Nigerian authorities warn of overwhelming bandit attacks

Tuesday February 14 2023
Nigerien soldiers patroling a road between Diffa and Bosso

Nigerien soldiers patroling on a road between Diffa and Bosso. The Nigerian defence minister on Tuesday said the country's military is being overwhelmed by bandit attacks and other security issues. PHOTO | ISSOUF SANOGO | AFP


Nigerian authorities have warned that the country’s defence is being overwhelmed by daily bandit attacks and other security threats.

On Monday, officials announced they had arrested 492 rogue vessels belonging to illegal merchants in some parts of the country. But this relative success could be at the cost of fatigue as the security forces have been kept busy in nearly all the 36 states of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Gen (Rtd) Bashir Magashi, said the Nigeria Armed Forces are overburdened due to inadequate manpower and numerous security challenges facing the nation. 

“Adequate manpower is paramount for any military forces to perform effectively,” he said in Abuja at the 25th Edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) Scorecard Series organised to highlight the Nigerian government’s achievements. 

Excessive demands

Magashi said one of the challenges his ministry faced was the excessive demands being made on the military in spite of its inadequate manpower. 


“As of 2022, Nigeria, with an estimated population of about 220 million people, has a total military strength of about 223,000 personnel. This gives an approximate ratio of military personnel to population to be 1 to 11,000. This is lower than those of Nigeria’s neighbors except for Niger Republic,” he said in a statement. 

Besides fighting terrorists in northeast Nigeria since 2009, the military has also been tasked with the clearance of bandits in North Central and Northwest. In addition, they have been battling secessionist militias in the southeast. Furthermore, the military is mandated to keep guard of the country’s borders and together with the police, ensure preparations for the upcoming elections are intact.

Destruction of oil pipelines

The military has also been performing the job of the police in the south where criminals are engaged in oil bunkering and destruction of pipelines. 

The minister stressed the need to enhance the capacity of the police and other para-military agencies to enable them to discharge their primary responsibility of internal security. 

The minister said that Nigeria also needs consistent recruitment of about 12,000 soldiers bi-annually to enhance the capabilities of the military to meet the security challenges of the country. 

According to data, bandits have been responsible for more than 8,340 deaths since 2020, kidnapped more than 12,220 persons including children and women and destroyed infrastructure including attacks on rails, electricity and telecommunication facilities.