Niger Delta Annual Conflict Tracker (January – December 2017)

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The Niger Delta of Nigeria is highly heterogeneous with over 40 ethnic groups who speak more than 100 languages and dialects. The region comprises 185 out of the 774 local government areas and covers 9 out of the 36 states of Nigeria: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers. With over 30 million people, according to a 2006 population census, and an estimated population density of 265 people per square kilometer, the region accounts for more than 23 percent of Nigeria’s population.

The Niger Delta area contains vast reserves of oil and gas, which play an important role in the Nigerian economy. In spite of these abundant natural resources, the Niger Delta is marked by poverty, economic underdevelopment, inequality, and environmental degradation. Historical tensions and a proliferation of armed groups (militant, criminal, and ethno-sectarian) contribute to changing conflict and security dynamics in the region.

The Niger Delta peace and conflict landscape has undergone significant changes since 2009 when the Federal government commenced a Presidential Amnesty Program for ex-militants in the region. However, the relative security brought about by the amnesty program has been eroded by the emergence of other conflict issues.  This report examines the trends and patterns of conflict risk and violence, identifies key interrelated drivers and pressures on peace and stability at the regional state and local levels. Data sources include ACLED (www.acleddata.com), Nigeria Watch (www.nigeriawatch.org), CIEPD (https://ciepdcwc.crowdmap.com), NSRP Sources (focused on Violence Affecting Women and Girls), IPDU SMS early warning system, and others.

The Niger Delta peace and conflict landscape has undergone significant changes since 2009 when the Federal government commenced a Presidential Amnesty Program for ex-militants in the region. However, the relative security brought about by the amnesty program has been eroded by the emergence of other conflict issues.  This report examines the trends and patterns of conflict risk and violence, identifies key interrelated drivers and pressures on peace and stability at the regional state and local levels. Data sources include ACLED (www.acleddata.com), Nigeria Watch (www.nigeriawatch.org), CIEPD (https://ciepdcwc.crowdmap.com), NSRP Sources (focused on Violence Affecting Women and Girls), IPDU SMS early warning system, and others.

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According to data (www.p4p-nigerdelta.org), there was a remarkable change in the trends and patterns of conflict risk and violence in the Niger Delta in 2017, compared to the trend in 2016. Criminality and gang violence were the most prevalent conflict issues in 2016, while communal violence, especially tensions over land dispute as well as herder/farmer clashes, was a prevalent conflict issue in 2017. Key incidents in 2017 included inter-communal tensions, robbery, cult clashes, kidnapping, piracy, militancy/counter-insurgency operations, ethno-nationalist agitations, mob violence, killing for ritualistic purposes, political tensions, riots/protests, domestic and sexual violence. Piracy was the most lethal type of violence in 2017. According to data, on the average, every incident of piracy results in seven fatalities. This is followed by inter-communal conflict with an average of five fatalities per incident.

Communal conflict was the most violent conflict issue during the year, driven mainly by inter-communal tensions and land disputes, and it caused 636 fatalities in 134 incidents. Communal violence was reported in all the states in the region and it was prevalent in Delta, Cross River and Akwa Ibom state.

Organized criminality was also prevalent, and it contributed the most to insecurity in all the states in the region. Criminality was prevalent in Delta, Rivers and Edo state, and it involved mainly kidnapping for ransom, robbery and other forms of gun violence.

Gang violence was one of the top three most lethal conflict issues in the region during the period. Gang-related violence resulted in 185 fatalities in 48 reported incidents. Gang violence was reported in all the states in the region, but it was more widespread in Rivers, Cross River and Edo state. It was mainly driven by rival cult clashes and supremacy battles among the numerous cult groups in the region, as well as general criminality.

Militancy also caused several fatalities during this period, especially in Bayelsa, Ondo and Rivers state, driven mainly by attacks by militants and counter-insurgency operations of security forces.

The hotspots of conflict in the region remained largely unchanged in 2017, compared to 2016. According to data (www.p4p-nigerdelta.org), the most violent states during period, based on the number of reported conflict fatalities, were Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers. The most violent local government areas (LGAs) in 2017 were Itu (Akwa Ibom), Yala (Cross River), Calabar Municipal (Cross River), Port Harcourt (Rivers), Yenagoa (Bayelsa) Odukpani (Cross River), Uruan (Akwa Ibom), Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (Rivers), Oredo (Edo), Obio/Akpor (Rivers), Calabar South (Cross River), Emohua (Rivers), Warri South West (Delta), Umuahia North (Abia), and Ese-Odo (Ondo).

 

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