For the second year running, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states have emerged as the most violent in the Niger Delta region in 2019 based on the number of reported conflict fatalities,
According to the Annual Conflict Report released by the Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta for the year 2019, there was increase in conflict risk and lethal violence in the region in 2019 compared to the trend in 2018.
Available data, according to the report, revealed that in the overall, the most reported incidents of violence related to criminality (including piracy, abductions, robberies, and killing for ritualistic purposes) which totalled 260 incidents resulted into 444 fatalities.
This was followed by gang/cultists supremacy clashes with 272 fatalities in 78 reported incidents, report revealed.
“Gang violence was reported in all the states in the region, but it was more prevalent in Rivers, Edo, and Delta.”
Giving further breakdown of the nature of conflicts and their consequences, the foundation noted that communal/ethnic tensions was the third highest conflict issue in the region during the year, resulting in 197 fatalities in 77 reported incidents.
These incidents included land disputes, farmer/herder conflicts, and ethnic separatist agitation, it said.
Political and election violence also caused over 100 fatalities during the period, especially in Rivers, Delta, and Bayelsa states.
In the run-up to and during the 2019 general elections, political tension was elevated in the Niger Delta.
In February, for instance, 56 fatalities were reported in the region during the general elections.
The hotspots of conflict in the region remained largely unchanged in 2019 compared to 2018.
Ten local governments in six states were identified in the report as the most violent in the year 2019.
“The most violent local government areas in 2019 were Khana (Rivers), Oredo (Edo), Obio/Akpor (Rivers), Yenagoa (Bayelsa), Odukpani (Cross River), Mbo (Akwa Ibom), Emohua (Rivers), Ethiope East (Delta), Port Harcourt (Rivers), and Oyigbo (Rivers), respectively.”
According to findings in the report, April was the most violent month during the year with a total of 150 reported fatalities.
In one incident in April, for instance, eight people were reportedly killed during clashes between rival cult groups in Rumuolumeni community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State.
“Separately, in April, 10 people were reportedly killed during a clash over a land dispute between some communities in Obubra Local Government Area, Cross River State and a neighbouring community in Ikwo Local Government Area, Ebonyi State.”
The Niger Delta of Nigeria is highly diverse with over 40 ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages and dialects.
The region comprises 185 out of the 774 local government areas and covers nine out of the 36 states of Nigeria.