Examining Violent Extremism in Nigeria

Published By with Comments

Categorized as Uncategorized Tagged , , , ,

As the world celebrates the first annual International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism,  Ugo Aliogo examines the efforts of the federal government in the fight against violent extremist groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP who have wreak havoc on the Nigerian state for more than a decade

Violent extremism is a diverse phenomenon, without clear definition. It is neither new nor exclusive to any region, nationality or system of belief. Nevertheless, in recent years, terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Qaida and Boko Haram have shaped our image of violent extremism and the debate on how to address this threat. These groups’ belief in religion, culture and social life has had severe consequences for many regions of the world. Holding territory and using social media for real-time communication of their atrocious crimes, they seek to challenge our shared values of peace, justice and human dignity.

Policy makers, development experts and security personnel view this phenomenon as an affront to economic development, and a force to undermine peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. On a global scale, the sad reality is that no country is immune from the impacts of the menace.

In Nigeria, the terrorist sect, Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) have shaped the image of violent extremism, despite federal government’s effort to eradicate these sects and their activities. The efforts have been viewed by some as an exercise in futility. Over the years, the sects have grown stronger and wreaked havoc on government establishments, places of worship, market, security and educational institutions, and private buildings. Since May 2022 Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) has conducted a number of attacks in Kogi, Niger, and in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Abuja.

The resultant impacts of their activities have led to great humanitarian crisis in the north-east causing huge displacement of people, a crisis that the government is struggling to grapple with. Millions of people have fled the territory controlled by violent extremist groups. Migratory flows have increased both away, from, and towards the conflict zones – involving those seeking safety and those lured into the conflict as foreign terrorist fighters, further destabilizing the regions concerned.

Most attacks are conducted by Boko Haram or ISWA and occur in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in the North-east. There have also been significant attacks in other states, including Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Bauchi and Taraba.

Recent Attacks

Some of the attacks by this group are as follows: On July 5, 2022 the Kuje Prison in The Federal Capital Territory was bombed and attacked by gunmen and an unknown number of prisoners escaped. Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

On September 22, 2022, a police patrol was attacked by gunmen in Ondo State, and on September 23, 2022, security personnel were attacked by gunmen in Edo state. Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) has claimed responsibility.

Also, on July 28, 2022, a Nigerian military checkpoint in Niger State, 30km from Abuja, was attacked.

Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) claimed responsibility for killings of policemen in Suleja, Niger State, on May 12 and  July 4, 2022. Suleja is less than 20 kilometres away from the Federal Capital Territory.

ISWA also claimed responsibility for an IED attack on a bar in Kabba, Kogi State, on 29 May 2022.

In April 2022, ISWA claimed responsibility for two improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Iware and Jalingo, Taraba State, and in May 2022 claimed responsibility of an attack against a military facility in Jalingo.

Experts’ Viewpoint

In its resolution 77/243, the UN General Assembly decided to declare 12 February, 2023, the first annual International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism, to raise awareness of the threats linked to violent extremism and terrorism, and to enhance international cooperation in this regard. With few months left in office for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, THISDAY conducted a poll on the performance of the administration in tackling violent extremism.

The Project Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Programming, Nigeria Country Office, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Tom Parker, said terrorism had always posed a demanding and multi-faceted challenge for any country unlucky enough to be faced with such a threat, and the Nigerian experience has been no exception to this rule.

He also stated that past Nigerian governments have devoted substantial resources to countering terrorism and they have achieved some significant successes.

He also noted that Nigeria has also developed with international support, adding that some very innovative approaches to countering the terrorist threat, have been developed.

Senior Research Fellow Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, Thompson Ayodele, takes a different stance to the discourse, when he remarked that though President Buhari has given himself grade ‘A’ in the tackling Boko Haram and banditry, which he said was far from reality, but argued that there were reports on daily basis that a certain amount of people have been killed or kidnapped, and the killings were more noticeable in one part of Nigeria than the other.

Ayodele further argued that the killings and kidnapping have remained in the southwest of the country, noting that what is responsible for this could be linked to people taking precautions and avoiding hotspots, and the efforts of Amotekun too seem to be paying off, while in the Northwest and Northeast, Boko Haram activities have continued to soar, and this is coupled with banditry and kidnapping which have continued unabated.

“With these happenings, I will say the government is just overwhelmed. A lot of factors are attributable to these. The first is the lack of morale in the military, where salaries and bonuses are not paid on time. The second is, although government has not said this, but the shortage of manpower within the military and the police. There is no commensurable number of people that replaced those who lost their lives during combat missions, dismissed, or retired. When you summarize these indications, it is easy to conclude that government has not measured up in tackling either Boko Haram, or insurgency,” Ayodele noted.

Terrorism Financing

The Central Bank of Nigeria (Anti-Money laundering and Combating the financing of terrorism in Banks and Other financial Institutions in Nigeria) Regulations, 2013 stated that one of the objectives of the AML/CFT is to provide anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism compliance guidelines for financial institutions under the regulatory purview of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as required by relevant provisions of the money laundering prohibition Act 2011, (as amended), the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 (as amended) and other relevant laws and regulations.

The CBN also stated that these regulations cover the relevant provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended), the Terrorism Prevention Acts, 2011 (as amended) and any other relevant laws or regulations.

The policy framework further noted thus: “A financial institution shall adopt policies stating its commitments to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) obligations under subsisting laws, regulations and regulatory directives and to actively prevent any transactions that otherwise facilitates criminal activities, money laundering or terrorism.”

Terrorists Strategy and FG’s Response

The methods of attack used by these terrorists have included coordinated armed assaults, rocket attacks, assassinations, kidnapping, use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bombings (including by child and female bombers), car bombings and arson. Military uniforms and vehicles have been used as a tactic to get close to the intended target.

Reacting to federal government response to tackling insurgency, Parker espoused that terrorists organisations tend to be extremely agile and often evolve quickly to adapt to new tactics, realities and even setbacks on the ground, which makes them extremely difficult to defeat.

He argued that the goal for most governments is to contain their activities and consistently reduce and degrade the reach and effectiveness of their operations over time, and that does seem to be happening incrementally in the Northeast.

He further explained that it is also almost impossible to defeat an armed group if the underlying grievances driving the conflict are left unaddressed, which is one reason why it is so heartening to see the emphasis being placed by the federal and Borno state governments on improving the quality of life for the people in the Northeast, “trying to kill one’s way to victory rarely works against an entrenched organisation with a measure of local support.”

Ayodele is not convinced that federal government is winning the war against insurgency. His viewpoint is that the war against violent extremism is far from being won, stating that in Northwest, which is the hot bed of violent extremism, there are constant military confrontation between the military and various groups.


Parker hinted that violent extremism is a complex phenomenon and each individual has a range of reasons and influences that bear upon his or her decision to join an extremist group.

The submission of Parker is that some of these drivers are personal in nature and are rooted in individual growth and experience, which includes the quest for significance or status, but also negative experiences at the hands of the state, such as human rights abuses, security force violence, or corrupt practices.

According to him, “Other drivers can be situational such as the social networks an individual is part of, both in the community or online, or perhaps a day-to-day reality of systemic social exclusion driven by structural barriers like institutional racism, poverty, or religious or class-based prejudice, which deprives the individual of the opportunity to build a better life. A sense of justified grievance is a universal theme with terrorist groups. Often these grievances can be misplaced, but sometimes they may have a kernel of truth. The wisest approach is to try understand the grievances presented and, if there is some legitimacy to them, seek to find ways to try to acknowledge and address them. This does not mean giving in to terrorism, it means understanding why people are being attracted to terrorist groups and finding ways to reduce their appeal, and that is what preventing violent extremism is all about.”

Ayodele said the motivation for violent extremism attacks is to cause panic and create a situation whereby government is overwhelmed, and extremists take over control.

According to him, “Another motivation is to drive their ideas, and force everyone to adhere to their ideas or worldviews. It is easy to brainwash those without education to carry arms or fight for ideas which are not properly defined. Another motivation is to assert authority over a certain geographical area, and defy legitimate government laws, and make the area ungovernable for government.”


Parker said the issue of granting amnesty to repentant extremists or killing them by death sentence are challenging.

He added that on the one hand it is important to offer an exit ramp for violent extremists so that they have an incentive to leave the group in question, but on the other hand the victims of these extremists have a right to expect justice and redress for the wrongs done to them, he said.

Continuing, he added: “Nigeria also has an international legal obligation both to prosecute terrorism and to prosecute atrocity crimes. Victim populations will likely demand it. What most states seek to do is to strike a balance to make sure that a small, representative, number of those most responsible for the violence are held to account in a court of law, while offering a mechanism for lower-level offenders to pass through a demobilization, deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration programme, and ultimately be accepted back into society. The latter is not an easy process for anyone, and it is vital that all the key stakeholders, especially the communities most affected, are consulted and listened to throughout this journey.”

Content retrieved from: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2023/02/16/examining-violent-extremism-in-nigeria/.

1 comment

  1. Cult like factions of extremists continue to wreak havoc on families in Nigeria. They often use the same coercive persuasion techniques as destructive cults such as social isolation, encouraging unreasonable fears and revering their charismatic leaders as an object of worship.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trenton, New Jersey 08618
609.396.6684 | Feedback

Copyright © 2022 The Cult News Network - All Rights Reserved