John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Buhari Discusses the Future of the Civilian Joint Task Force

by John Campbell
Members of civilian joint task force members check vehicles at a checkpoint in Maiduguri May 22, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Members of civilian joint task force members check vehicles at a checkpoint in Maiduguri May 22, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) is a body of vigilantes, recruited by local and state governments, that has assisted the Nigerian security services in the struggle against Boko Haram. They are widely said to have invaluable local knowledge. Critics, however, have been concerned about their lack of discipline and their alleged personal score-settling. They are also accused of serious human rights abuses. Now that they are armed, there has been concern about what they will do if and when the struggle against Boko Haram concludes. Read more »

Opposition to U.S. Military Aircraft Sale to Nigeria

by John Campbell
U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Clayton, an 81st Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, flies an A-29 Super Tucano in the skies over Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, U.S., March 5, 2015. (Reuters/enior Airman Ryan Callaghan) U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Clayton, an 81st Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, flies an A-29 Super Tucano in the skies over Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, U.S., March 5, 2015. (Reuters/enior Airman Ryan Callaghan)

The New York Times on May 18 opposed the U.S. sale of military aircraft to Nigeria in an editorial titled Block the Sale of Warplanes to Nigeria. The core of the editorial’s argument is that President Muhammadu Buhari has not done enough to respond to charges that the Nigerian army has committed war crimes in its fight against Boko Haram. The newspaper also asserts that “Nigeria’s government cannot be entrusted with the versatile new warplanes, which can be used for ground attacks as well as reconnaissance.” Read more »

Attacks Accelerate on Nigeria’s Oil Infrastructure

by John Campbell
Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

According to Bloomberg, militant attacks on the oil infrastructure in the Niger delta have resulted in the lowest level of production in Nigeria in twenty years, falling below 1.7 million barrels a day. As such, Nigeria is no longer Africa’s largest oil producer; Angola is. Bloomberg, citing the International Energy Agency, estimates that the Nigerian government could lose $1 billion in revenue by the end of May. It appears that some of the oil companies are withdrawing “non-essential” workers out of concern for their safety. Read more »

Theft, the Nigerian Security Services, and Boko Haram

by John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers, handcuffed in pairs, leave the court premises after the opening of the General court-martial in Abuja, October 2, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian soldiers, handcuffed in pairs, leave the court premises after the opening of the General court-martial in Abuja, October 2, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

From 2011, when it re-emerged, until early 2015, Boko Haram inflicted one defeat after another on the Nigerian security services, principally the army. Boko Haram carved out a territory the size of the U.S. state of Maryland, and threatened Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and a major Nigerian city. For many observers, the seeming collapse of the Nigerian military, once regarded as the best in West Africa, was bewildering, and a sign that Boko Haram was a formidable fighting force. Boko Haram was beaten back in 2015 by a multinational effort, South African mercenaries, and a revived Nigerian military. Read more »

New U.S. Defense Cooperation Agreement With Senegal

by John Campbell
Senegalese soldiers and European trainers return to base after training during Flintlock 2016, a U.S.-led international training exercise with African militaries in Thies, Senegal, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Sylvain Cherkaoui) Senegalese soldiers and European trainers return to base after training during Flintlock 2016, a U.S.-led international training exercise with African militaries in Thies, Senegal, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Sylvain Cherkaoui)

Emblematic of the growing U.S. defense presence in West Africa is a new defense cooperation agreement signed on May 2 with Senegal. According to the low-key report carried by Associated Press (AP), the agreement improves access for the U.S. military to Senegal should they need to deploy in the event of a security or humanitarian crisis. In Dakar, U.S. Ambassador James Zumwalt said, “With this agreement, the United States military and the Senegalese military can plan better together, accomplish more with joint training, and better prepare to respond in concert to risks to our shared interests.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 23-29

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 23, to April 29, 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 »

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 »

No Legal Rhino Horn Trade for South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The South African government has announced that it will not petition the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for a legal trade in rhinoceros horn. South Africa formed a committee to determine the viability of a legal trade in rhino horn in February 2015. After nearly a year of deliberating, the committee’s recommendation was “that the current mode of keeping the country’s stock levels be kept as opposed to the trading in rhino horns.” Read more »

Africa Returns to the Markets

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration) Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

In early April, South Africa issued its first sovereign bond in over two years. The ten-year, $1.25 billion bond was oversubscribed by a factor of two. This is the first international bond issued by a sub-Saharan African nation in 2016. It is likely to be followed by Kenyan, Nigerian, and Ghanaian issuances. Read more »

The International Criminal Court and Kenya’s Deputy President

by John Campbell
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto smiles in Nairobi (C, L) after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out post-election violence charges against him, in this April 5, 2016,handout picture. (Reuters/Charles Kimani/Presidential Press Service/Handout) Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto smiles in Nairobi (C, L) after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out post-election violence charges against him, in this April 5, 2016,handout picture. (Reuters/Charles Kimani/Presidential Press Service/Handout)

Contrary to misleading headlines, the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not acquit Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio personality Joshua Arap Sang of charges related to violence in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. (Amnesty International cites an estimate that there were 1,200 deaths and 350,000 persons displaced by the violence.) Instead of acquittal, the ICC vacated the charges and discharged the accused, but without prejudice to the prosecutor’s right to reprosecute in the future. Read more »