News / Africa

Arms Fuel Sectarian, Insurgent Violence in Nigeria

Residents stand in front of destroyed properties and houses following an attack in the northeast Nigerian village of Kawuri, Jan. 28, 2014.
Residents stand in front of destroyed properties and houses following an attack in the northeast Nigerian village of Kawuri, Jan. 28, 2014.
Heather Murdock
Scores of people have been killed and entire villages burned to the ground in recent days in ongoing battles between herders and farmers in rural northern and central Nigeria.  Northern leaders say weapons are being smuggled into Nigeria from other African conflicts and security forces are increasingly outgunned and outmanned. 

Cow herders in northern Nigeria said an AK-47 can cost about $2,000, but they sometimes had no choice but to sell some animals to protect the rest from thieves.

Attacks and counter attacks between farmers and cow herders in Nigeria have been going on for decades, but in recent years, insurgency and political crises have intensified the fighting.

The national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association of Nigeria, Sale Bayari, said regional insecurity had in some cases driven down the price of weapons to as little as a few sacks of maize.

“Because of the crisis in Libya, the crisis in Niger, the crisis in Mali we believe that a lot of arms, we know, got their way into Nigeria,” said Bayari.

More weapons, he said, mean more casualties in battles.  More casualties mean more revenge attacks. 

The chairman of the Northern Governor’s Forum, Niger State Governor Aliyu Babangida, said hundreds of people have been killed in clashes during the past week. 

At a conference on Monday he asked the federal government to send more troops to guard international borders where weapons are smuggled into Nigeria.

“The forum calls on the federal government to secure the country’s porous borders by restricting transport and movement, especially in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe,” said the governor.

The three states he mentions have been under emergency rule for nine months as security forces battle Islamist militants known as Boko Haram.

The group has killed thousands of people in the past four and a half years.  This insurgency is a separate issue from clashes between cow herders and farmers, but the crises feed off each other. 

In general, the clashes are between Muslim cow herders and Christian farmers, and the groups are also divided from each other ethnically and politically. 

Imam Sani Isa, from the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation of Nigeria, said Boko Haram, which says it wants to enforce its own harsh version of Islamic law, fueled hostilities between Christians and Muslims by claiming its attacks were motivated by religion.

"The insurgents of Boko Haram increase the volume of the conflict in the north between the Christians and the Muslims," said Isa.

This week, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, which is the heart of the insurgency, angered federal officials by saying insurgents have more weapons and more motivation than Nigerian security forces.

At a press conference in the Nigerian capital Tuesday, a spokesperson for President Goodluck Jonathan said violence has increased recently because security forces have chased Boko Haram fighters from their hideouts and that nearly a quarter of Nigeria’s national budget in 2014 is allotted for security.  


(Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.)

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ajakayi Ija
February 19, 2014 4:52 PM
The main reason why it is difficult to contain Boko Haram is that they are not located at a specific war front. Members are part of the common populace, walking the streets without uniform until called up for operation, engaged in self employment activities, and seeing the federal law enforcement agents go by. Without a war front they are virtually invisible - they see federal troops, but federal troops cannot see them. Contain the northen borders? Unfortunately that cannot happen as long as corruption is alive.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid