Militias in Nigeria “emboldened” amid Post-elections Leadership Gap: Catholic Peace Entity

Credit: DHPI

Militia groups are on a killing spree in Nigeria following the country’s just-ended elections that have left a power vacuum in the country, the Catholic foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), has said.

In a report shared with ACI Africa, DHPI reports about intensified attacks in various “hotspots” in the West African nation, noting that incidences of kidnappings, killings and destruction of property have especially escalated in the aftermath of the February 25 disputed presidential poll in which Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner.

“It is clear that since Nigeria’s elections held on 25 February, violence has escalated across the country’s various hotspots and pressure points,” DHPI Director, Johan Viljoen, says in the Monday, March 20 report. 

Mr. Viljoen adds, “The violence and intimidation that many communities had been subjected to has not only intensified but now, with the gap in leadership until Tinubu is sworn in as president, vigilantes, herdsmen, and hoodlums feel emboldened to attack innocents.”

Six communities in Nigeria’s Benue State have been victims of reported recent attacks by armed herdsmen. 


The latest communities attacked by the armed Fulani herdsmen are Kwande, Agatu, Gwer West, Guma, Makurdi and Logo Local Government Areas. 

The chairman of the Association of Local Government in Nigeria, Mike Uba, told journalists that the attacks had escalated in the aftermath of the country’s February 25 elections.

“This is the first time in the history of herders and terrorist attacks in the state that six local governments would be under attack simultaneously. These are Huma, Makurdi, Gwer-West, Kwande, Agatu, and some forays in Logo,” Mr. Uba said.

“In the past, attacks would be in two or three; Guma, Gwer-West and Agatu. The new dimension speaks volumes about command room coordination and strategy. This is a strategic attempt timed to coincide with the electoral season,” Mr. Uba added, and appealed to both the outgoing and incoming presidents to ensure that there is heightened protection of lives and property in the State.

Earlier, reports indicated that at least 36 people were killed in Kaduna and Katsina States in a span of weeks. 

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The Vanguard reported on March 13 that while gunmen killed 17 persons in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Southern Kaduna State, about 19 villagers were killed and 15 others injured during a  clash between vigilantes and terrorists in Kankara communities, Katsina State.

Reports about the attack in Katsina indicate that hoodlums were attending a wedding party of a well-known local kingpin, Mai Katifa Mutuwa, when a bloody clash ensued between the hoodlums and local vigilantes. 

According to Mr. Viljoen, the attack in Katsina seems to have been “a perfect smokescreen for wanton violence.”

“How does a clash at a wedding turn into a rampage, into surrounding villages and killings and displacements randomly?” the DHPI Director wondered in the report he shared with ACI Africa, adding that the attack in Katsina “does not seem to be random.”

Meanwhile, the official of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has warned that the continuing displacement of people in Benue State, in what is part of what he has described as “a gathering storm” is causing the explosion in the IDP population in the Nigerian State.


He warns that the IDP influx in Benue will inevitably cause another layer of tension, and explains, “While fighting off attacks by herdsmen, the IDPs and the local population will soon also find themselves at odds over the allocation of resources.”

“As always, we see the official state response as slow; the security personnel is slow to respond and seemingly unable to bring to book the perpetrators of these acts of violence,” Mr. Viljoen says.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.