23 October 2016, Lagos — A total of 18 new armed groups have sprung up in Nigeria in the last 17 months, according to a report by a crisis-monitoring group.
The report puts Nigeria well-ahead of any other African nation, as the country with the fastest-growing number of new armed dissident groups.
In an apparent reflection of a poor crisis-management mechanism, the report by the Public Security & Safety Advocacy department of Intersociety shows that in the first 15 months of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, as many as 18 disaffected groups took up arms across the country.
Painting a gloomy portrait of regional security, the report showed that as at August 2016, at least 28 African countries were embroiled in internal conflicts fuelled by a total of 220 armed opposition and insurgency groups. Of these the Democratic Republic of Cong leads the pack with 36 armed opposition groups, followed by Libya with 28. South Sudan comes next with 26 warring groups while Nigeria is fourth with 20 armed groups.
Whilst Nigeria’s ranking might not at first appear alarming, crisis monitors are already hitting the panic button considering that the country has jumped from its 13th position in May 2015 to the fourth position in August 2016; a record time of just 15 months.
The number, therefore, of non-state armed or resistance groups that have taken up arms against the Federal Republic of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has risen from two on May 29, 2015, to 20 in August 2016.
The Intersociety report showed that in May 2015 the number of active armed opposition groups (AOGs) in Nigeria was two: the Boko Haram terror group and Fulani armed nomadic herdsmen.
Hitherto armed groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF) were disarmed, demobilised and granted amnesty in 2009 under the leadership of late Umaru Yar’Adua. There was also a splinter group of Boko Haram called Ansaru, which was later absorbed by Boko Haram under the Islamic State West Africa, ISWA.
Today, however, the number of armed groups in Nigeria has grown in multiples. They include the Islamic State West Africa and the Movement for Unity & Jihad in West Africa – both offshoots of ISIS and Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb; the Boko Haram; Armed nomadic herdsmen and the resurrected and re-armed Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
Others are the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force; the Niger Delta Liberation Front; Niger Delta Avengers; Biafra Avengers; Red Egbesu Water Lions; Asawana Deadly Force of the Niger Delta, the Adaka Boro Marine Commandos; the Utorogon Liberation Movement; Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force; and the Joint Revolutionary Council of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force. Yet others are the Red Scorpion; the Ultimate Warriors of the Niger Delta; the Niger Delta Red Squad; Niger Delta Vigilante; the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate; the Ijaw/Oduduwa Militant Movement (in Ogun and Lagos States) and the Agatu Warriors in Benue State.
The report also mentioned Nigeria as the third largest defence and security spender in Africa after Algeria and Angola. While Nigeria spends about $4 billion, the figure for Algeria is $10.4 billion and Angola $6 billion.
Other African countries mentioned in the report with a large number of armed opposition groups (AOGs) are Sudan, 19; Mali, 17; the Central Africa Republic, 10; Egypt, 9; Ethiopia, 8; Algeria, 4; Eritrea, 4; and Somaliland, 4. Uganda has 3 while Mauritania, Kenya, Chad and Angola have 2 each. Morocco (Western Sahara), Tunisia, Senegal, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Puntland, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Cameroon and Burundi are listed in the report as having one armed opposition group each.