Nigeria’s Capital Is Encircled By Insecurity. It Looks Like This

Surrounded by states grappling with various forms of insecurity, Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has recently seen a number of attacks that demonstrate its vulnerability to violent crimes and terror attacks.

Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has been recording several attacks on its outskirts, with terrorists from neighbouring states slowly trickling into the seat of power. According to ACLED data, armed non-state actors have had a heavy presence in areas within and surrounding the FCT since the beginning of January, 2022.

Residents of Abuja’s outskirt towns, such as Kwali and Kuje, have since complained of kidnappings for ransom, prompting security forces to bust a cell in the area. Residents who spoke to HumAngle are concerned that the insecurity will spread to other parts of the FCT. 

According to the FCT administration, terrorists dislodged from other locations in the North of the country have been relocating to towns around Abuja. There is currently an increase in surveillance and vigilance in areas such as Kubwa, where residents fear that terrorists could strike. 

Last month, a security source reportedly told a news outlet about intelligence briefs of terrorists infiltrating Abuja and likely risk of attacks in places where people congregate, such as market areas, mosques, and churches. The tense atmosphere in the Capital has led to an abrupt closure of schools in the FCT. 

The situation was exacerbated by the Kuje prison jailbreak. The overrunning of the facility and release of prisoners was claimed by ISWAP, which is also responsible for a series of attacks on police officers in Suleja, a local government in Niger state that shares a border with Abuja. The group is also behind an attack on military checkpoint near the famous Zuma Rock.

Some incidents have also been linked to unidentified assailants. These incidents range from armed attacks on civilians to armed battles between the state and non-state actors, such as the attack  on soldiers of the Presidential Guards Brigade in the FCT’s Bwari area.

This is not Abuja’s first dance with insecurity in recent times. In April 2014, a suicide attack killed over 89 people and damaged several vehicles in Abuja’s Nyanya motor park. Earlier in 2011, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated a bomb-laden vehicle at the Nigeria Police Headquarters.

To understand the extent of the current insecurity and vulnerability of Abuja, HumAngle has summarised the trend in maps for neighbouring states.

Kaduna

The map is interactive. You can zoom in to see exact location.

Kaduna is one of the Northwest states experiencing heavy insecurity. It shares a southwest border with Abuja, and its towns in Kagarko Local Government Area are closer to Bwari, where Nigerian forces were attacked. The security environment in the state is complex and involves presence of armed actors such as  Al Qaeda-affiliate Ansaru, operating in Birnin Gwari forest, and other terror groups associated with the herders community. According to the state governor Nasir El-Rufai, a large portion of Kaduna remains ungovernable and invaded by terrorists. 

Over the years, Abuja-Kaduna road has remained unsafe, with frequent cases of kidnapping for ransom, most of which go unreported. In March, a terror group  kidnapped passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna train, forcing the train’s operations to be halted. 

The state has also suffered other major incidents including the kidnapping at the Greenfield University, federal College of Forestry Mechanisation and an attack on the Nigerian Defense Academy. In the Southern part of Kaduna communal clashes and attacks on communities have been recorded.

Niger

The map is interactive. You can zoom in to see exact location.

Niger state is the hardest hit by North-central Nigeria’s insecurity. The state, along with Zamfara, is at the top of the list of Nigerians killed since the beginning of 2022. 

Locals and officials have lamented about the security crisis there which has resulted in the kidnapping of  schoolchildren from Salihu Tanko Islamiyya in Tegina and schoolgirls from Government Science College Kagara. In June, over 20 residents of Rafin Daji in Abuja’s Abaji district, which shares a border with Niger were kidnapped.

Other concerns in the states include the actitivities Jihadists who raised their flags in communities and more recently, the state has witnessed ISWAP attacks in Suleja.

Kogi

The map is interactive. You can zoom in to see exact location.

Recently, Kogi state has recorded ISWAP attacks leading to the death of police officers and detonation of explosives. This is in addition to the existing insecurity including cases of kidnapping for ransom along the Abuja-Lokoja road. Last year an Army General was killed along the route. 

In July, passengers were abducted from an 18-seater bus at Ochonyi-Omoko along the Lokoja-Abuja highway. 

Last September, the medium-security prison in Kabba was also breached.  A few days ceramic workers were attacked, with five people killed, including an Indian and two police officers.

Nasarawa

The map is interactive. You can zoom in to see exact location.

Nasarawa is another border state impacted by insecurity. Last month, the security conditions led to the State government closing public and private schools.

During a military operation last year, soldiers discovered explosive-making facility in the camp reportedly belonging to “Darul Salam” terror group. The discovery was part of an ongoing operation named Whirl Stroke. 

In 2020, the Air Force announced the use of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja for  air support operations in  Nasarawa and environs.

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