Muhammad Mansur is a Senior Associate Fellow at the Conflict Studies And Analysis Project at the Global Initiative For Civil Stabilisation(GICS).

Fulan Nasrullah is a national security policy adviser, and the Director of the Conflict Studies and Analysis Project at GICS.

While Conflict Studies And Analysis Project content may contain primary source material, it does not contain information of an official or otherwise classified nature, neither does it represent the official position of any government, organisation, agency or group.

Security Situation

Kaduna State in Northwest Nigeria faces destabilising long term threats to public safety and state security, which have the potential to further destabilise the rest of Nigeria.

Author/Paper Point Of View

The author is a national security policy and strategy advisor with experience in information operations, human intelligence collection, insurgent tactics, and counter insurgency strategy design and implementation in multiple operational theatres.

This article is written with the assumption that the political will exists to develop the institutional capacity at the sub-national level to stabilise and secure Kaduna over the long term in a sustainable manner.


Kaduna in recent times has become notorious for the rate at which its hitherto stable security outlook has declined. Herders-Farmers conflict and inter-communal violence in various forms in the southern part of the state came to a head in 2015-2016, before giving way to a rapid breakdown of security along the 200 km long Abuja-Kaduna Highway as kidnap gangs, armed robbers and rural bandits began interdicting travellers and haulers using that road to shuttle between the two cities and points beyond[1].

While kidnapping and banditry along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway has adversely affected the economy of the state, the greater death toll has come from the explosion of armed rural bandit and militia groups in the Birnin Gwari-Kamuku-Kwambiana Forest Area, leading to to multiple villages sacked and a sizable number of local residents either killed or displaced.

Within Kaduna City and the surrounding metropolitan area, violent crime including organised mob actions by armed gangs such as Yan Sara Suka/Sulhu, Ba Sulhu/Yan Shara etc. These gangs terrorise innocent passers-by, and cripple commercial activities when they enter into districts and neighbourhoods in the city to violently attack residents or engage in inter-gang warfare.[2]

Significance: A large part of Northern Nigeria’s industrial capacity lies in Kaduna State, specifically in Kaduna Metropolitan Area, in addition the state is a leading agricultural producer in the country. Also Kaduna State lies in the middle of transit/logistic routes connecting Northwest Nigeria and Southeast/Niger-Delta regions, and the Northwest and North Central parts of the country. A large amount of goods including agricultural goods, and passenger traffic between these regions flows through Kaduna State. Thus continuous destabilisation of the state has enormous negative consequences for the national economy.

Option #1: Develop and pursue a strategy of training, arming, and deploying local actors to maintain a strong security cordon in violent conflict and crime prone areas. Establish  Urban Civil Protection Groups in the two major cities of Kaduna State,  Kaduna City and Zaria. These two organisations will have armed and unarmed civil protection officers. Armed civil protection officers will be carefully vetted before recruitment and will be rigorously trained to a high standard in firearms safety. Unarmed urban civil protection officers will be equipped with batons. Unarmed civil protection officers will maintain constant foot patrols through all streets and alleys within their respective organisation’s jurisdiction. Establish a special State Highway Protection Agency which will be tasked with securing the major highways (and rural communities bordering them) running through the state. The State Highway Protection Officers will be armed and trained properly in the use of firearms. Create and have special operations units of the Nigerian Army train and lead  Self Defence Groups in towns and villages affected by attacks by militias operating in the Birnin Gwari axis.

Risks:  If such community oriented civil defence and community security programmes are not properly organised, resourced, overseen, the risk of small arms proliferation exists significantly. As Nigeria is a federal state with the Federal Government retaining monopoly over policing and internal security de jure, political opposition at the Federal level will likely dog this option. Federal internal security and law enforcement bodies irrespective of their negligible spare capacity to handle these situations will likely fight against such programmes.

Gains: With local actors taking the lead on securing their communities and making up the muscle doing the work, better intelligence and more dedication to flushing out malign elements and stabilising the area is to be expected. The work load on already overstretched federal military and security resources will be greatly reduced as lower level problems such as the situation in Kaduna State can be taken care of by state-level actors, freeing up the military’s and federal police’s resources to focus on higher level challenges.

Option #2: Expand to the maximum, the commitment of military and federal security resources to Kaduna State for a set time. This will involve the Army increasing the amount of boots on the ground to track down and eliminate armed militias operating in the Kamuku-Birnin Gwari area. The Nigerian Air Force will have to increase the amount of aerial assets it commits to surveillance of the terrain in the Birnin Gwari area, in addition to providing close air support for Army units conducting clearance operations on the ground. Within the urban areas tackling violent criminal gangs, the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the State Security Service, will have to beef up resources in the state, and implement a plan to see them aggressively identify, find, and remove from the streets, the leadership and members of these armed gangs, eliminating their safe havens, and disarming them.

Risks: With extremely limited resources, and budgetary constraints, along with competing national security priorities in the Northeast and Niger-Delta, diverting assets and personnel to the Kaduna area to aggressively stabilise the state and eliminate malignant actors terrorising the civilian population, especially for the military services, may weaken tremendously, the forces fighting against Boko Haram/ISWAP in the Northeast.

Gains: There is significantly less risk of small arms proliferation. Political opposition will be marginal at best as the Federal Government’s monopoly de jure on security and defence will not be challenged in any way.

Other Comments: none

Recommendations: none


End Notes:

[1] PM News. “Again 37 Passengers Abducted Along Abuja-Kaduna Highway”. Published June 1, 2018. Retrieved from:

Again, 37 passengers abducted along Kaduna-Abuja highway

[2] Muhammad Lere. “Hundreds Of Youth Attack, Rob Kaduna Residents”. Premium Times Nigeria. Published December 16, 2017. Retrieved from:

Hundreds of youth attack, rob Kaduna residents



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