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Fri, Sep 8, 2023 10:35 PM

Rival Factions Fuel Violence and Uncertainty in Northern Nigeria

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Rival Factions Fuel Violence and Uncertainty in Northern Nigeria
Rival factions within Boko Haram and the rise of Ansaru have intensified violence and insecurity in northern Nigeria. The splinter groups have expanded their operations, collaborating with local bandits and other armed groups, posing a significant challenge to the Nigerian security forces. This article delves into the complex dynamics of the conflict, highlighting the impact on civilian populations and the potential for further escalation.

Lagos, Nigeria - Three years ago, Hussaini Abubakar feared the worst when armed men on motorbikes and in military camouflage stormed Damari, his village in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria.

Unlike the bandits who have been troubling the region over the last decade and whose terror routines Abubakar's community knew too well, these attackers were different.

"They were Ansaru jihadists, and some of them are Boko Haram terrorists who had previously terrorized northeastern states," the 37-year-old farmer told Al Jazeera.

"We were honestly scared of how they were moving with sophisticated weapons, and their arrival led to clashes with bandits, which denied us [farmers] access to farms. That is why our farms remain bushy, and some farmers are migrating."

The rise of Ansaru, one of the factions within Boko Haram, alongside the ongoing activities of bandits in Kaduna, has further compounded the violence and insecurity in northwest Nigeria.

Baban Abba, a Kaduna-based security analyst, highlights the similarities between Ansaru and Boko Haram, stating, "Ansaru is not different from Boko Haram. They are doing what Boko Haram did in the northeast, only with different tactics."

Ansaru, initially formed in 2011 by commanders who disagreed with Boko Haram's ultra-takfir approach, reemerged in 2019 as an Al-Qaeda franchise in Nigeria. They capitalized on their fight against the government to gain support from vulnerable Muslim-majority communities.

However, recent military offensives have left Ansaru weak and unable to protect these communities, resulting in the takeover of villages by local bandits. The power vacuum left behind has created a security crisis, with the villages becoming hotspots for crime and violence.

The split within Boko Haram has also contributed to the volatile situation. The faction known as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which aligned more with the Islamic State, has become the dominant force in the group.

ISWAP focuses on guerrilla warfare and has established a form of governance in some communities, offering services like water, healthcare, and security. This has led to a drop in civilian casualties but an increase in military deaths.

Meanwhile, under the leadership of Bakura, the other faction of Boko Haram has been evolving in tactics and copycatting ISWAP's taxation system. However, the sustainable model and advice received from ISIS give ISWAP an edge.

The rivalry between ISWAP and Boko Haram's faction led to devastating attacks in 2022 and subsequent reprisals. This internal conflict has weakened both groups and led to fissures within ISWAP.

As the conflict rages on, these factions and other armed groups have started expanding their operations beyond their traditional strongholds. Collaboration between jihadist groups and local bandits has become more common, posing a significant challenge to the Nigerian security forces.

Northern Nigeria has become a battleground for rival factions and armed groups seeking control over territories. The interlinked states of Kaduna, Niger, Katsina, and Zamfara are particularly vulnerable due to their geographical proximity.

The complex dynamics of the conflict have also given rise to the emergence of the Ansaru sect, backed by Al-Qaeda. Ansaru has started partnering with bandits in northwest Nigeria, further exacerbating the security crisis.

The implications of these rivalries and collaborations are far-reaching. Nigeria's largest state, Niger state, faces the possibility of Al-Qaeda gaining a foothold, which would be a formidable challenge for the already stretched-thin security services.

As the violence and uncertainty continue to grip northern Nigeria, civilians bear the brunt of the conflict. Displacement, fear, and the absence of basic services have become a harsh reality for thousands of people.

If the current trajectory persists, the violence is likely to escalate, threatening the stability of not only northern Nigeria but the entire country. It is imperative for the Nigerian government to address the root causes of these conflicts and implement sustainable strategies to restore peace and security.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-09-08 News

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