John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Christian Association of Nigeria Warns Against Arrest of Goodluck Jonathan

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

According to Nigerian media, the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) warned President Muhammadu Buhari that “Nigeria would boil” if former President Goodluck Jonathan, the “hero of democracy,” were arrested as part of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. Read more »

Nigerian Security Services, Boko Haram, and the 2015 Zaria Shiite Massacre

by John Campbell
Shiite men talk while sitting under posters of their Islamic leaders in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Shiite men talk while sitting under posters of their Islamic leaders in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

In 2009, following Boko Haram’s apparent revolt, the details of which remain murky and contentious, the Nigerian security services, mostly the army, destroyed the group’s Maiduguri compound. The army arrested then Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and turned him over to the police, who extrajudicially murdered him. The army killed at least eight hundred of his followers and family members. Boko Haram survivors went underground only to emerge in 2011 under a new, bloodthirsty leader: Abubakar Shekau. Read more »

Boko Haram Tied to the Self-Proclaimed Islamic State

by John Campbell
Libyan soldiers man a checkpoint in Wadi Bey, west of the Islamic State-held city of Sirte, February 23, 2016. (Reuters/Ismail Zitouny) Libyan soldiers man a checkpoint in Wadi Bey, west of the Islamic State-held city of Sirte, February 23, 2016. (Reuters/Ismail Zitouny)

Especially after Boko Haram “face” Abubakar Shekau’s March 2015, pledge of allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, there has been speculation that the two movements are drawing closer together. However, there has up to now been little evidence of tactical or strategic cooperation. That could be changing. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 16-22

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from April 16, to April 22, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
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Taking the Temperature of Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by John Campbell
A soldier walks through a burnt building at the headquarters of Michika local government in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A soldier walks through a burnt building at the headquarters of Michika local government in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The Nigeria security services regularly announce successes against Boko Haram. Earlier in April, they announced the arrest of Khalid al-Barnawi, a leader of Ansaru—a Boko Haram splinter—and have claimed thereby to have disrupted at least some terrorist networks. Over the weekend of April 16 and 17, the military announced the discovery of a large cache of Boko Haram weapons. An army spokesman said that the captured weapons were worth 20 million naira (the equivalent of roughly $100 thousand, at the official exchange rate, much less at the floating black market rate). The spokesman also said that the army recovered a generator, a Hilux vehicle, and several motorcycles. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 9-15

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from April 9, to April 15, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

The Ransom of Nigeria’s Chibok School Girls

by John Campbell
Women carrying placards attend a street protest campaigning for the rescue of abducted Chibok girls, in the Ikeja district of Lagos, Nigeria April 14, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Women carrying placards attend a street protest campaigning for the rescue of abducted Chibok girls, in the Ikeja district of Lagos, Nigeria April 14, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The fate of the 219 school girls Boko Haram kidnapped in 2014 has become a feature of the “face” of Nigeria abroad and also increasingly at home. On April 15, for the first time, the Nigerian Senate asked the relevant security agencies for a briefing on the Chibok girls. This is in response to the release of a ‘proof of life‘ video depicting the girls. Read more »

Fissures Within South Africa’s Governing Party

by John Campbell
Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) has long been a big tent, with its membership united by opposition to apartheid and, less salient, support for “nonracial” democracy. Conventional wisdom has seen the ANC membership, policy, and electoral support as revolving around four poles or tendencies:  the “democrats,” devoted to Nelson Mandela’s vision of nonracial democracy and the protection of human rights; the South African Communist Party (SACP), in many ways a Marxist party of a generation ago in Western Europe, but also devoted to a nonracial state; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which promotes the interests of the country’s “labor aristocracy” rather than the unskilled unemployed; and the “Africanists,”  those who want a redistribution of wealth from whites to blacks and an assertion of black identity that recalls the Black Power movement in the United States. (Many of them would drop the nonracial modifiers of democracy.) Depending on the issue, support varies for each of these “tendencies,” and there is substantial overlap. In any event, however sliced and diced, the ANC is likely to remain intact to contest the August provincial and local government elections. Read more »

Nigeria’s Female Suicide Bombers

by John Campbell
A security officer scans a woman entering a health clinic at Minawao refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Joe Penney) A security officer scans a woman entering a health clinic at Minawao refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

Boko Haram’s suicide bomber female recruits are objects of fascination and horror. The New York Times, citing the Long War Journal, says that Boko Haram has used at least 105 women and girls for suicide attacks since June 2014. In addition, UNICEF reports that Boko Haram has used an increased number of child suicide bombers; 75 percent of these children are young girls. As a tactic, suicide bombing is remarkably successful, killing hundreds and undermining popular confidence in the Nigerian government’s ability to provide security in areas liberated from Boko Haram. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 2-8

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from April 2, to April 8, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.

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