John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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Weekly Map of Political and Ethnic Violence in Nigeria

by John Campbell
April 14, 2014

Bomb experts search for evidences in front of buses at a bomb blast scene at Nyanyan in Abuja April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Bomb experts search for evidences in front of buses at a bomb blast scene at Nyanyan in Abuja April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Holy Week in Nigeria is off to an ugly start. A bomb detonated during rush hour at a bus station in Abuja’s suburb Nyana on April 14, killed at least seventy-one people, destroyed at least sixteen “luxury buses” and twenty-four mini buses. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility, but it has the marks of a “Boko Haram” operation.

There is no clue as yet as to which strain of that diffuse movement might be responsible or whether the timing specifically targeted Holy Week. Boko Haram and a splinter group Ansaru, have previously conducted attacks against Christian institutions and during Christian holidays.

Abubakar Shekau, the most prominent Boko Haram leader, in his latest video released on March 24, called for accelerated attacks on Abuja and other areas outside its traditional area of operations in the north east. Monday’s operation, the second large scale one in Abuja associated with “Boko Haram” in the past four weeks, may be a manifestation of Shekau’s call for more attacks in the capital. The previous one happened on Sunday, March 30. That day, “Boko Haram” apparently engineered a jail break from Yellow House, the headquarters of the State Security Service in Abuja, followed by a pitched battle that, according to eye witnesses living in the neighborhood, lasted up to three hours. Yellow House is adjacent to Aso Villa, the residence of President Goodluck Jonathan. His spokesman said that the president did not leave the Villa during the fighting. As is usual, the authorities provided few details and blocked media access to the site. The explosion at the Nyana bus station may be different because it is a major transport hub and difficult to close off. Hence, more details may be forthcoming.

Above is the weekly map of violence that took place on April 5-10 in Nigeria. It can also be found here. It does not include Monday’s Abuja attack—that will be included in this week’s map that we anticipate posting on April 21.

The alleged Boko Haram attack in Jigawa recorded on the April 5-10 map is a new development. Up to now, Jigawa had been relatively free of violence. The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) recorded only nine deaths from violence in the state from May 2011 to the end of March 2014. The attack in Jigawa may be an example of the geographic spread in Boko Haram operations that Shekau called for.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of violence. In NST methodology (upon which the “Weekly Incidents” map is based) “other” refers to civilians, bystanders, and those not engaged in a violent offensive.

The notable attack in Zamfara, coded by the NST as “sectarian” because the media refers to “Hausa” gunmen, led to the death of 112 people. Ironically and tragically, they were meeting to discuss the communal violence in the area.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Chike

    A few days ago you wrote about General Gusau & his competence.

    Well, it seems as if Boko Haram has defied the best efforts of a national security adviser (Sambo) and a defense minister (Gusau) – all from the North.

    Any perceptive Nigerian would tell you that the entire apparatus of state security needs to be overhauled. The Nigerian police is not fit for purpose, the Nigerian Army cannot do counter-insurgency effectively because it looks down on civilians as “sub-human”.

    So Boko Haram continues.

    And the solution to this problem is not merely “a Northern president in 2015″ – as many Western analysts imply (not so subtly). The solution is to critically examine the points of failure in the Nigerian state and to develop a new internal political architecture to deal with these issues.

    The fear of domination by the “other” is clouding genuine attempts at reconciliation and dealing with this issue. Politicians (across the divide) are using this to their advantage.

    We’ve been down this route before, in 1965 – nobody “won” those elections, the entire political class lost. Unlike then, you can do “military intervention” now without risking implosion.

  • Posted by Nasir Abba

    I agree with Chike above. The NSA, Defence Minister and the IGP of Police are from the same zone, yet, the problems remain. The entire system needs to be overhauled for any meaningful result.

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