uncertainty created by the conflict further traumatizes a population already grappling with years of insurgency. Effects On The Security Landscape In Borno State And Neighbouring Regions The infighting has created a volatile security landscape, with increased uncertainty and instability. Armed clashes between rival factions, including militant groups and state security forces, have become more frequent, leading to heightened tensions and a greater risk of civilian casualties. Furthermore, the state’s porous borders allow for the spillover of violence into neighbouring regions, exacerbating regional insecurity. Regional And International Security Implications The conflict in Borno State has broader regional and international security implications, as it provides fertile ground for extremist groups to thrive and expand their influence. The presence of Boko Haram and other militant factions poses a significant threat not only to Nigeria but also to neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad Basin region. Furthermore, the proliferation of weapons and the displacement of populations may exacerbate existing security challenges and contribute to regional instability. Government Security Response The Nigerian military has launched offensives against both Boko Haram and ISWAP, aiming to weaken and dismantle their operations. International partners have also provided military assistance and intelligence sharing. However, these efforts have yielded mixed results. Conclusion While the infighting has arguably weakened both groups, it hasn’t eradicated the threat they pose. Clashes continue, and the underlying causes of the conflict remain unaddressed.  After years of infighting and power struggles between Boko Haram and ISWAP, the security landscape in Borno State remains highly volatile. While both groups share ideological similarities, their rivalry has led to violent clashes and shifting alliances, further complicating the security situation in the region. Despite occasional ceasefires and peace talks, the underlying tensions persist, posing significant challenges to efforts aimed at restoring stability and peace. Addressing the fractured insurgency requires a multifaceted approach that combines military operations with comprehensive socioeconomic interventions. This includes efforts to address the root causes of extremism, such as poverty, unemployment, and marginalization, while also strengthening governance and the rule of law. It is also worth noting that reconciliation efforts face numerous challenges, including deep-seated grievances, distrust between opposing factions, and the presence of spoilers seeking to derail peace processes. However, successful reconciliation can lead to stability and the reintegration of former insurgents into society. Conversely, failure to reconcile may result in further fragmentation of the conflict, with splinter groups continuing to pursue their goals through violence. Additionally, regional cooperation and intelligence-sharing are essential for effectively combating cross-border threats and preventing the spread of violent extremism. International support, both in terms of resources and capacity-building, is crucial for implementing sustainable solutions and preventing further escalation of the conflict.   Image Banner Source: Zagazola

CURATED OSINT, Nigeria, Reports, security analysis, SECURITY THREATS

THE ETHNO-RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF THE PLATEAU CRISIS

Plateau State, over the years, has been a hotspot for ethnic-religious conflicts due to various religious and cultural identities. These conflicts result from societal imbalances between groups like the Berom farming localities and Fulani herders. Territorial possessions in this fertile zone emerged as conflict grounds driving rivalry among locals. Various ethnic groups, consisting of Berom, Fulani, and Hausa largely fraternised under religious groupings majorly Christianity and Islam. Ethno-religious Dynamics The majority of the violence recorded in the state is mostly attributed to either religious or ethnic dimensions and at times a combination of both This includes recurrent attacks between groups leaving hundreds displaced. Conflicts over resources such as land and water fueled by perceptions of marginalization and the quest for power and control have exacerbated these issues. The turning point was the massive violence in the state capital Jos in September 2001 (commonly referred to as the Jos crisis) which claimed around 1,000 lives.  Challenges Associated with the Violence Identifying the perpetrators of the attacks poses one of the most challenging obstacles in addressing the violence. Currently, there are no established groups or militias with a recognized organizational structure. No individual or entity has come forward to openly claim responsibility for the violence. While various organizations representing diverse political, economic, and social interests exist across the state, they do not publicly endorse or advocate violence. The Christmas Eve massacre of 2023 in Bokkos and Mangu attests to the conflict’s enduring brutality. During the attack, more than 160 Villages (44 in Bokkos, 11 in Barkin Ladi and 109 in Mangu LGA respectively) were overrun by unknown attackers, resulting in over 409 houses burnt down, 335 deaths, 171 injured with an estimated 18,275 people fleeing from their homes to seek refuge in other parts of the state and neighbouring environs. Way Forward To tackle the challenges arising from ethnic and religious differences in Plateau State, it is important to adopt a comprehensive approach. This includes facilitating dialogue among diverse groups, promoting mutual respect for different backgrounds, and effectively resolving conflicts. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure equal opportunities for all citizens, improve governance, and promote inclusive growth. Guidance from religious and community leaders, along with support from advocacy groups committed to the well-being of the community, plays a pivotal role in establishing trust, promoting tolerance, and cultivating a peaceful atmosphere. Joint initiatives that bring together government agencies and civil society organizations are essential for creating a setting conducive to open dialogue, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.

CURATED OSINT, DEFENSE, Nigeria, Reports, TERRORISM

SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES OF AIRSTRIKES IN NIGERIA’S COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY

Introduction Terrorism is one of the most significant threats to peace, security, stability, human rights, and social and economic development. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed the use of airstrikes as a counter-terrorism measure to curb the operations of terrorist groups in Nigeria, which predominantly are Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram terrorists. These airstrikes are primarily carried out in Niger, Yobe, Zamfara, Borno, Nasarawa, Kaduna, and Katsina States. Successful Operations Successful airstrikes which entail disrupting terrorist operations by targeting their bases, supply routes, and commanders have been recorded by the NAF. These operations demand, but are not limited to, precise and timely intelligence, as well as cooperation between armed forces, intelligence agencies, and international allies to ensure precision targeting and minimal collateral damage. These operations may erode the group’s capabilities, reduce its operational area, and damage its ability to plan and carry out missions. On 10 August 2022, the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) launched air strikes, killing 28 bandits, including bandit leader Alhaji Shanono in North Central Kaduna State. On 2 November 2023, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) under Operation Hakin Kai fired airstrikes at terrorist camps and reportedly neutralized 160 terrorists in Geidam and Gwoza Local Government Areas in Yobe and Borno States. On 6 November 2023, the NAF reportedly neutralized an unconfirmed number of terrorists in Asagar village, Mobbar Local Government Area, Borno State. On 11 October 2023, at least 100 bandits were reportedly killed by the airstrikes of the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji (OPHD) in the Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State. Collateral Damage Airstrikes can do significant damage to terrorist groups, but these operations frequently have limitations that inadvertently cause civilian casualties or damage infrastructure, leading to public backlash and negative sentiment towards the government or the forces conducting the strikes. According to reports, between September 2017 and 2023, military accidental bombings killed an estimated 425 people. In Borno State, on 17 January 2017, an accidental airstrike on an Internally Displaced Person’s camp in Rann Town, Kala Balge Local Government Area resulted in 172 casualties including 52 fatalities, and on 13 April 2020, 17 people, including children, were killed after a NAF fighter jet bombed Sakotoku village in Damboa Local Government Area of the State. In Katsina State, a NAF fighter jet struck Kunkuna village in the Safana Local Government Area resulting in 14 casualties including a fatality on 7 July 2022. In Niger State, a NAF fighter jet reportedly fired a bomb targeted at terrorists in Kurebe village in Shiroro Local Government Area which resulted in 6 civilian fatalities, all children in April 2022.  Similarly, in January 2023, an accidental airstrike at the border linking Benue and Nasarawa states at the Doma Local Government Area in Nasarawa State resulted in 37 fatalities. Most recently, an accidental airstrike occurred at Kaduna State during Maulud celebrations in Tudun Biri of the Igabi Local Government Area resulting in 151 casualties, including 66 fatalities on 3 December 2023. Conclusion    Although airstrikes can be part of counter-terrorism efforts, their success depends on a larger strategy that includes intelligence gathering, socioeconomic development, governance improvements, community engagement, and diplomatic measures to address the root causes of terrorism and prevent its resurgence. Image Source: Daily Post/Humangle

INTELLIGENCE, Maritime Security, Nigeria, Reports

EVALUATING SAFETY STANDARDS AMIDST RISING BOAT CAPSIZING INCIDENTS ACROSS NIGERIA’S WATERWAYS

Introduction In the expansive tapestry of Nigeria’s geographical landscape, the intricate network of waterways, meandering over 8,000 kilometres (about 4970.97 mi) of rivers and coastlines, stands as a crucial conduit for the nation’s vibrant economy and diverse population. This, however, has metamorphosed into a wellspring of deep concern due to the surge in boat capsizing incidents. Examining this problem requires peeling back the layers to reveal the multifaceted factors contributing to this alarming rise. The uptick speaks not only to the inherent dangers faced by those navigating Nigeria’s waterways but also to systemic inadequacies in the safeguards meant to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. States like Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Adamawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Kano have witnessed a high rate of boat mishaps in recent times. Niger State has recorded over 10 boat incidents this year alone. The recent heart-wrenching tragedy in Niger State, where a boat, burdened with over 100 passengers, succumbed to the unforgiving waters, leaving dozens dead, once again thrust the matter of safety standards in Nigerian waters into the limelight. The incident, amongst others, necessitates a comprehensive exploration of the systemic issues contributing to this worrisome trend. It prompts questions about the efficacy of existing safety regulations, the enforcement mechanisms, and the resilience of the vessels navigating the nation’s waterways. Likely Causes An analysis of data furnished by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) reveals that since the start of 2023, over 260 Nigerians have died in various boat mishaps across the nation’s inland waterways. These troubling incidents, as elucidated by experts, could be linked to an array of factors including overloading, overspeeding, and pervasive non-compliance with established safety regulations. Overloading One of the most common causes of boat capsizing incidents is overloading. Boat operators, driven by the pressure to maximise profits, often cram more passengers and cargo onto their vessels than they are safely designed to carry. This destabilizes the boats, making them more susceptible to capsizing, especially in rough waters. Overspeeding Another major contributing factor is overspeeding. Boat operators, eager to meet tight schedules or simply seeking a thrill, often disregard speed limits, particularly in calmer waters. This reckless behaviour increases the risk of collisions with other boats or submerged objects, which can easily lead to capsizing. Lax Enforcement and Inadequate Safety Regulations The lack of strict enforcement of safety regulations further exacerbates the problem. NIWA, the agency responsible for regulating inland waterway transportation, faces challenges in effectively monitoring and enforcing safety standards across the vast network of waterways. Additionally, the existing safety regulations are often outdated and inadequate, failing to address the evolving nature of boat operations and the increasing complexity of waterways. Notable cases of boat capsize incidents in Nigeria A few of the incidents reported this year include; 14 June 2023- A boat capsized between Ebu and Dzakan village in Patigi local government area of Kwara state loaded with about 250 passengers out of which 106 people died. 9 September 2023- 10 persons died after a boat capsized on the Njuwa Lake, Rugange village, in the Yola South Local Government Area of Adamawa State. On 11 September, another boat accident claimed 11 lives in Gurin village in Fufore Local Government Area of the State. 2 October 2023- A boat carrying 50 people capsized in Yauri Local Government, Kebbi State with 40 passengers unaccounted for. 28 October 2023- A boat conveying 80 passengers capsized in Karim Lamido Local Government Area of Taraba, resulting in the death of 15 passengers. Addressing the Safety Imperative To combat the rising tide of boat capsizing incidents, a comprehensive approach is needed. These include Strict Enforcement of Safety Regulations: NIWA must be empowered with the resources and authority to effectively enforce safety regulations, including regular inspections, penalties for non-compliance, and the impounding of unsafe vessels. Existing safety regulations should be reviewed and updated to reflect the latest safety standards and address emerging challenges in boat operations. Enhanced Safety Awareness: Public awareness campaigns should be conducted to educate boat operators and passengers about safety precautions, such as proper loading practices, safe operating speeds, and the importance of using life jackets. Efforts should be made to promote the use of safer boat designs and construction materials, particularly for vessels operating in challenging waterways. Investing in Rescue Infrastructure: Adequate rescue infrastructure, including well-equipped rescue boats and trained personnel, should be readily available in strategic locations along waterways to swiftly respond to emergencies. The growing pattern of boat tragedies serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address safety concerns on Nigeria’s waterways. By implementing a holistic approach that addresses overloading, overspeeding, lax enforcement, and inadequate safety regulations, we can work towards a future where the waterways that sustain Nigeria’s economy and connect its communities are also safe and reliable.  

CURATED OSINT, Maritime Security, Nigeria, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

NAVIGATING TROUBLED WATERS: MARITIME SMUGGLING AND ILLICIT ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA

Introduction There has been a significant shift in criminal activities along the Nigerian maritime landscape in recent years, with smugglers adapting to the evolving enforcement strategies of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other maritime security agencies. Criminals have built syndicates that have dominated the waterways and open sea highlighting the impact of piracy and smuggling. Due to this, illegal activities have increased along waterways, posing a serious threat to maritime security and necessitating reevaluation of enforcement measures. Smugglers’ Tactics Smugglers have relocated their operations to the waterways because of intensified customs operations on land, according to investigations. Contraband goods en route to Nigeria now often follow a circuitous route, being shipped to neighbouring countries within the sub-region. These illicit cargoes are then transported at night or during the day on clandestine jetties scattered throughout Lagos waterways and other Niger Delta states. Criminal Backing Particularly worrying about these activities is the allegations of these smugglers being overlooked by corrupt influential figures in the military, government and diplomatic circles. These criminal syndicates, pirates etc are not only well organised but also heavily armed. The alleged corrupt alliance presents a serious challenge to the efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat these illegal acts. Customs’ Battle on the High Seas The Customs Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, highlighted the gravity of the situation when, in June this year, a truckload of Indian Hemp was intercepted in the Lekki area of Lagos state. The contraband was offloaded from a boat originating from Ghana. However, in a brazen display of criminal sophistication, five out of the six trucks loaded with the smuggled goods managed to evade customs operatives in the darkened Lekki expanse. This highlights the continued efforts displayed by security operatives, however, there are loopholes in the execution of these operations. Kidnappings and Localized Threats The maritime challenges extend to local waters, with criminals often referred to as ‘pirates’ and operating within the Niger Delta and Lagos waterways. Kidnapping for ransom and attacks on local cruise ships are common, directly threatening the security of local communities in the region. Although there was a notable drop in maritime kidnapping activities as of October 2023 due to the rebound of oil prices amidst the Ukraine and Russia war, the threats persist. Diverse Criminal Activities and Rising Threats Recently, reports have shed light on the intricate web of smuggling routes, revealing that approximately 90% of Indian hemp in the country enters through the West African sub-region. This is facilitated by the substance’s legal status in many French-speaking countries within the region, providing smugglers with a seemingly seamless passage into Nigeria. The rise of smuggling is not limited to contraband. Criminal organizations use various methods to smuggle Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as gasoline, into neighbouring countries. The porous nature of the nearly 800 km-long border has made it difficult to deal with the illegal movement of fuel, drugs, people and foreign goods. OPERATION WATER GUARD: A Strategic Initiative In response to the increasing maritime threats, OPERATION WATER GUARD by the Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy was initiated in the border areas of Benin Republic focusing on the waters of Badagry in Lagos and parts of Ogun state. The objective of the operation launched on 9 November 2023 is to make Nigerian waters and borders inaccessible to maritime pirates and smugglers. The operation uses intelligence-led research to supplement existing checkpoints and improve their oversight. The current increase in crime on maritime routes demands immediate and strategic response. Strengthening maritime security requires cooperation between different agencies. from Customs and the Navy to intelligence agencies. Shared intelligence and enhanced surveillance capabilities can help break the networks that facilitate these illegal activities. Navigating Troubled Waters Amidst End of the Year Festivities As Nigeria faces multifaceted maritime security challenges, there is a need for concerted and determined efforts to protect its waters. Ongoing security operations which are commendable initiatives, highlights the need for continued flexibility and cooperation between all security agencies. The approaching holiday season brings concerns about the possibility of a decline in security activities along waterways. According to trend analysis, concentrated efforts and deployment of security forces across different states are anticipated during festive periods on land, which could exacerbate the threat posed by criminal groups on the sea. As the country faces this critical alert, addressing the root causes and strengthening safety measures are essential for a safer maritime environment.

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.

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