A Fragile and Complex Nation

The Situation

Nigeria rarely makes international headlines. It is frequently eclipsed by stories of turmoil in the Middle East, human rights abuse in North Korea, or religious persecution in places like Pakistan and Burma. 

Yet among the world’s next truly horrific conflagration has been forming in Nigeria.

Two of the world’s top five deadliest terror networks — Boko Haram and Fulani extremists — operate with great intensity within Nigeria and are the largest among 35 other such groups/networks.

  • Terrorism has caused more civilian deaths in Nigeria than war-torn Syria or Pakistan has experienced.
  • Terrorism and ethno-religious violence within Nigeria have produced nearly 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) — whole villages have been decimated.
  • Nigeria has the second highest number of refugees (upwards of 19,000 individuals) pouring into Europe from the Mediterranean Sea since January 2017.

Even with these statistics, the Nigerian government has been distracted by efforts to fully institutionalize democracy and reform its petroleum-dependent economy. Policy surrounding Fulani extremism in the Middle Belt is following similar patterns shown in the response to Boko Haram. 

Little has been done to address the escalating violence along ethnic and religious fault lines. The result is a state lacking a swift and consistent response to Fulani extremism and Boko Haram: they deny there is a problem, they misdiagnose the issues, and they violate human rights through poorly executed military strategy, rather than using appropriate police, judicial, and other justice institutions. Given these dynamics, violence and disruption continue throughout Nigeria.

Terrorism. Religious Persecution. Basic Human Rights.