In March 2024, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) issued a report on insecurity in the South East. The roots of insecurity described in the report could apply to almost anywhere in Nigeria and indeed insecurity and a violent state response has in recent years spread across most of the country with the associated vigilantes mainly hired by state governors and other rich people.

The key issue that may not be emphasised enough in the report is the dire and all-pervading poverty. The South East geo-political zone may have the lowest rate of poverty after the South West. But still almost half the population are multi-dimensionally poor. As in the rest of Nigeria, it is this deep and all pervasive poverty and inequality that has to be addressed as the underlying cause of the rising insecurity. All other responses are, and will, fail unless this underlying poverty is not fundamentally addressed.

Appealing to the corrupt and violent state that has greatly benefitted its leading members will not lead to success. It is only the potential collective power of the trade union movement that has the means and the will to change the situation.

The Executive Summary of this report is reproduced below and the full report is available for free download at the end:

South East Nigeria faces a dire predicament. Violence and crime plague the region,
fuelled by a complex web of issues: pro-Biafra insurgency, gun proliferation, criminal politics by a corrupt political class, cultism and occultism, and a history of law enforcement

These internal problems are compounded by external factors: state-sponsored vigilantes, misappropriated funds, political-crime links, and rampant online misinformation. Armed groups thrive in this climate, extorting money, intimidating the population, and hindering progress.

The region’s political landscape is equally concerning. Elections are routinely rigged, silencing dissent and denying millions their voices. Instead of democratic competition, political violence reigns, with gangs clashing for control. This violence has cost hundreds of lives, sacrificing young people on the altar of political ambition.

But the consequences go beyond stolen elections. Mismanaged resources and squandered potential rob the people of their future. Internally generated revenue and natural resources, meant for development and basic needs like healthcare and education, are instead pilfered and wasted. This rampant corruption leaves communities mired in poverty, suffocated by the greed of those in power.

The 2023 elections offered no respite, sinking to new depths of depravity. Politicians, emboldened by impunity, openly armed and recruited gangs to terrorise opponents and citizens alike. These gangs, emboldened by their role in rigging the polls, further spread violence and insecurity across the region.

The cost of this unchecked gangsterism is staggering. Scores, including women and children, have been killed or injured in gang clashes. Yet, no one has been held accountable, leaving victims and families to grapple with trauma and loss without justice.

Impunity also pervades the criminal justice system. Basic rights are routinely disregarded, particularly towards those associated with pro-Biafra groups. Torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings are commonplace, with estimates suggesting over 2,000 people executed or disappeared since 2015.

The economic toll of this insecurity is severe. Capital flight, business closures, and skilled worker emigration cripple the regional economy. “Sit-at home” protests championed by factions of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in cahoots with elements of organised crime further amplify the decline, pushing it to its lowest point. Combating crime and insurgency is the most pressing task facing the region. Dismantling criminal organisations, severing their political connections, and tackling the root causes of poverty and suffering are crucial steps. Additionally, addressing the issue of misinformation that attributes all crimes to insurgency¬†is¬†vital.

Download the pdf here:


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