Northwestern Nigeria is suffering from an intense, destabilising conflict that has flown under the radar of international policymakers and analysts.
Since the mid-2010, conflict has led to the killing of at least 12,000 (the true toll is likely much higher), displaced over a million people, and led to the shuttering of hundreds of schools and colleges across the region. The Nigerian state is all but absent from large swathes of the northwest, with even the federal highways unsafe for government officials and their armed escorts.
The bandits number in the low 10,000, making them more numerous than the country’s jihadists, and they have developed surprising fighting capacity, shooting down military jets and breaching the Nigerian Defense Academy (Barnett and Rufai, 2021). The incidences of bandit action is shown in the table below. The table shows that between March 2021 and April 2023, there have been about 1,305 casualties, 1690 kidnap victims and 352 incidents, 308 casualties, 129 kidnap victims and 58 incidents documented from bandit actions in Kaduna and Sokoto State respectively. In reality these numbers may be more.
In Sokoto State, violence has broken out in nine of the 23 local government areas, but mostly in Gada, Sabon Birni, Goronyo and Isa to the north, along with Rabah and Tureta to the east (International Crisis Group, 2020).
The security situation is particularly alarming in the eight eastern LGAs of Sokoto state that share a border with Zamfara State, which comprises Gada, Isa, Sabon Birni, Wurno, Rabah, Goronyo, Illela, and Gwadabawa.
For instance, since the commencement of protection monitoring activities in July 2021 by GISCOR, serial attacks by non-State armed groups (NSAG) were reported in Tsamye, Gangara and Dambo villages of Sabon Birni; Birjingo Village of Goronyo LGA; Kogogo Lambar Tofa , Doliyom, Amgamba, and Rijiyar Bugaje, all in Rabah LGA. In addition to the whirls of attacks that destroyed lives and property which characterise the situation of the most affected LGAs, the NSAG also attacked Sokoto Municipality on 29 August 2021, a development that heightened fears generally and constituted a threat to other parts of the State that currently enjoy relative peace…
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