Countering Violent Extremism in the North East Nigeria

Violent extremism refers to the beliefs and actions of people who support or use ideologically motivated violence to achieve radical ideological, religious or political views.

Violent extremism can be exhibited along a range of issues, including politics, religion and gender relations. No society, religious community, or world views, is immune to violent extremism.

Countering violent extremism is a body of initiatives intended to put an end to the process of radicalization, recruitment, and mobilization of people (youth) for violence and terror related acts. It is aimed at providing methods to empower communities and build their resilience to extremism.

In many countries where the scourge of violent extremism has eaten deep, sustainable peace and development become a mirage. For examples, in Nigeria particularly the north where I’m come from has been ravaged by Boko Haram, Shiites and other Islamic fundamentalist group. The southern region also is not left out to the terror of Niger Delta Militants resulting to several deaths and destruction.


There is no single profile or pathway for radicalization or even speed at which it happens. Nor does the level of education seem to be a reliable predictor of vulnerability to radicalization. However there are socio-economic, psychological and institutional factors that lead to violent extremism.

1. RELIGIOUS DISTORTION: the role region in the spread of violent extremism be over emphasized. People have been cajoled and deceived by fanatic religious leaders and group to take up arms as a way of performing the will of God.

2. UNEMPLOYMENT: is one of the major threat to societal peace and security in the increase of violent extremism. There is a saying that says “ An idle mind is the devil workshop” a hustlers always thinks of adding value to his/her life rather than engaging in violent related activities. Unemployment makes especially the youths vulnerable and can be easily brain washed and mobilized for violent extremism.

3. FRAGILE STATES: the fragility of the state has resulted to lack of rule of law , criminality, corruption, sudden drop out from school and conflict with school, sudden break up with family and long-standing friendship, change in attitudes and behavior towards others, antisocial comments, rejection of authority, refusal to interact socially, sign of withdrawal and isolation. Regular viewing internet that and participation in social media networks that condone radical or extremist views.


1. UNDERSTAND AND COMMUNICATE THE LOCAL CONTEXT: violent extremis is global and interrelated but the reasons differs. understanding this differences and context are the key to developing sustainable responses and approach is to present radicalization, undergoing local-level research can help in designing interventions that are impactful and grounded in an understanding of local realities.

2. JUST LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SECURITY RESPONSES ARE CRUCIAL:violent extremism groups often seek to provoke overreaction by states with the expectation that repressive responses will add to the justification for their violence and galvanise recruitment. In Nigeria we need capacity to deliver a measured and proportionate law enforcement and security response to attacks and any ongoing threats by violent extremists. Heavy-handed tactics, extra-legal and special measures, especially those that infringe the civil right and liberties. UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE (USIP) has trained hundreds of police officers, judges, border official from conflict prone countries around the democratic policies and the rule of law.

3. FOCUS ON YOUTHS EMPOWERING AND ENABLING CIVIL SOCIETY/COMMUNITY: early prevention of violent extremism and radicalization is not achievable by the government and security services alone communities leaders and families, youths groups, are best positioned to identify early those at risk of radicalization and helping them move in a different direction by promoting values of peace and respect of diversity and non-violence. The grievances that fueled violence are often generated by the absence of social, peers and family support, as well as lack of skills or ability to identify and develop non-violent, practical solutions to these problems. To pursue peace we need to galvanize the communities E.G, civil society leaders to jointly address the increasing treats of Boko Haram, Shiite in our communities.

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United States Institute of Peace (USIP) ‘The causes and consequences of violent extremism and role of foreign assistance’ published 12th April, 2016.

Nigerian Youth 4 Peace Initiative ‘countering violent extremism in Nigeria’ Published 14th Nov, 2016.