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Nigeria’s security problems deepen as Anglophone insurgency in Cameroon spills across border

Augustine Aboh, University of Massachusetts, The Conversation on

Published in News & Features

The attack in Belegete in December left two dead, including the traditional leader, Chief Francis Ogweshi, and 20 others kidnapped.

As Cameroon’s clash with separatists worsens in southwestern Cameroon, the Ambazonian insurgents have moved into Nigeria.

The violent attack on the Belegete community, which followed earlier incursions in Nigeria such as the Manga village attack of November 2021, suggests a growing cross-border element to Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis.

As well as presenting a violation of territorial integrity, the incident also suggests collaboration with Nigeria’s own secessionist groups, with evidence of links between Ambazonian secessionists and the Indigenous People of Biafra.

Ambazonian insurgents are also engaged in drugs, arms and human trafficking and have brought that illegal trade across the border into Nigeria.

The incursion of Ambazonian activities has not only added to Nigeria’s security challenges. It has also intensified an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s border region, displacing thousands of people and straining the capacity of authorities to care for its internally displaced persons and refugees from neighboring countries, including Cameroon.

 

As of June 2023, Nigeria has an estimated 2.3 million internally displaced persons and 93,130 refugees and asylum seekers. The Belegete attack added to this by displacing the entire village of over 2,000 people, who took refuge in the neighboring village of Becheve.

Nigeria’s capacity to confront the emerging Ambazonian threat is questionable, given multiple strategic, operational and tactical limitations.

The 2022 Afrobarometer working paper, which mapped states’ capacity to prepare for or respond to security threats, concludes that Nigeria – like several African states – “is widely seen to lack the necessary capacity for the physical and material security of its citizens or to command legitimacy.”

The Ambazonian separatist insurgency poses a threat not only to Cameroon and Nigeria but risks further degrading the security situation in West Africa.

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