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Intel Brief: Nigeria’s food security struggles

Date: 22/03/2024

Who’s involved:

  • Nigerian government, insurgents and gangs, herder and farmer communities

What happened?

  • On 03/03/2024, hundreds of people looted a government warehouse in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, followed by thousands of Nigerians rallying against soaring living costs on 05/03/2024. Nigeria's emergency agency responded by strengthening security at its warehouses.

  • On 27/02/2024, protests broke out following the nationwide demonstrations organized by labor unions to voice their opposition to economic problems. 

  • On 23/02/2024, several individuals were fatally trampled outside the Lagos customs office as a result of a stampede occurring because of the sale of discounted bags of rice. The customs agency stated that the disbursement of the rice bags was a strategy of the government "to address the critical problem of food scarcity".

  • On 07/03/2024, at least 287 school children were kidnapped by militant insurgents in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna State. Earlier that week, on 03/03/2024, at least 50 people were kidnapped from a camp for internally displaced persons in northeastern Nigeria, followed by another kidnapping of at least 15 pupils from a school on 09/03/2024. In this region, Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) operate frequently. 

  • On 14/03/2024, sixteen Nigerian soldiers were killed in Delta state while on an operation to stop fighting between the Okuama and Okoloba communities over land dispute. There are often violent confrontations over land disputes, fishing rights, or demands for compensation due to oil spills.

  • On 17/03/2024, Nigerian soldiers attacked the Okuoma community after President Tinubu labeled the 14 March attack as “a direct assault on the nation”, prompting a response. While searching for those accountable for the killings of 14 March, the soldiers plundered communities and set fire to houses. 


  • Over the last couple of weeks, Nigeria has experienced several attacks on grain storage sites, following a spike in living costs and a 30% increase in the food inflation rate. In 2023, President Tinubu made efforts to remodel the economy and removed long-standing fuel subsidies, claiming that this would reduce Nigeria’s debt. This was a widely unpopular move as it caused soaring inflation, especially for food. The deepening economic crisis is likely to worsen existing security concerns in Nigeria as crime, armed groups, and corruption rise in the country. 

  • Armed groups have targeted vital sources of income for the country in recent years. Theft and vandalism of pipelines in the Niger Delta have led to insecurity in the region, a drop in oil production, and international underinvestment in the sector. The energy infrastructure in the south remains vulnerable to attacks as long as socio-economic issues persist. 

  • Confrontations between nomadic (Muslim) herders and native (Christian) farmers stemming from disputes over land, have resulted in recent clashes with fatal outcomes. Farmers are also regularly forced by gangs to abandon their fields or pay extortion fees to access their own land. These factors impact food production, resulting in food shortages and increasing prices

  • In the north of Nigeria, Islamist insurgents and criminal gangs regularly stage large-scale kidnappings and frequent attacks on villagers and travelers. In some cases, huge sums of money have been transferred to the criminal parties, enabling them to acquire more weapons and recruit adherents. Kidnappings and attacks will persist and increase, given the lucrative nature of the crime.


The lack of affordable food is prompting looting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and demonstrates how the country’s deepening economic crisis is having major security implications for its population. The World Bank has declared that Nigeria is experiencing ‘crisis food security’ levels, due to the persistent insecurity and armed conflict. Given that the government is sticking to its policy of cutting fuel subsidies, further raiding of warehouses, protests and discontent is likely to spread to urban centers


20240321 Intel Brief Nigeria
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