John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Caught in the Crossfire: What Future for Women and Children in Nigeria’s Forgotten Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A mother holds her malnourished baby at the Molai General Hospital Maiduguri, Nigeria, November 30, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabai Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Sherrie Russell-Brown. Sherrie is an international lawyer, who writes about issues of gender, security, international justice and humanitarian law, with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. She also coordinates a collaborative group of experts dedicated to promoting research and analysis on the Sahel, and, in particular, the Boko Haram insurgency. Read more »

Biafra and the U.S.-Nigeria Relationship

by John Campbell
Supporters of Nnamdi Kanu are seen outside the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria January 10, 2017. (Reuters/Stringer)

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a separatist movement that seeks to recreate Biafra as an independent state. From 1967-70, there was a civil war over Biafra’s attempt to secede that left up to two million Nigerians dead. Ever since, the Nigerian government has tried to crack down on Biafra secessionist movements. Hence, it’s imprisonment of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. Read more »

Possible End to the Gambia Crisis

by John Campbell
Gambian refugees in a wooden canoe approach a beach in the Senegalese village of Niafarang, Senegal, January 17, 2017. (Reuters/Emma Farge)

Adama Barrow was sworn-in January 19 as the president of the Gambia at his country’s embassy in Dakar. He was the victor in the Gambia’s presidential elections on December 11. However, Yahya Jammeh, the loser of the election, who has ruled Gambia since 1994, refuses to step down. The members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the Senegalese at the lead have sent in military forces. The UN Security Council, which convened today, announced its support of Barrow, but emphasized pursuing a political transition first. Read more »

Nigerian Air Force Mistakenly Bombs IDP Camp

by John Campbell
Women gather at a water collecting point at the internally displaced people's camp in Bama, Borno State, Nigeria, August 31, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

There is heavy media attention to the Nigerian air force’s tragic, accidental bombing of a camp for internally displaced persons near Rann, in northeast Nigeria. Though details are hardly definitive, it appears that the attack resulted from the mistaken identification of the camp as a center of Boko Haram. (Recently, Boko Haram has been active in the area.) As is usually the case when such accidents happen in northeast Nigeria, the numbers killed are not definitively known, but appear to be in the fifty to one hundred range. The media reports that the number of dead is likely to increase because of the difficulty of evacuating the wounded from an isolated area and because of the inadequacy of medical facilities in the camp. The dead include humanitarian workers for the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. Both organizations have issued scathing public statements. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: January 7 – January 13

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 January 7 to January 13, 2017. 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 »

Delta Militant Group Turns Against Buhari

by John Campbell
A militant of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) guards hostages of the Philippines at an undisclosed location on the creeks of Niger Delta, January 31, 2007. (Reuters/George Esiri)

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) announced New Year’s Day that it had passed a vote of no confidence in President Buhari. Prior to the 2015 election, MEND had endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari, rather than Goodluck Jonathan. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: December 24 – December 30

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 December 24, 2016 to December 30, 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 Truth About Boko Haram in Nigeria’s Sambisa Forest

by John Campbell
Writings describing Boko Haram are seen along a street in Bama, in Borno, Nigeria, August 31, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On Christmas Eve, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the Nigerian army had driven the remnants of Boko Haram out of its last stronghold, the Sambisa Forest. A Nigerian army spokesman said that it had recovered Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s personal copy of the Koran and his flag from “Camp Zero,” apparently the Boko Haram headquarters. An army spokesman said that the chief of Army Staff would present the holy book to President Buhari. The army also said that it had arrested 1,240 suspected Boko Haram terrorists. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: December 17 – December 23

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 December 17, 2016 to December 23, 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 »

Nigerian Security Service Abuses

by John Campbell
A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for internally displaced people (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Security service abuses in Nigeria, primarily by the army and the police, date from colonial times. Observers commonly accept that such abuses are an important driver of recruitment by Boko Haram and other insurgencies. There has been a drumbeat of criticism of the Jonathan and Buhari administrations’ seeming lack of action to curb the abuses. Of late, a focus of that criticism has been credible allegations of security service abuse of civilians, especially rape of women, in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northeast. Read more »