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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 Political News

Over the past two decades, Nigeria has grappled with multiple and complex national security threats, each posing a significant challenge to its stability.

The nation finds itself fighting a violent militancy in the Niger Delta, conflicts between farmers and herders across multiple regions, terrorism and insurgency in the northeast, banditry in the northwest and secessionist campaigns by groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra in the southeast.

Now a new layer of complexity has emerged in the form of the Ambazonian secessionist group from Cameroon. This group’s growing threat, most recently seen in the December 2023 violent invasion of the Nigerian borderline village of Belegete, adds to the strain on Nigeria’s national security capabilities.

As a scholar specializing in radicalization, violent extremism and counterterrorism in West and Central Africa, I believe the latest threat raises concerns about Nigeria’s strategic preparedness and ability to confront growing challenges.

How the country responds could have far-reaching consequences. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country. Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has played a crucial role in regional stability and security. It remains an important diplomatic partner for the United States, which provides support to the Nigerian government in its efforts to combat extremism in the region.

Ambazonian separatists, seeking independence from the Republic of Cameroon, are mounting a bloody civil war that stems from the Anglophone crisis, a protracted conflict rooted in the colonization of Cameroon by both the French and British governments.

 

Separatists from Camaroon’s two English-speaking regions declared independence from the French-speaking majority in 2017, and war has been raging between the separatists and Cameroon government forces ever since.

The Ambazonian secessionist movement, fueled by grievances that include the perceived dominance of Francophone Cameroonians, seeks to secede and establish an independent Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

Agitation over the past seven years has resulted in violence and widespread human rights violations.

Estimates by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reveal that over 1.7 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Anglophone crisis has resulted in over 6,000 deaths and displaced 765,000 people. About 70,000 of these refugees are in Nigeria, including a few in the village of Belegete.

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