West Africa and Maghreb Security Brief


Pressure on Nigerian president to correct electoral process; two explosions in Nigeria; call for greater anti-drug legislation; drug-bust and more than 270kg seized; Spanish foreign minister visits Mauritania to assess situation of kidnapped aid workers; increased construction of guard posts along borders of Mauritania; American troops train Malian forces in the fight against terror.


Instability in Nigeria:

  • Unity Forum has urged President Jonathan to back the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). If Nigeria fails to correct its electoral processes, democracy, peace, stability, and security will be in danger, according to the Forum, which has observed that there are few governmental means to revive public confidence in free and fair elections in 2011. [i]

  • Two explosions occurred in Yenagoa in the southern state of Bavelsa, Nigeria the night of June 2. One of the explosions occurred in the residence of the Bavelsa’s deputy governor, Peremobowei Ebebi, and the second in a hotel owned by one of Ebebi’s loyalists. None were wounded in the explosions and the investigation for the perpetrators is ongoing.[ii]

Drug-Trafficking in Nigeria:

  • The Kebbi State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Nigeria has called for the state to pass more legislation prohibiting the use of drugs. The leader of the NDLEA seeks to prevent the use of drugs through anti-drug campaigns. Governor Usman Dakingari stated that the government would demand for new laws.[iii]

  • The NDLEA has arrested more than 75 suspects and seized approximately 270kg of drugs in Kano, Nigeria. The new state commander of the NDLEA Haruna Kutishe said that drugs are a major societal problem in Nigeria and there needs to be greater action on this front.[iv]

Anti-Militant Efforts in Mauritania:

  • Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos visited Nouakchott on June 6. The aim of his visit was to discuss the situation of aid workers Albert Vilalta and Roque Pascual who AQIM took hostage on November 29, 2009. According to AFP, Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar (also known as Belawar) is most likely holding the two Spanish men.[v]

  • Guard posts for security forces along Mauritania’s borders have increased in number in recent weeks. Currently there are 45 border posts, which use computer technology to track foreigners, erected in order to combat AQIM, illegal immigration, and narcotics and weapons trafficking. The government aims to “recover the northern border” with Western Sahara and Algeria and to establish a city to the east near the border with Mali. However, president of the Mauritanian Human Rights Association Fatimata M’Baye fears that issues of security will override the struggle for democracy.[vi]

Anti-Militant Efforts in Mali:

  • More than 200 U.S. troops have trained Malian troops to combat AQIM in recent days through Operation Flintlock. Intelligence officers continue to believe that Al Qaeda members are joining with drug traffickers to smuggle cocaine through Africa into Europe. There is also the possibility that a non-aggression pact exists between AQIM and Mali and that AQIM receives financial support from traffickers so that they may pass through the region unharmed.[vii]

[ii] “Nigeria: Two Separate Bomb Explosions Reported in Jonathan’s Home State, Bayelsa,” EMNNews Online via The Associated Foreign Press (World Service), June 3, 2010, http://emnnews.com/breaking_news/explosion-in-bayelsa-state-rekindle-new-fear-of-militants-attacks/.
[iv] “Nigeria: Drug Abuse Rate Soars in Kano,” FRCN Kaduna, June 2, 2010, Available at World News Connection.
[v] “Spain working hard to free aid workers abducted in Mauritania – minister,” El Mundo, June 7, 2010, http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/06/06/espana/1275852161.html.
[vi] Mandraud, Isabelle, “Mauritania Erects Border Posts to Thwart Al-Qa’ida,” Le Monde, June 4, 2010, http://www.lemonde.fr/cgi-bin/ACHATS/acheter.cgi?offre=ARCHIVES&type_item=ART_ARCH_30J&objet_id=1125561.
[vii] De Montesquiou, Alfred, “Al-Qaida offshoot grows in the desert,” The Associated Press, June 6, 2010, http://www.nexis.com.
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