Ethnic Militancy And Terrorism In Nigeria: A Case Study Of 1999-2012

Project and Seminar Material Under International Law and Diplomacy

Ethnic Militancy And Terrorism In Nigeria: A Case Study Of 1999-2012


The study examines ethnic militancy and terrorism in Nigeria. A case study of 1999-2012.

The study adopted qualitative method and historical/analytical design was used in analyzing its data. Data were collected through secondary sources which include newspapers, archives, books, conference proceedings, etc.

The study revealed that; The differences in interests among the actors in relation to the issue of oil production and its impact on the local people laid the basis for the president struggle between the social movement/militant youths on one side and the state oil multinationals operating in the region on the other;. The age-long crisis in the region became an agenda for the international community in the 1990s because of the trend and impact of globalization;. The recent internationalization of the crisis has not impacted enough to significantly address the demands of the people with the locally based pressure and, later, INGOs.

The study concluded that, both the state and the oil multinationals have continued, overtly and covertly, their militarization of the region under the guise of security, thus inflicting more violence on the Niger Delta people. It is as though further militarization will resolve the causal factors that triggered and fed the conflict. The study further recommends that; Development will only occur in the Niger Delta when there is true federalism, when the communities exercise control over their resources or when the Niger Delta becomes an independent political entity;. National summit on the Niger Delta should involves the genuine leaders and representatives of the people in the Niger Delta;. The representatives should include the leaders of the various nationality movements in the Niger Delta as well as individual leaders of the clans within the nationalities;. F initiative will need to be excercised by third parties such as reputable Nigerian, rather than foreign NGOs and civil society organizations;. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NIC) and NOOs like Action Aid (Nigeria), CDD, ERA and others should be well positioned to play this role;. Relevant MDG goals in the areas of material and child health, HIV/AIDS and malaria, and gender equity and empowerment should be achieved;. The setting up of an Ecological Restoration Fund (ERF) that will be responsible for correcting the history of environmental abuse in the Niger Delta;. Major measures need to be developed and deployed to address the fractured social life of the people.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In a time of terror, in the face of terrorism, the Nigerian state articulates itself as a domain of security for the populace. The presidency, lawmakers and security agencies openly condemn terrorist attacks as illegitimate action used by non-state actors. According to Nigerian government, through the National Assembly embark on a legislative to criminalise terrorism via the Economy and financial crises commission. However, the inchoate nature of counterterrorism provisions in the act lead to the exploration of a more comprehensive legal framework, and in turn to presentation of the prevention of terrorism in the senate in 2006, five years later, the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011. It was forwarded by the click of National Assembly to President Goodluck Jonathan who assented the hill on June 3 in the year 2011.

Since 2009 internal terrorism in Nigeria move from the ethnic militancy to suicide bombing, a situation that has claimed over 4000 lives which led to the declaration of state of emergency in five Northern states and the sacking of the Defence Minister, Inspector General of police and The National Security Adviser. The unpopular national phenomenon of suicide bombing have suddenly become dominant in the country. There several attack on the political leaders and traditional rulers in the Northern –Eastern region of the country, the nation’s capital Abuja, the commercial city of kano and Kaduna in Northern-Western axis and formerly serene plateau state in Northern-Central region.

The nature of internal terrorism in Nigeria assumed international outlook, with the bombing of the United Nations building at Abuja on 26 of August 2011 which killed at least 21 and wounded 60 people. The international community grieved at suicide bombing rocked at St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Niger State on Christmas Day and killing innocent worshippers. These are side from the spate of bombings of several other churches, political infrastructures and civilian gatherings in Kano, Kaduna, Okene and the Local government councils in the Northern part of the country.

According to the United States Department’s Global Report on Terrorism, Nigeria ranked 2nd with 593 deaths in 2011 from terrorist killings on African continents, second to only the failed states of Somalia. On global level, Nigeria was placed 5th in the ranking of casualties.

Nigeria is not a stranger to terrorism, having experienced the activities of the extremist Maitatsine sect movement that became violent in the early 1980s during the regime of 6he first democratically elected civil government of AlhajiShehuShagari. The yanTatsine (followers of Maitatsine) was actually a quasi-Muslim fringe group that preached Islamic doctrines that were contrary to the teaching of the orthodox Islamic and societal leadership of Muhammed the prophet. Muhammadu Merwa Maitatsine, the leader of the sect was a Muslim scholar from Marwa in Northern Cameroun who migrated to Kano in Nigeria.

The ideology of the Maitatsine sect was appealing to the poverty stricken youths who sought an opportunity to confront the conservative traditional Islamic rulership and state Governments. The directive by the Federal Government to Police Force to crush the movement, which had large followership of unemployed youths, led to clashes with the Police in Kano. Encouraged by the ‘defeat‘of the Police, the sect marched throughout the Kano city chanting “yanzamusha jinni”, meaning “today we shall drink blood” in Hausa. By December 19, 1980 the sect took over strategic places in Kano city including the faggemosque,some schools, a cinema house and SabonGari market. For elevendays, Police was unable to bring the sectarian riots under control. When the situation was getting out of hand, ex-President ShehuShagari had to invite the Nigerian Army to intervene. It took the army two days to dislodge the sect while their leaders was killed in the operation. More than 1000 members of the sect were arrested and detained in prison where they received agonizing treatment from the Police. The crisis lasted 11 days claimed the lives of more than 4,179 people and hundreds of houses and shops were either torched or destroyed. This religious crisis, which later took a denominational dimension of Zaria with the Muslims directing their attacks on Christians and their property, later spread to Maiduguri, Yola, Bauchi and Gombe, in the north-eastern parts of Nigeria. (Akinsola E,1980:5)

Thus, national security becomes the language in and through which terrorism is medicatedbas a threat which invariably make the state create and implement national security policies. It is not only international or global terrorism that threatens Nigeria’s security. Internal terrorism is equally perceived to threaten directly the national security of Nigeria. In other words, the threats requires Nigerian Governments to protect the citizens but also to defend the constitution and its national interests, including the interest of allies abroad. Seen as the systematic use of violence, or the threat of violence, against governments or individuals to attain a socio-political objective, terrorism remain the instrument of violence for political ends. Terrorism is a longstanding political and religious strategy that has gained renewed international awareness following the devastating and unprecedented attacks of the United States (US) on the 11th September 2001called (9/11).. (Nnoji.O.,2001). New pack although the events of that day have come to represent a turning point of international concern with the issues, the 9/11 attacks were not isolated events, nor did these events reflect an unexpected new threat. They were the representative reaffirmation of a tendency that had been apparent foe several years. When terror had previously been a painful anarchism, liberation wars, counter-insurgency campaigns on the battle field of Cold War.

Historically, no terrorism group has ever emerged in a vacuum there dynamic contexts: social, political, economic, temporal, spatial, even religious that must be taken into consideration. The considerable amount of emphasis is placed on identifying the array of environmental conditions and grievances among members, populations that facilitated opportunities for internal terrorism in Nigeria which muster support and orchestrate acts of political violence. The government of Nigeria has struggled to deal effectively with these grievances and sources of tension throughout the county. There is a pervasive belief particularly among northern Nigerian that the government continually fails to address critical needs of those who aspire for a better future, while resources are surely constrained, it is the inequitable distribution of those resources, and the widely acknowledged levels of corruption among elites, that detract the Government’s from effective counter terrorism. In turn, patronage and corruption fuels a general perception that government officials including the law enforcement agencies were no longer trusted. This further undermines the government’s ability to influence the behaviour of local community members.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Internal or Domestic terrorism has a long history in Nigeria. Both the southern and Northern part of country have experienced acts of terrorism. Some of the groups that posed the greatest challenge to Nigeria’s security between 1999 and 2012 include Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Oodua people’s Congress (OPC), Bskasi Boys, Boko Haram, among others. These groups adopted various strategies which included kidnapping, arson, looting, extrajudicial killings, unlawful detention, disappearance and at worst suicide bombings. While some of these groups receive considerable support from local people, the fact is that their tactics sometimes constitute terrorism and pose a special challenge to Nigerian military. Since the return to civil rule in 1999 Nigeria has been battling with series of violent agitations from various geo-political zones in the country. These violent agitation which have taken terrible dimensions have contributed to national security threat, capable of disintegrating the county. Terrorists’ attacks have resulted in the killings of hundreds of people and wanton destruction of property worth billions of naira.

The strategic implication of these terrorist act on Nigeria’s national security is the major threat of this thesis. While literature abounds on the term “terrorism”, ‘national security’, more research is needed to unravel the connection between terrorism and national security in Nigeria. Outright confrontation with the police and military officers, violent attacks on the populace, pipelines vandalisation, bombing of oil installation, armed resistance against the agent of the Nigerian state and the transitional companies operating in the region, kidnapping and hostage taking have serious strategic implication for Nigeria in the international community. Since the activities of this terrorist group since 1999 have not only constituted a major security threat to the nation, but has also made the country one of the most dangerous place to live in the world. The activities of this sects are capable of disintegrating the country. Thus the need to find lasting solutions to the grievance of this groups is very paramount.

This project hope to shed lights on why internal terrorism arose as well as its implications for Nigeria in the 21st century. This project will look at the effects of terrorism into on democratic dispersion. It is hoped that this projects will contribute to future work on Nigerian conflicts by recommending holistic recommendations.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The Objectives of the study are:-

  1. To examine the concept of internal terrorism and evaluate the physical manifestation of terrorist act of 1992 to 2012.
  2. To examine the political, economic, social and environmental causes of internal security and it’s implication for national security in Nigeria.
  3. To identify and assess the problem revolving ethnic militancy and terrorism in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the concept of internal terrorism on the physical manifestation of terrorist act of 1992 to 2012.
  2. What is the political, economic, social and environmental causes of internal security and it’s implication for national security in Nigeria.
  3. What is the problem revolving ethnic militancy and terrorism in Nigeria.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The problem of internal terrorism and it’s implications for national security in Nigeria is central to this analyses the implication of internal terrorism for Nigeria in the international community. It is on this basis that this study is important for certain reasons. Firstly, the study is of paramount importance to decision makers and the citizens for it traces, the historical development of internal terrorism in Nigeria, emphasizing how corruption, ethno-politics, resource control, bad government, poverty, coups and counter coups etc have all added to the rise of internal terrorism in Nigeria.

Secondly, the importance of Nigeria as a global source of energy inevitably has resulted in a significant international presence in the country; in particular the USA China and Britain who depend on Nigeria for a large part of their oil import have a significant political and economic presence. It is no coincidence that these countries in particular have been pivotal to the counter terrorism polices of Nigeria and in training their military for specific counter terrorism functions. Thus the international involvement of stakeholders in internal terrorism in Nigeria becomes critical to this study as it raised more questions about who counterterrorism policies enacted for, for what purpose. In existence, the research will provoke further questions on internal terrorism in Nigeria.

Thirdly, this research work will help to provide information on internal factors that affect counter-terrorism in Nigeria, and what it holds for other countries undergoing the challenges of internal terrorism. With successful amenities and dialogue having taken place in Niger Delta with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta(MEND) and the recent ceasefire announcement of the Boko Haram terrorist group, it means that internal terrorism could be won by the government through peaceful dialogue.

Fourthly, it is useful to scholars especially diplomatic historians, political scientists, economist and international relations experts who are conducting research in related fields. Finally the political and military class will learn through this study, the need for them to be patriotic.

1.5 Scope and Limitations to the Study

The study examine internal security and it’s strategic implication for national security in Nigeria. The research begins from 1999, a year which is significant in Nigeria history as it ushered in the Fourth Republic under democratically elected government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The research terminates in 2012 as much of the terrorist activities up to date featured between 2009 and 2012.

The research will analyse the concept of internal terrorism and national security. The analysis will explore the reasons for internal terrorism in Nigeria. Hence, the study will focus on the historical background of internal terrorism in Nigeria, the Nigeria security environment and the counter-terrorist policies which the Nigerian government pursued to maintain national security from 1999 to 2012.

In producing this study, the problem confronting the researcher is not the scarcity of materials but its availability some of which were biased in their presentation. this research work will be contemporary and politically sensitive. The researcher therefore is confronted with the problem of interpretation of the actssions of terrorist groups as well as counter-terrorist approach of the Nigerian government as some of the policies initiated are still an ongoing process. Finally there is the question of time and fund which may serve as impediments to this research. Nevertheless this limitation factors will greatly be managed to make the research work more objective in its presentation.

1.6 Definition of Terms


It is the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create fear or terror to achieve a financial, religious, ethnics, political or ideological aim.


It is the use of confrontational or violent method in support of political or social to achieve political or ideological aims.

Ethnic Group:

It is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, society, culture or nation.

Modus Operandi:

The way in which something operates or work.


An active revolt or uprising.

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