Overview: Boko Haram (BH) and ISIS-West Africa continued to carry out killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in thousands of deaths, injuries, and significant destruction of property in 2016. The states where attacks occurred most frequently were in Nigeria's northeast, particularly Adamawa and Borno. In March 2015, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of BH, pledged his allegiance to ISIS, rebranding the group as the Islamic State in West Africa. In August 2016, ISIS announced Abu Musab al-Barnawi was the new leader of its West Africa branch. This claim was denied by Shekau, however, resulting in the split of the branch into two distinct groups.

The Nigerian government took steps to increase its counter-Boko Haram efforts. Nigeria continued to work with other Boko Haram-affected neighbors in the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) that facilitated collaboration and coordination on counter-Boko Haram efforts. Despite gains made by the MNJTF, much of its reported progress was merely duplication of failed efforts carried over from the end of the last dry/fighting season. The Nigerian military was unable to hold and re-build civilian structures and institutions in those areas it had cleared. Most of the remaining students abducted by BH in Chibok remained in captivity, although one girl was found in Borno, and the Government of Nigeria successfully negotiated the release of 21 of the kidnapping victims.

Terrorist activity accounted for the displacement of nearly two million persons in the states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe. The Nigerian government continued to facilitate the return of internally displaced persons to their home communities, although sometimes without providing adequate security and before appropriate conditions were in place for safe, informed, voluntary returns. There was no evidence in 2016 of the implementation of a coordinated plan to restore civilian security in recaptured territories. In partnership with international donors, the Nigerian government set up several institutions to coordinate the reconstruction of areas destroyed by the conflict in the northeast.

An Interdisciplinary Assistance Team (IDAT) comprising personnel from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) , and the U.S. Agency for International Development continued to work from the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, closely coordinating efforts with the Nigerian military at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Daily military-to-military engagement at the Joint Combined Fusion Cell and the Joint Coordination Planning Committee led to a more detailed understanding of Nigerian military operations and established relationships with mid- and senior-level officers.

2016 Terrorist Incidents: BH carried out dozens of attacks in Nigeria through suicide bombings against civilians or attacks against Nigerian military. Some of the more notable attacks included:

  • On January 28, six male and female suicide bombers detonated explosives in Chibok, killing 16 people. While other attacks this year may have resulted in greater casualties, the number of bombers made this attack significant.

  • On January 30, BH attacked Dalori with three female suicide bombers and dozens of conventional attackers. At least 85 people were killed.

  • On February 9, two female suicide bombers detonated explosives at the Dikwa camp. At least 58 people were killed and 78 people were injured.

  • On September 20, a military convoy was attacked in the town of Malam Fatori, Borno State, killing 40 people and injuring dozens.

  • On October 16, a Nigerian Army battalion located in Gashagar Village, northern Borno, was attacked by BH members who overran the army position. At least 24 soldiers were reported as missing in action, and have not been reported as found. Several of the army's vehicles were reportedly destroyed or recovered by BH.

  • On December 9, two female suicide bombers detonated themselves in a market in Madagali Village, Adamawa State. Nigerian military officials reported 30 people dead and 68 people wounded. Open source news reported up to 57 people dead and 177 people wounded.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Nigerian government's criminal justice institutions were not significantly strengthened in 2016, although several donor countries, including the United Kingdom, continued to work closely with the Ministry of Justice to assist in prioritizing how to investigate and prosecute suspected terrorism cases.

While the Nigerian military had primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the northeast, several government agencies performed counterterrorism functions, including the Department of State Security (DSS), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), and the Ministry of Justice. Counterterrorism activities of these agencies and ministry were ostensibly coordinated by the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA). The level of interagency cooperation and information sharing was limited and at times hindered overall effectiveness.

The Nigerian government participated in U.S. counterterrorism capacity-building programs under the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, including the training of NPF members in explosive ordnance disposal, explosive incident countermeasures, and preventing attacks on soft targets. The NPF also stood up the Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response, which is a specialized selection and training program for local police dedicated to the security of the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions throughout Abuja. The Nigerian government worked with the FBI to investigate specific terrorism matters, predominantly through the DSS, and provided improvised explosive device components to the FBI for analysis at the Terrorist Device Analysis Center. ONSA, DSS, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, and NPF explosive ordnance and post blast personnel worked with FBI special agents and special agent bomb-technicians in-country. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and NPF also received crime scene training relevant to counterterrorism investigations.

Border security responsibilities are shared among NPF, DSS, Customs, Immigration, and the military. Coordination among agencies was limited. Cooperation and information sharing in the northeast increased between Immigration and the Nigerian Army. Nigerian implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2199 (2015) was limited as the Buhari administration has made limited progress against corruption. Through the ATA program, Nigerian police, customs officials, and immigration officers also participated in interagency "Rural Border Patrol Operations" courses to build the law enforcement sector's ability to effectively use all agencies to tackle rural border security challenges.

The Nigerian government actively cooperated with the United States and other international partners to prevent further acts of terrorism in Nigeria against U.S. citizens, citizens of third countries, and Nigerian citizens. Nigerian law enforcement agencies cooperated with the U.S. FBI to assist with counterterrorism investigations, including disruptions, information sharing, and interviews.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Nigeria is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Nigeria made limited progress towards the passage of several pieces of legislation intended to address strategic deficiencies in the country's anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regime. Although passed by the Nigerian National Assembly, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Centre (NFIC) Bill, which seeks to provide the FIC with operational independence and autonomy, and the Proceeds of Crime Bill had not been signed into law by the end of 2016.

The DSS is the primary investigating agency for terrorism cases, but there have been longstanding sustained concerns about its capacity to investigate terrorist financing as it does not share case information with other agencies that also have the mandate to conduct terrorist financing investigations and prosecutions, such as the EFCC. These concerns continued in 2016. There were no known efforts on the part of the EFCC or the Ministry of Justice to prosecute terrorist financing cases.

The Government of Nigeria has the ability to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets as required by the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime. While there is political will to freeze assets, bureaucratic processes occasionally cause delays. The Nigerian government routinely distributes the UNSC lists of designated terrorists or terrorist entities to financial institutions.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm

Countering Violent Extremism: The Nigerian government's National Counter Terrorism Center, located within the ONSA, updated the National Security Strategy to include strengthening countering violent extremism (CVE) capabilities of state and local governments in the northeast. The government began training staff in Gombe State for a defector reintegration program, Operation Safe Corridor.

In an effort to better equip local communities with the means to prevent and counter violent extremism, Nigeria agreed to serve as an initial pilot country for the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF). GCERF requires beneficiary countries to establish a multi-stakeholder "country support mechanism" that brings together government agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector to enable communities to develop localized CVE responses. CVE efforts continued to be hindered by impunity for the security forces' harsh treatment of civilians, lack of trust between security services and communities, and lack of economic opportunities in the northeast.

International and Regional Cooperation: In 2016, Nigeria continued high-level participation in regional security and counterterrorism conferences, including President Buhari's participation in the 26th Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government, held in Ethiopia, and the Second Regional Security Meeting in Abuja, hosted by Nigeria and attended by French and British heads of state, as well as regional leaders from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. President Buhari participated in the Third Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa. Nigeria sought greater cooperation and coordination with neighboring countries to counter the effects of BH, yet has resisted taking control of the regional response. Nigeria is also a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and is a part of the Security Governance Initiative between the United States and six African partners, , first announced in 2014, which offers a comprehensive approach to improving security sector governance and capacity to address threats.

Nigeria is one of the founding members of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Primarily through the presidency, Nigeria took a leading role in continuing a multilateral dialogue between countries in the region – including through GCTF and TSCTP activities – on how better to coordinate regional efforts to confront networks of terrorist groups that cross national borders. Nigeria also agreed to serve as a pilot country for the Global Counterterrorism Forum-endorsed International Counterterrorism/CVE Clearinghouse Mechanism, which is being developed as a means to help countries and donors optimize civilian counterterrorism and CVE capacity-building programs.

The Nigerian government has not invested significant resources or time enlisting regional organizations, such as the Economic Organization of West African States and Economic Community of Central African States, to assist with the BH problem. Instead, the Government of Nigeria preferred to engage BH militants in direct, unilateral military action and through the MNJTF, which is headed by a Nigerian military officer.


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