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Insurgency in Africa

Updated October 13, 2020
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Insurgency in Africa essay

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It is common knowledge that the fundamental responsibility of the State is the security of the life, and property of its citizens. Others include the protection of its territorial integrity and the guarantee of socioeconomic and political stability. However, since the mid-twentieth century, this protective duty of the State, its sovereignty, and territoriality, as well as the economy, have been under threat due to the upsurge in militant Islamism and the globalization of terrorism. This threat has been driven by the emergence and rise of violent Non-State Actors (VNSAs) (Williams, 2008; p.1), who have taken advantage of the instruments and process of globalization to carry out ferocious attacks on citizens, institutions and critical infrastructures of the State. Although terrorism with its consequent negative effect date back to prehistoric time otherwise referred to as “antiquity” (Chailand and Blin, 2007; p.79), its prevalence and escalation have been accentuated in the twenty-first century, especially since the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center (WTC) in the United States by the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. That attack has been followed by many similar attacks in Africa, Asia, and Europe the Middle East and other parts of the world.

Terrorism in Nigeria, of the other ranges of terrorism like suicide bombing, and car bombing also took the dimension of kidnapping and bombing of oil facilities. In Africa, however, terrorism-related violence dates back to the late 1990s. On August 7, 1998, two massive bombings simultaneously took place outside the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya killing 224 people and injuring 5,000 others. Responsibility was quickly traced to Al-Qaeda. Four years afterward Al-Qaeda operatives struck again, killing 15 people in an Israeli owned hotel near Mombasa, Kenya and simultaneously fired missiles at an Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombasa airport (Lyman and Morrison, 2004;p.1). Since September 11, 2001, the continent has experienced a significant increase in planned and actual attacks by terrorist networks. Weak domestic security, failure in governance, Porous borders, the proliferation of weapons from destabilized countries in the aftermath of the Arab Spring as well as globalization have provided terrorist groups the leeway to carry out audacious attacks in Africa including Nigeria (Onvoba 2012). As of 2014, Africa had become a haven for an assortment of terrorist networks and groups that are closely inter-connected with international affiliations and linkages. This was supported by the 2014 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report that 82 percent of people killed in terrorist attacks across the world were put in five countries, namely, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria. The index further identified Angola, Burundi, Central Africa, Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Uganda as being at risk of increased terrorist attacks due to the presence of the following factors; Extrajudicial killing, lack of women’s political right, lack of intergroup cohesion, political instability and sit tight syndrome (Global Terrorism Index 2014;p.2).

In Nigeria, there were the activities of Maitatsine, a domestic Islamic fundamental group that operated prominently in Kano and Yola in the 1970s. Under the leadership of Muhammed Marwa, Maitatsine (one who damn) sect on December 18, 1980, launched attacks on police formations, government establishment, Churches, Christians, and moderate Muslims. The attacks led to the death of four policemen and injury of many others including civilians as well as the destruction of properties (Falola 1990). The growing audacity of Boko Haram, among other terrorist groups in Nigeria since 2009 and the intractable nature of their operation have become part of the several developments that have made Nigeria a country of increasing security concern. Following and anti-government revolt it waged in July 2001 which attracted worldwide attention, Boko Haram has escalated, targeting security and law enforcement institutions, critical public infrastructure, communities, politicians, centers of worship, market, schools, hospitals, media houses and other civilian targets. Its operational tactics have equally evolved from lowly planned more open confrontations with State security forces and agencies to increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeted assassinations, ambush, drive by shooting, abduction and kidnapping, suicide bombing and acquisition of territories (Ogbonnaya, Ogujiuba and Stiglar 2014).

One negative consequence of terrorism is that it poses a significant threat to human security. Secondly, it threatens international peace and security and challenges the sovereignty of nation-states as well as the territoriality, stability, and legitimacy of political regimes (United Nations Security Council, 2001a). In Nigeria, the operation of Boko Haram as of December 2015 resulted in the death of over 30,000 persons (including women, children, and operatives) and the displacement of about 1.6 million people and 17,735 refuges (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, 2015). The group had also captured and declared some parts of Nigeria as its sovereign caliphate.

Thirdly, terrorisms’ negative consequences on international and local economies are well established in the extant literature. The preponderance of terrorist groups with international linkages within the West Africa Sub-region and the Sahel, for instance, has impacted negatively on sub-regional economies. Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al-Shabaab engages in smuggling (mostly cigarettes, drugs, arms and vehicles) money laundering, extortion, kidnapping for ransom as a means of raising funds, and racketeering across the neighboring borders of Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The groups have severally attacked Algerian, Nigerian, Spanish, French and US economic interests within the sub-region (Bo 2013; Aronson, 2014; Piet, 2014). This has not only threatened the free movement of persons and services within the sub-region which is a fundamental objective of ECOWAS, but Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has also been threatened. This has retarded the economic growth of member states in particular and the sub-region in general. According to the 2014 attractiveness survey reports, “in 2013, the number of new FDI, projects in Africa declined for the second consecutive year by 3.1 percent. Job creation resulting from FDI project slowed in 2013 especially in North Africa and part of West Africa due to regional political uncertainty and terrorist operations” (TY, 2014; p.6). The overall consequences of this at the sub-regional level is that the annual percentage growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of some ECOWAS countries especially those experiencing terrorism induced security crises such as Nigeria, Mali and neighboring States like Niger and Cote D’Ivoire among others have been on the decrease since 2009 (see World Bank, 2013).

Consequently, attempts by State and non-state actors to counter the escalation of international terrorism has since the September 11, 2001 bombing of the world trade center assumed unilateral and multilateral dimensions. This is predicated upon the realization that international terrorism, as a global phenomenon, requires global concerted efforts. According to Oyebode (2012), the international consensus against terrorism is motivated by the necessity acknowledged by most states to ensure stability and regularity in international socio-political intercourse. A situation which encourages forceful change of government or subjection to the will of forces is inimical to government by law, is quite simply untenable in today’s world.

Thus at its 4385th meeting on September 28, 2001, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted resolution 1373 and agreed “to combat by all means, in accordance with the charter of the United Nations threats to international peace and stability caused by terrorist acts” (United Nations Security Council, 2001a; p.1). The resolution also called on all states to work together urgently to prevent and suppress terrorist acts including through increased cooperation and full implementation of the relevant international conventions relating to terrorism. It also recognized the need for states to prevent and suppress, in their territories through all lawful means the financing and preparation of any act of terrorism. Most fundamentally, the resolution established “a committee of the security council consisting of all the members of the council to monitor the implementation of the resolution. This marked the commencement of the Global War on Terror.

Among other resolution, the UNSC also at its 4413th meeting of November 12, 2001, adopted resolution 1377 reaffirming that “a sustained comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all member states of the United Nations and in accordance with the charter of the United Nations and international law is essential to combat the scourge of international terrorism (United Nations Security Council 2001b;p.1). Thus, using Nigeria as a focus and against the background of terrorist activities, this study seeks to assess the effectiveness and adequacy of state responses to terrorism and insurgency within the context of the Global War on terror.

Statement of the Problem

Since the September 11, 2001 attack of the world trade center, incidents of terrorist activities were first reported in Nigeria in 2009 when Boko Haram, otherwise called Famia at Aal as-Sunnah Zid-da a Natfihad (people committed to the propagation of the Sunnah and Jihad) a domestic Islamist terrorist organization under the leadership of Mohammed Yusuf organized a large-scale uprising in Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, and the Yobe States. Some of the most notable terrorist acts in Nigeria since then include the October 1, 2010, independence-day bombing at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the June 16, 2011 bombing of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, the August 26, 2011 bombing of the UN House in Abuja, the December 25, 2011 bombing Sr. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madella, Niger State, the April 15, 2014 abduction of 276 female students of the government secondary schools, Chibok, Borno State otherwise called the “Chibok Girls among many others.

Given the threat posed to the security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and economy of the Nigerian State by terrorism and insurgency, the war against terrorism by the Nigeria State has since 2009 assumed varying dimensions. The federal government has employed legislative, legal, military, fiscal and diplomatic measures in the campaign against terrorism. Thus some Anti-terrorism legislations (ATLs) such as the Terrorism Prevention Act (TPA) 2011 were enacted while others such as the Money Laundering Prohibition Act (MLPA) 2011 and the trafficking in persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 was amended to provide for some legal measures to combating terrorism and insurgency. Under these legal regimes, some masterminds of terrorist acts and their implicated sponsors have been arrested and tired in various courts of law across the country. Also, Nigeria has ratified the ECOWAS counter-terrorism and implementation strategy, 2013.

As part of a military and strategic response to combat terrorism and insurgency, the Federal Government on May 14, 2013, declared the State of Emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe State. These are States with the highest frequency of terrorist attacks in Nigeria. A fall out of this response was the mobilization and deployment of a special Joint Military and Police Task Force (JTF) to those States and some other states across Nigeria. The first phase of the State of Emergency ended on April 25, 2014, and on May 21, 2014; the Federal Republic of Nigeria endorsed the extension of the State of Emergency in the aforementioned States. On May 30, 2014, the Federal Government also adopted the National Counter Terrorism StrCounter-TerrorismOther military responses taken in the war against terrorism includes Nigeria’s deployment of its military contingents and participation in the Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) which sought to dislodge the ethnic source rebels and the Islamic terrorist group seeking to overthrow the government in Mali. According to Ali and Igbonwelundu (2013) and Madike (2013), Nigeria’s participation in AFISMA among other things was aimed at routing and completely dislodging the Islamic jihadist groups including Boko Haram which have their operational and coordinating base in Northern Mali.

To ensure effective and efficient implementation of the aforementioned military and strategic response, budgeting allocations to the security sector in Nigeria has since 2010 been on the increase from 730,379 billion in 2010 to N777,367 billion as at 2015 (see Appropriation Act, 2010 to 2015 as passed by the National Assembly).

At the diplomatic level and in line with the UNSC Resolution 1373,1377 (both of 2001), 1390 of 2002, 1535 of 2004, and 1624 of 2005 which affirm the imperative of combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestation by all means in accordance with the charter of the United Nations by member States. Nigeria has also ratified various anti-terrorism conventions, entered into bilateral and multilateral agreements with the British, French and the United States governments, among other members of the international organizations with a view to effectively combating terrorism and insurgency in its entire ramification. The country has also stimulated the revival of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) a security framework that was established in 1964 with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger as members. This has led to the formation of sub-regional security operatives, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MUTF).

The foregoing anti-terrorism responses by the government notwithstanding, terrorism and insurgency In Nigeria have remained on the rise. In 2013, Global Terrorism, Database (GTD) listed Nigeria among 10 countries with the highest number of terrorist attacks. According to the Database, there were a total of 344 terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2013 that resulted in 2003 fatalities. Arising from the Database, Boko Haram is listed as the “3rd Most Lethal Terrorist Organization” out of a total 10 coming behind the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and the levant (ISIL) (Global Terrorism Database, 2013;p.15). Again, in 2014, Global Terrorism index ranked Nigeria as the 4th most affected country with regards to incidence of terrorist attacks out of 162 countries surveyed. According to the index, 82 percent of people killed in terrorist attacks across the world were just in five countries namely Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. These countries accounted for 78 percent of the lives lost in 2015. The report further indicated that Nigeria is the 3rd most impacted country by terrorism out of 162 countries profiled experiencing the largest increase in terrorist activity with 7,512 deaths in 2015, an increase of over 300 percent since 2013 (Global Terrorism Index 2015;p.2). Most fundamentally, between 2009 and December 2015, it is estimated that the operations of Boko Haram have resulted in the death of over 30,000 persons and the displacement of about 1.6 million people and 17,738 refuges in Nigeria (International Displacement Monitoring Center, 2015). As Ban Ki-Moon United Nations Secretary-General (2017 to 2016) once described the situation saying, “terrorist attacks have become an almost daily occurrence in Nigeria” (Daily Independence, 2014).

Arising from the escalation and prevalence of terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria despite government anti-terrorism responses the following questions have been raised.
Has the rising authoritarianism of the Nigerian state resulted in an increased incidence of insurgency?
Has intense political struggle for state power worsened terrorist attacks in Nigeria?
Has an ineffective counter-terrorism strategy hindered the fight against terrorism in Nigeria?
How has mass illiteracy and the weaponisation of poverty aided insurgency?

Definition of Key Concepts

In this study, except where otherwise stated, the following concepts are used as defined below; Terrorism, Insurgency, counter-terrorism, state authoritarianism, political struggle;

Terrorism: This refers to premeditated, ethnic, religious or/and politically motivated acts of violence perpetrated by non-state or state actors against non-combatant targets and population designed to install fear and force the government to take action. Based on a UN proposed definition “any act intended to intimidate a population or compel a government or international body to act” (cited in Okolie 2015).

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Insurgency in Africa. (2020, Sep 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/insurgency-in-africa/

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