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The harrowing abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in 2014 shocked the world. The number of children kidnapped, as well as the ease with which Boko Haram carried out its attack, was striking and sparked international outrage. Yet, a recent wave of mass school abductions makes the Chibok girls’ experience less of an anomaly. In the past three months, more than 800 children have been taken in mass abductions at four boarding schools in northwest Nigeria, far from Boko Haram’s territory in the northeast. The new culprits? Bandits.

Populations in northwest Nigeria are facing the ever increasing threat of banditry, a type of organized crime that includes kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, rape, cattle-rustling, and the exploitation of environmental resources. Armed banditry has become a central security challenge to Nigeria’s northwest that has terrorized communities, killed and displaced thousands, hindered socio-economic development, and threatened democratic governance. 

Origins and Driving Factors

In 2011 northwest Nigeria experienced a surge in bandit attacks between the nomadic Fulani herders and sedentary Hausa farming communities. Environmental and ecological changes caused land and water to become valuable commodities, sparking fierce, and often violent, competition over resources. Over the past decade banditry has evolved from a communal rivalry into lethal militia groups. 

Recently, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity. This has threatened national security and has prompted huge allocation of the national budget to security (Achumba and Akpor 2013).  The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria specifically states that “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Unfortunately, government on this constitutional responsibility has failed to provide a secured and safe environment for lives, properties and the conduct of business and economic activities.

The alarming level of insecurity in Nigeria has increased the crime rate and terrorists attacks in different parts of the country, leaving unpalatable consequences for the nation’s economy and business growth. In order to ameliorate the incidence of crime, the federal government has embarked on criminalization of terrorism by passing the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011. Despite the government efforts, the level of insecurity in the country is still high, and a confirmation of this is the low ranking of Nigeria in the Global Peace Index (GPI, 2012).

Security challenges can be traced to the early years of military rule when large quantities of arms were imported into the country for the use of the military during and after the Nigerian civil war, some of which got into the hand of the civilians. Soon after the civil war these arms were used by civilians and ex-military men for mischievous purposes such as armed robbery, (Olabanji and  Ese 2014). The 1999 constitutions make provisions for the rights of citizens.

The inability of government to provide a secure and safe environment for lives, properties and the conduct of business and economic activities has led to resentment and disaffection among business investors. This has resulted in communal clashes, and religious violence and crime in different parts of the country that has destroyed lives and properties, disrupted businesses and economic activities, and retarded economic growth and development in Nigeria. No business investors whether local or foreign t will be motivated to invest in an unsafe and insecure environment. In a globalized world investors are not only looking for high returns on their investments but also safe environment for their investments.

Thus the alarming level of insecurity in Nigeria has made the economy unattractive to foreign investors and has slowed down the level of business activities, and this has impacted negatively on economic growth and development. Consequently the purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of insecurity on business activities.


To understand the security challenges in Northern Nigeria, its causes, effects and solutions

Overview of the Subject

Apart from the scourge of kidnapping Nigeria has become a fertile ground for

dare devil robbers and all sorts of criminalities. There is no evidence to show that all security measures put on ground by Nigeria government has shown any appreciable drop in the incidents of armed robbery. Rather, it would seem armed robbery is on the increase. The situation is such that virtually every Nigerian now lives inside highly walled fences and barricaded compound, a sort of self imposed prison yard. In its 2008 report, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said armed robbery cases were more pronounced in seven states in the country. The figures which the NBS said were based on cases reported to the police in 2007 identified the crime-prone states as Oyo, Imo, Rivers, Kano, Ogun, cross River and the FCT. The breakdown of armed robbery cases showed that in 2009, Oyo state had 244 cases; Imo (176); FCT (172); Rivers (145), Cross River

(137) Kano (108) Ogun (107) Anambra (96) Adamawa (96) Abia (89) Akwa Ibom (88) ekiti (85)

Edo (79) Lagos (70) while each of Gombe, Benue, Plateau, Kwara, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kebbi and

Yobe states had less than 28 cases. Robbers have remained like the nation’s albatross. Unfortunately, security agencies, especially that police that are responsible for internal security often seem helpless in the face of increasing crime wave in the country.

Kidnapping: though kidnapping started in the oil-rich Niger Delta area when it was used

a tool to address the wanton neglect of their communities by successive administration, it has since grown to become the new multimillion naira business now thriving outside the region. As Nwankwo (2012), noted, for the south-east, kidnapping is now a tool for settling personal and political scores. Besides, the pecuniary gains accruing from the ransom collected from the families of victims, usually in huge millions of naira, many desperate politicians in Igbo land are now using kidnapping as a tool of vendetta on perceived political enemies. Kidnapping has made Nigerians to live in perpetual fear. Even in the northern parts of the country where the wave of kidnapping is not rampant, living has continually slipped to the Hobession state of nature where life is brutish, nasty and short.

Boko Haram: is a religious Islamic sect that came into the limelight in 2002 when the

presence of the radical Islamic sect was first reported in Kanama (Yobe state) and also in Gwoza (Borno state) Nwanegbo and Odigbo (2013). “Boko Haram,” which in the local Hausa language means “Western education is forbidden,” officially calls itself “Jama‟atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda‟wati wal Jihad,” which means “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet‟s teachings and jihad”(Meehan and Speier 2011). The Boko Haram is a controversial Nigerian Militant Islamist group that seeks the imposition of Sharia law in the northern states of Nigeria. Ideologically, the group opposes not only western education, but western culture and modern science (Dunia, 2010). The activities of the Boko Haram group constitute serious security challenges in the contemporary Nigerian state. The activities of members of this group have raised critical questions among investors on the safety of their investments in Nigeria. It has also threatened the existence and survival of many businesses in Nigeria especially in the northern part of the country. This ranges from killing of innocent Nigerians, raping of women, bombing of major cities and police stations in the northern part of Nigeria, particularly, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Niger, Yobe, Adamawa, Abuja, among others (Nwagboso 2012)

Terrorism: Terrorism is a global phenomenon and it is ravaging the whole world. It has been defined by Sampson and Onuoha (2011) as “the premeditated use or threat of use of violence by an individual or group to cause fear, destruction or death, especially against unarmed targets, property or infrastructure in a state, intended to compel those in authority to respond to the demands and expectations of the individual or group behind such violent acts‟.

Hired Assassins: Another big security challenges facing Nigeria today is the rampart cases of hired assassins. Many Nigerians including law-abiding citizens continue to be cut down by bullets from either the guns of the assassins, or the armed robberies and occasionally from the ransom-seeking kidnapers. Although these heinous crimes carry capital punishment in the nations various laws and statues, the situation continues to deteriorate as a result of the helplessness of the law enforcement agents to bring the perpetrators of these dastardly acts to book. The Nigeria government has failed in their basic responsibility to the citizens to protect lives and property.


There is high level of insecurity in the country, particularly, in the Northern zone where ‘Boko Haram’ has become a threat to business activities. No investor will be willing to invest where his investment is not secured. Many companies and businesses in the Northern part of the country have stopped operation due to “Boko Haram” scourge. The cost of life and material resources lost to insecurity in the country since the past few years is unquantifiable. The frequent occurrence of bomb explosions, orchestrated by the acclaimed religious extremists in the northern part of the country, has assumed a worrisome dimension. An estimated number of about 2,000 lives have been lost to bomb explosion from 2010 till date. According to security information released by Crime Guard, a security monitoring group, between March and December 2012, there were a total of 153 successful explosions in the country which claimed several lives and properties and led to closure of many businesses in the country. As a result of insecurity in the country many businesses and companies in their numbers are closing down operations in the north and relocating to other African countries for fear of loss of lives and properties. And the few remaining companies operate on skeletal bases. Insecurity in the country not only affects foreign direct investment and business activities, it also affects business confidence as many companies lost confidence in establishing businesses in some parts of the country.


Banditry has become an appealing method of income in northwest Nigeria where weak governance, youth unemployment, poverty, and inequality have left people with depleted options for livelihood. Security services are often understaffed and lack the proper resources to effectively combat banditry. Vast areas of unregulated forests allow for easy concealment, and police and military forces have difficulty penetrating the rough terrain. In addition, under-policed borders have aided the proliferation of small arms and light weapons amongst bandit groups.

The rise of banditry and armed attacks has severely disrupted means of livelihood and the distribution of essential services for people across the northwest region. Since 2011, nearly 200,000 people have fled bandit violence and remain internally displaced within the northwest region. Approximately 77,000 Nigerians have fled to neighboring countries, and humanitarian efforts to respond to emergencies in Nigeria as well as crises in neighboring Sahel and Lake Chad are overstretched. The majority of those displaced do not receive organized assistance and are in desperate need of basic necessities. 

The Jihadist terrorist organization, Boko Haram, aims to expand its base beyond northeast Nigeria and has begun forming alliances with bandit groups in the northeast. Boko Haram faction leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the mass abduction of over 300 school boys in Kankara, though bandits were likely responsible for the attack and may have transferred some of the kidnapped schoolboys to Boko Haram in return for money or weapons. This concerning alliance between violent extremist and criminal groups has escalated security problems and expanded the capabilities of non-state actors across the country. 

Informal security actors such as vigilantes have played an increasing role in protecting their communities from bandit groups. Vigilante groups are often preferred over the police because official security agencies are often unavailable when rural communities most need them. Although these informal security providers play essential roles in providing safety and security to their communities, many lack proper security training and often compete against each other. In addition, many vigilante groups have committed human rights abuses, armed robbery, corruption, and extortion against bandits and members of the communities they vow to protect.

Nigerian security forces have utilized a variety of tactics over the years to combat banditry. Initially, the federal government embraced an aggressive approach by deploying police and military operations to the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, and Sokoto. While the security response has pushed back attacks, destroyed hideouts, and killed and arrested hundreds of bandits, attacks have continued. In 2019, a peace deal was secured between the armed bandits and the governors of Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara. The deal encompassed disarmament, the release of kidnapped civilians, and pardoning for the bandits. Although the number of fatalities decreased from August to November due to reconciliation initiatives, attacks picked up again in 2020. 

Though routinely denied, the Nigerian federal and state authorities have often paid ransom to keep victims alive and secure their release. Mass kidnappings have become a major source of income for criminal and extremist groups since Nigerian authorities often pay ransom to keep victims alive and secure their release, but it also provides incentive for bandits to continue their malign activities.


Effective mechanisms must be implemented to mitigate the threat of banditry in Nigeria’s northwest. A peacebuilding process that includes dialogue between security agencies and communities will be crucial to establishing effective policing, early warning, and intelligence gathering. The federal government must increase funding for police and security forces to effectively oversee rural areas, control cross-border arms proliferation, and strengthen intelligence capabilities. In addition, addressing the root problems that often drive people to violence — inequality, poverty, lack of education and job opportunities — is needed to stem the recruitment of youth into bandit groups.

Security challenges  in any environment  constitute threat to  lives and properties,  hampered

business activities, and discourage local and foreign investors, all of which stifle and retards development of a country. It is therefore apparent that national security is a desideratum, sine qua non for business and  economic growth and  development of any country (Oladeji and Folorunso, 2007). The Federal Government (FG) should formulate and effectively implement policies and programmes capable of addressing the root causes of insecurity in Nigeria –such as Ethno- religious conflict, systemic and political corruption, weak security system and unemployment among others. Federal government should establish a more viable and result- oriented agency capable of addressing the problem of abject poverty/ unemployment among large population of Nigerians, this will aid in reducing the level of crime and violence in the country.


Government must be proactive in dealing with security issues and threats, through training, modern methods of intelligence gathering, and intelligence sharing, logistics and deploying advanced technology in managing security challenges. This will add more values in checking incessant bombings, robbery, kidnapping and violent crimes/crises by hoodlums in the country. Federal government should include Security Management in school curriculum at all levels of education in Nigeria. This will enable the Nigerian youths to appreciate the importance of security in a secular state like Nigeria.


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