Douglas Chidi Ndidigwe (PhD), Hilary Idiege Adie (PhD)


The state exists to ensure good governance and security of its citizens and hermonopoly of the use of force and as such, the use of force by any other group or individuals is an aberration. Thus, the paper interrogated whether the emergence of violent non-state actors negates the principle of sovereignty or is an indication of state failure. While previous studies focused generally on the conflicts and insecurity associated with the groups against the state and the people, this paper conceptualized the Boko Haram, armed bandits, violent herders, etc as violent non-state actors in Nigeria.  It is on this conceptual premise that this paper ascertainedwhy they are referred to as violentnon-state actors in Nigeria. On whether their emergence is as a result of state failure or an attempt by the groups to challenge the sovereignty of the Nigerian state? It was observed that the state failed to control of the security situations in various locations in Nigeria there-by allowing the VNSAs to leverage on the lapses. Data were scooped from documentary source and the analysis was based on textual/content analysis. The theory of sovereignty provided the theoretical base so as to conceptualize the sovereign powers of the Nigerian state over the use of force.  The paper conceptualized the essence of the state, the sovereign powers of the state, the emergence of the violent non-state actors in Nigeria, their operations and the implications for Nigeria’s sovereign powers. Again the paper observed that the activities of these VNSAs have indicated that the state is complacent and have compromised on her statutory functions, as such it could be tagged a fragile state.  It is on this basis that the paper concludes that these violent non-state actors have somewhat challenged the sovereignty of Nigerian state, as such their emergence is antithetical to the ideological metaphor of the theory of sovereignty. The paper therefore recommended, inter alia, that the state should provide good governance to the people, so that what led to violence and insurrections would have been nipped in the bud.


State, violence, Non-state, actors, conflict, security and crime

Full Text:



Africa Programme (2014). Nigeria’s interminable insurgency! Addressing the Boko Haram cisis. Chatham House.

Akume, A.T. and Godswill, J. (2016).The challenge of managing insurgency in Nigeria (2009-2015),Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 7(1), 145-154.

Awuku, R. (2015). “Trends in International Terrorism: Strategies for combating them in Africa: Research project submitted at National War College, Abuja.

Bartolotta, C. (2011). Terrorism in Nigeria: The rise of Boko Haram. Retrieved from

Bodin, Jean (1962). “The six books of a commonwealth”. Trans. Richard Knolles: Ed. Kenneth Douglas McRae. Cambridge: Harvard University press.

Buchanan-Clarke, S and Lekalake, R. (2016). Violent extremism in Africa: Public opinion from the Sahel, Lake Chad, and the Horn. Afro-barometer policy paper No. 32/ June.

Burton, J. (1990). Conflict: Resolution and Prevention. Vol.1. London: Macmillan.

Callamard, A. (2019). Ps:// UN News.

Egbue, N.G; Nwankwo, I.U. & Alichie, B.O. (2015). Curbing Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in Nigeria: Imperatives of quadruple action package of limited military responses improved social services, conflict resolution initiatives and modified pacifism, British Journal of Arts and Social sciences, 20(!), pp. 13-29.

Ezigbo, O. (2020). ‘Bandits now move in the north from house to house with AK47”, This Day live retrieved 11/26/2020

Falana, F. (2021). “Buhari, you brought crises on Nigeria with your lopsided Appointments, failure to curb killer Herdsmen”. Available at

Gallagher, J. (2014). Low-Intensity Conflict, Harrisburg: Stackpole Books.

Holsti, K.J (1996).The state war and the state of war, (Cambridge University Press).

International Crisis Group (2017). Herders against farmers: Nigeria’s expanding deadly conflict. Available at [accessed 21 July 2018].

International Crisis Group Report (2020). “Violence in Nigeria’s Northwest: Rolling Back the Mayhem”, 288.

Jarvis, L.and Holland, J. (2014). Security: A Critical Introduction. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ndidigwe, D.C. (2016). Nigeria-U.S Cooperation and Management of Insurgency in Nigeria, 2010-2015. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation submitted to University of Calabar Graduate School, Calabar.

Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (2017), Security and Governance. Nigeria: NSR

Obene, W.R. (2012). Home grown terrorism: An emerging challenge to Nigeria’s national security. Presentation to Haske Biyu 2012 Participant at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna.

Ochoga, E.O (2016) “Terrorism in Africa: A search for Collaborative Strategy”. In Shishi and Ochoga E.O (eds), Readings in International Relations. Makurdi: Ugo Press

Okolie, A. Nnamani, K.E (2017). “Fulani Herdsmen Militancy, Environmental Security and Sustainability of Livelihood in Nigeria” Contemporary Nigerian Political Economy: Governance, Security and Development; Studies in Politics and Society Vol5, No1, December.

Olufowobi, S.; Adetayo, O. and Aluko, O. (2018). Army admits withdrawing troops before girls abduction. Punch, 27 February. Available at,[accessed 23 July 2018].

Omemma, D.A. (2017). “Security Challenges and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria: An Exploration” Contemporary Nigerian Political Economy: Governance, Security and Development. Studies in Politics and Society, Vol. 5, No1, December

Perkins, A. (2014). 200 girls are missing in Nigeria-so why doesn’t anybody care? The Guardian, 23 April

Ronfeldt, D. (2007). “In search of how societies work: Tribes- The first and forever form”. RAND Working Papers, available at

Soyinka, W. {2021). “Buhari keeps calm when Benue is attacked but evokes civil war memories when South East is involved”. Available at

The Sun (17 February 2018). Yari accuses security agencies of complicity in Zamfara massacre.

Vanguard (8 January 2018). Benue killings: FG, security agencies’ve abandoned us-Ortom.

Varrella, S. (2021). Terrorism in Nigeria: Statistics and Facts. Security, Crime and Law Enforcement, February 24

Wakili, T.H. and Idris, H. (2014), Borno Governor must produce abducted girls- Dame Patience. Daily Trust, 4 May.

Wall, C. (2015) Boko Haram is History: Radical Islam in Nigeria. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from

Weber, M. (2015), Weber’s Rationalism and Modern society, Translated and edited by Tony Waters and Dagner Waters: New York: Palgrave Books, pp.129-198.

Williams, P. (2008). “Violent Non-state Actors and National and International Security” International Relations and Security Network (ISN).


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Douglas Chidi Ndidigwe (PhD), Hilary Idiege Adie (PhD)










ISSN (PRINT):    2682 - 6135

ISSN (ONLINE): 2682 - 6127





Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.