Suspected members of the Islamic States West Africa Province (ISWAP) have attacked Garin Giwa village in Kukawa LGA, Borno and killed at least 10 soldiers, according to media reports citing military sources. Many soldiers were also said to have sustained injuries in the attack, which happened 2 September. Two gun trucks were reportedly taken from the troops who were on a routine patrol when their convoy came under attack. An unnamed source told The Cable that the troops engaged the terrorists in an encounter that lasted for about 30 minutes. The 10 soldiers that died in the encounter are members of the special forces. The wounded soldiers have been taken to Mile 4, while those killed have been transported back to Maiduguri. Despite repeated claims of defeating the sect, insurgents have continued to launch attacks across the north-east. In another security development, federal agencies have been placed on red alert following reports that the Boko Haram insurgents were plotting to attack Abuja. Defence Headquarters explained that the Armed Forces and other security agencies would ensure effective surveillance of the Federal Capital Territory and other states of the country. A security report from the Nigeria Customs Service had indicated that members of the Boko Haram terrorists group have flooded the FCT and were planning to carry out coordinated attacks on five identified locations. The service listed Kunyam Bush along airport road off DIA Staff Quarters, Abuja; Robochi/Gwagwalada Forest; Kwaku forest, Kuje, Abuja; Unaisha forest in Toto Local Government of Nasarawa and Gegu forest, close to Idu town in Kogi, as some of the areas where the terrorists were reported to have set up their camps. But defence spokesman, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on 6 September said preventive and preemptive intelligence was ongoing to thwart the plot.

In his closing remarks at the end of a two-day ministerial performance review retreat at the presidential villa, Abuja, President Buhari revealed that US President, Donald Trump accused him of killing Christians when the pair met at the White House in April 2018. Buhari said he told his American counterpart that the problem between herders and farmers is not religious but cultural. Buhari applauded the first republic leadership, accusing subsequent administrations of not handling herder-farmer crisis properly. “The first republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle routes where they used meagre resources then to put earth dams, windmills, even sanitary department,” he said. “So, any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm is arrested, taken before the court, the farmer is called to submit his bill and if he can’t pay, the cattle are sold, but subsequent leaders, VVIPs (very very important persons) they encroached on the cattle routes, they took over the cattle rearing areas. So, I tried and explained to him, this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing that the respective leadership was failing the nation.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria has frozen the bank accounts of 38 Nigerian companies including that of Adebutu Kessington, Nigerian billionaire known as Baba Ijebu. The decision comes months after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission launched an investigation into the activities of Adebutu for alleged tax fraud and economic sabotage. The development is even as the scarcity of dollars at the parallel market during the week forced the naira down to N465 against a US dollar. The CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Bello Hassan, in a statement, asked banks to place the accounts of the 38 companies on Post-No-Debit (PND) order. Premium Times had reported that Segun, one of Adebutu’s children and other management officials of Premier Lotto were detained in January at the EFCC office in Lagos. The officials of the commission had said the investigation was as a result of a petition submitted by Western Lotto, another betting company run by late Buruji Kashamu. The probe might be expanded to include other betting companies and investigate claims of sharp practices and how some firms allegedly withhold funds from winning customers as the country is presently facing one of its biggest dollar crunch in recent years with the impact hurting critical sectors of the economy.

A farmer organisation has said that floods washed away at least two million tons of rice in Nigeria, the second-largest importer of the grain. This indicates more than 25% of the previously projected national output of 8 million tons. In Kebbi for instance, at least 450,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) were said to have been destroyed, according to Mohammed Sahabi, the state chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria. Kebbi is the country’s main rice-growing state. Planters had targeted a 2.5 million ton contribution to the national basket, but will now meet less than 20% of that. Farmers in five other states — Kano, Nigeria, Enugu, Jigawa and Nasarawa — also reported damage. The farmers had forecasted flooding this year but didn’t expect that the damage will be this extensive, Sahabi said. They are looking at only 500,000 tons of harvest, he added. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had reported that nearly 50 people died in Nigerian floods this year as torrential rains caused the country’s two main rivers to overflow. The agency had warned that at least 28 of the 36 states were at risk of flooding due to heavy rainfall. Other crops such as sorghum, millet and corn were also affected. Nigeria’s rice production was about 6.7 million tons in the last three years, with imports seen declining by 200,000 tons in 2020 from 1.2 million tons last year as price-sensitive consumers switched to local staples, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Commentary

  • The Boko Haram Insurgency is in its 11th year and has been on for more than half of Nigeria’s current democratic iteration. Attacks of the nature of the past two weeks continue to occur and it almost appears that the public has become numb to them – they are, in effect, now part of our reality. But this must not be so. Northern leaders have called on the President to make changes to the leadership of the armed forces as insecurity escalates in the region. The President needs to heed this call. While a military victory will not fully resolve the Boko Haram insurgency, it is integral to any plans to end the insurgency in the North East. A full generation of children have entered adulthood with insurgency as the only reality they’ve known their entire adult life. The latest attack by ISWAP came about two weeks after a previous attack on same Kukawa town with a huge variance in claims on the attack: while various sources say that the terrorists had abducted hundreds of recent returnees to the town from IDP camps, the military claimed that it had thwarted the attack and killed eight of the terrorists. It is hard to ascertain these claims but it does appear that ISWAP is consolidating its hold on Kukawa which sits on the shores of Lake Chad, where it has enjoyed an entrenched presence that stretches all the way to islands on the lake. It seems that the control of the fish trade in the area is a huge motivator as it provides revenue support for the terrorist organisation. Speaking of revenue, the claim by the Customs Service that Boko Haram was making plans to attack five locations between the FCT, Kogi and Nasarawa was curious. It bears noting that this bit of news is coming from Customs, which should be concerned with regulating imports into and exports out of Nigeria, rather than the DSS or the military which have more core counter-terrorism functions. This suggests a lack of proper information sharing and coordination among the security agencies which if not checked, could lead to an unnecessary turf war by the various agencies. Nonetheless, the different agencies have been spurred into action in order to forestall what could be the first attack in the capital by Boko Haram since 2015. Overall, it seems that between a tired military lacking equipment, motivation and ideas and a terrorist group without the capacity to overrun the military and assert control over a substantial amount of territory – there is nothing that can be done to break the deadlock and end Nigeria’s most intractable conflict since its independence.
  • It is important to note that the position of President Trump on the crisis indicates the success of a lobbying effort that has sold the narrative of a Christian genocide to the White House. However, since that meeting, no action has been taken by the Trump administration, lending credence to the belief that his statement was done more to appeal to his evangelical supporters than provide any form of concrete policy advice. While President Buhari is correct that the issue is not religious, he misses the point in that religion is a part of the culture. His comments reveal not just the fact that his meeting with President Trump in April 2018 had not gone well – contrary to his media team’s efforts to refute stories that Mr Trump had called him lifeless – but that his approach to solving the recurring clashes between farmers and herders is still rooted in 1960s thinking despite the fact that the underlying conditions have changed. Contrary to his claims that leaders after 1966 and VVIPs encroached on cattle grazing routes, the reality is that it is the rapid population growth that Nigeria experienced since that time, combined with the gradual loss of grazing land in the far north due to a combination of overgrazing and climate change, that have led to the intensification of resource clashes that play out through ethnic and religious themes. Ultimately, the President seems to believe that the solution to this intractable problem is a return to the old grazing routes. This is not feasible considering present population pressures and the need for land for farming by communities which lie through the grazing routes used to pass through. In many cases, however, the clashes happen on farms that are clearly the ancestral land of the farmers and were never designated cattle routes, indicative of the mindset which these marauding elements within the large pastoralist body embody. This explains other approaches such as “ruga” settlements where the FG proposed building settlements for cattle herders, an idea that was fiercely resisted by states in the Middle Belt and the South. These approaches are still focused on commandeering private land or giving public land for the use of herders who are into commercial animal rearing. A more long-lasting approach to ending the competition over resources between farmers and herders will be to encourage the establishment of ranches by herders using incentives such as cheap loans for the purpose, and state governments providing land. No one, herder or farmer, should resort to violence to further their cause. That is the core point, and as bodies pile up, this should be the priority of the President.
  • We fundamentally disagree with a situation where a regulator is able to deny citizens, whether individual or corporate, access to their property without due process sanctioned by a court of law. A process which fundamentally lacks judicial supervision is subject to arbitrary abuse and can be used as a tool to cow the people. There have been no indictments, no ongoing court processes or even announcements of investigations which have necessitated this order to freeze these accounts, yet the CBN has unilaterally crippled the largest players in a thriving industry over very blanket claims, without any specific details available in the public domain. This cannot be how regulatory oversight is run. There has to be a predictable, less arbitrary, less discretionary and less disruptive way of carrying out regulation, and the primary player that needs to learn this is the CBN.
  • While RIFAN has announced numbers that did not withstand scrutiny in the recent past, we have reason to believe that these numbers are credible this time. Rice has already touched all-time high prices across the country due to ongoing government policies such as an import ban and a border closure. Environmental factors will only exacerbate an already terrible situation. The heavy rainfall and resulting floods had been predicted by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and are almost reminiscent of the 2012 floods which affected about 20 states. The floods are sure to have a direct impact on Nigeria’s food security ambitions as well as the food self-sufficiency objective of the Buhari administration – a policy move which has led him to impose high tariffs on rice importation, restrict forex access at official rates for the import of rice and maize and a border closure ostensibly to stop smuggling which also affects the legal importation of food and other items. Food security is not measured by how much food a country produces, but by how much food its people are able to affordably consume, plus how diverse and flexible its food sources are. The result of the Buhari government’s policies has been a spike in food prices and rising inflation. Even without the floods, food prices would have stayed high at the very least as the goal of meeting demand solely with local production was far off; but the floods make a tough job even tougher. The government should not wait until external circumstances force them to reverse policies that are clearly inimical to the food security of the Nigerian people.