Nigeria

Overview:  ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), Boko Haram (BH), and Ansaru continued attacks against Nigerian government and security forces and civilians across the northern and central regions of Nigeria, resulting in deaths, injuries, abductions, and the destruction of property.  BH attacks did not appear to discriminate between civilians and government officials, whereas ISIS-WA generally concentrated its attacks on government and security forces and expanded efforts to implement shadow governance structures.  BH and ISIS-WA continued to fight one another, and BH was significantly degraded, while ISIS-WA expanded its geographic presence.

The Nigerian Air Force’s extensive use of A-29 Super Tucanos — purchased from the United States — against BH and ISIS-WA limited Boko Haram’s and ISIS-WA’s abilities to mass and conduct large-scale attacks in the Northeast.  However, BH and ISIS-WA exploited the military’s absence outside of “super camps” by abducting aid workers, attacking humanitarian operations hubs, and controlling security along many of the major roads.  The difficult security environment exacerbated conditions for civilians and severely constrained relief operations in northeast Nigeria.

Nigeria worked with neighboring countries under the Multinational Joint Task Force to counter terrorist activity in the region.  ISIS-WA continued to enjoy a large degree of freedom of movement throughout Borno State and eastern Yobe State.  BH and ISIS-WA terrorist actions contributed to the internal displacement of an estimated two million people in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States, and the external displacement of more than 333,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries, principally Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.

Attacks and kidnappings in the Northwest by criminal gangs, colloquially known as “bandits,” reportedly caused more civilian deaths in 2022 than did BH and ISIS-WA attacks in the Northeast.  Nigeria’s designation of these groups as terrorists under domestic law the previous year allowed increased use of the military in the Northwest.  The Indigenous People of Biafra, proscribed by the Nigerian government as a terrorist group, reportedly conducted violent attacks in the Southeast.

Nigeria is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Program.  The U.S. Mission to Nigeria coordinated with the Nigerian military through the Nigerian Defense Intelligence Agency’s Joint Intelligence Fusion Center, the Geospatial Intelligence Directorate Analysis Center, and the Nigeria Defense Intelligence College.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  ISIS-WA and BH carried out hundreds of attacks in Nigeria using small arms, captured military equipment, IEDs, ambushes, and kidnappings.  The following list details a small sample:

  • On March 28, suspected terrorists attacked a passenger train on the Abuja-Kaduna route of the state-run Nigeria Railway Corporation.  News reports said eight persons were killed in the attack and 62 were kidnapped, though some suspect the number was far higher.  All kidnap victims were eventually released, many after their families paid ransom.
  • On May 29, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for an IED attack on a bar in Kabba, Kogi State.
  • On June 5, a large group of assailants attacked the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Ondo State in southwest Nigeria and killed more than 40 people, including children.  Some gunmen entered the church disguised as congregants, while others surrounded the church outside.  ISIS-WA was widely believed to have been behind the attack, though it has never claimed responsibility.
  • On July 5, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for an armed attack on Kuje Medium Security Prison, located 27 miles from Embassy Abuja and 14 miles from Abuja’s international airport.  The prison housed about 1,000 inmates, including more than 60 known terrorists.  Once inside the prison, the attackers opened all the holding cells and released hundreds of prisoners.
  • On July 28, gunmen believed to be ISIS-WA conducted an attack on the Abuja-Niger highway, Suleja, Niger State, near Zuma Rock, about 18 miles from Abuja.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act of 2022 repealed the Terrorism Act of 2011 and the Terrorism (Amendment) Act of 2013 and established a National Terrorism Coordination Center.

The Office of the National Security Advisor is responsible for coordinating all security and enforcement agencies, including the Department of State Security (DSS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), the Ministry of Justice, and Nigeria Police Force (NPF), which has a Counterterrorism Unit and Terrorist Investigation Branch.  Border security responsibilities are shared among the NPF, DSS, NSCDC, Customs, Immigration, and the Nigerian military.  Coordination among agencies remained limited.

The Nigerian government continued to participate in U.S. capacity building programs and to work with the FBI to investigate specific terrorism matters, predominantly through the DSS.  The Nigerian government has cooperated with the United States and other international partners to prevent further acts of terrorism in Nigeria.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Nigeria is a member of the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).  Its FIU, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group.  Nigeria’s November GIABA follow-up report noted that the country had made significant progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its 2021 mutual evaluation.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism:  There were no updates in 2022.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Nigeria continued high-level participation in regional security and counterterrorism conferences.  Nigeria participated in several counterterrorism training sessions sponsored by the United Nations.  Nigeria is a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and co-chairs the GCTF’s Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group with Italy.  Nigeria also is an International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law Board member.

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