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

ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

FUEL SHORTAGES AND ELECTRICITY TARIFF HIKES IN NIGERIA

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is riddled with an array of economic challenges ranging from fuel scarcity to rising electricity tariffs. These issues not only affect the daily lives of citizens but also have broader implications for social stability and security, particularly regarding criminal activities. Fuel Scarcity One of the most pressing challenges Nigerians are facing is fuel scarcity, which has been recurrent in the country. The shortage of fuel is linked to various factors such as inadequate refining capacity, pipeline vandalism, and inefficiencies in the distribution system. As a result, transportation, businesses, and essential services have been disrupted, leading to frustration and economic losses for both individuals and enterprises. In late April 2024, Nigeria faced fuel scarcity that caused long queues in major cities such as Lagos, Abuja, and Kano. The Nigeria National Petroleum Company urged citizens to avoid panic buying as the scarcity resulted from logistical issues. Despite their claims, fuel prices have significantly increased, with some areas reportedly selling as high as ₦1000/litre. This has caused concern among Nigerians, who are already facing economic challenges. Regarding logistical issues that have further aggravated fuel scarcity, criminal syndicates have been known to vandalize pipelines and steal petroleum products. These activities not only deprive the government of revenue but also contribute to environmental degradation and pose significant safety risks. Electricity Tariff Hikes Another challenge Nigeria is facing is the recent increase in electricity tariffs. On 3rd April 2024, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an increase in electricity tariffs for customers under the Band A category to N225 per kWh, up from N66. The commission stated that customers under the classification are those who receive 20 hours of electricity supply daily. The government implemented this increase to address the long-standing challenges in the power sector, including inadequate infrastructure, low investment, and revenue shortfalls. The move is intended to improve service delivery, encourage investment in the sector and also eliminate the annual electricity subsidies of 1.14 Trillion Naira. This has sparked widespread discontent among consumers, particularly amidst the backdrop of economic hardships. The tariff hike places an additional burden on already struggling households and businesses, further exacerbating poverty and inequality. For many Nigerians, reliable access to electricity remains a distant reality, with power outages being a common occurrence in both urban and rural areas. Public Discontent The frustration and disillusionment stemming from these socio-economic hardships can fuel social unrest and exacerbate existing tensions within communities. On 27th February 2024, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held protests in Rivers, Bayelsa, Abuja, Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Ondo and several other states over the high cost of living in the country. In March, residents from Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area protested at the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State over consistent power outages. The protesters also blocked the route leading to the airport. Precursor for criminal activities The ramifications brought about by fuel scarcity and higher electricity tariffs create a fertile ground for criminal activities to thrive. In such an environment, criminal elements may exploit the vulnerabilities of disenfranchised populations, further destabilizing the social fabric. Unemployed youths may turn to illicit means to sustain themselves, including theft, robbery, and vandalism. Moreover, the lack of affordable and reliable electricity further compounds the challenges businesses face, leading to closures and job losses. This economic downturn can push more individuals towards criminality as they seek alternative sources of income to survive. Conclusion The recent hike in fuel prices and other economic challenges have recently been a major driver of calls for protests and shutdowns by various civil society, workers’ unions, and pressure groups. Unions such as the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) until 12th May 2024 to reverse the electricity tariff or face unprecedented industrial action. Protests would incur the deployment of security forces to locations which may likely lead to clashes between security forces and protesters. Also, criminal gangs may likely use the chaos to carry out crimes without disruptions. To address these issues, approaches including infrastructure investment, policy reforms, and effective law enforcement strategies to combat criminal activities are required. As Nigeria strives towards economic growth and social development, ensuring access to affordable energy and mitigating the impact of fuel scarcity are imperative steps towards fostering stability and security within the nation.

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, HEALTH SECURITY, Reports

FIRE OUTBREAKS IN NIGERIA: CAUSES AND REMEDIAL MEASURES

In 2024 so far, Nigeria has experienced a series of severe fire breakouts throughout all regions, causing substantial damage to property, loss of lives, displacement, disruption of businesses, and economic setbacks. These incidents have emphasized the critical need for more effective fire prevention techniques, emergency response mechanisms, and public awareness campaigns. URBANIZATION AND UNREGULATED INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY Rapid urbanization has resulted in overcrowded residential neighbourhoods and markets, increasing the risk of fire outbreaks due to the proximity of flammable materials and limited access to firefighting equipment. An incident highlighting this cause occurred in Kano State at Yan Katako Market in Fagge Local Government Area on February 26, 2024. At least 50 stores were destroyed, and investigations revealed that foam, plywood, and other carpentry tools may have fueled the fire. Additionally, unregulated industrial activities as a result of poor enforcement of safety laws in industries also lead to hazardous activities that can cause chemical fires and explosions. These incidents mostly occur at illegal oil exploration sites. ELECTRICAL FAULTS Electrical faults resulting from outdated electrical wiring, circuit overload, and inadequate maintenance of electrical appliances also contribute significantly to fire outbreaks in both residential and commercial structures. A fire incident suspected to have been caused by an electrical fault occurred on January 15, 2024, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area, Kano State, resulting in 7 fatalities. It is critical to emphasize the importance of regular maintenance and safety checks on building electrical systems. POOR FIRE SAFETY MEASURES Poor fire safety measures have also been a cause, as many structures lack basic fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and emergency exits, thereby worsening the severity of fires. In Lagos State, a fire outbreak at a popular 10-storey Mandilas building on Broad Street, Lagos Island Local Government Area, occurred on January 21, 2024. Due to the absence of basic firefighting equipment, the fire that began on the first floor escalated to the fourth before the arrival of the fire service. The incident displaced 6,700 traders and razed 450 shops, 30 offices, 2 hotels, and 5 restaurants. HIGH TEMPERATURES Nigeria’s current hot weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires, which can spread swiftly and cause significant damage. On January 26 and 27, in the Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, wildfires erupted at secondary schools due to their proximity to bushes. MITIGATION STRATEGIES These incidents underscore the urgent need for comprehensive fire prevention strategies and improved emergency response mechanisms across the country. While efforts are underway to address some of the underlying issues, such as updating building codes and investing in firefighting infrastructure, more concerted action is required to tackle this growing crisis effectively. Addressing the underlying causes of fire outbreaks in Nigeria requires a multifaceted approach involving government agencies, corporate sector entities, and civil society organizations. Key interventions include the investment in Infrastructure by prioritizing the upgrade of electricity grids, firefighting equipment, and emergency response systems to increase preparation and resilience, public awareness campaigns to inform individuals about fire safety measures, such as correct use of electrical equipment, safe cooking methods, and evacuation protocols, empowering local communities to prevent fires and respond efficiently in emergencies through training programs and community-based initiatives, regulatory enforcement measures to ensure compliance with building codes, fire safety standards, and industrial rules and encouraging research and development activities to explore innovative technologies and tactics for fire detection, prevention, and suppression.   Image Source: Premium Times

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, 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, 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.

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

Scroll to Top