Hassan Mahmoud Mohammed, PhD

Department of Political Science

Gombe State University, Gombe, Nigeria.


Internal security has widely been explained within the context of the protection of state values as enshrined in varied state laws. It entails the defense of critical human and infrastructural assets of the state, the maintenance of the territorial integrity as well as the protection of the lives and properties of citizens from every possible threats. This paper examines the nature of contemporary human security threats to Nigeria’s internal security and also explores its implication for the general security of the Nigerian state. Within this scope, Nigeria has had many challenges that have all conspired to threaten its corporate national security and also become a major stumbling block to the realization of a conflict-free and safe Nigeria for all its citizens and residents alike. The paper identifies some of these potent threats in the last decade and a half as violent conflicts and crimes that are social, political, economic and ideological in nature which have given rise to a general atmosphere of insecurity within the Nigerian state. The multiplier effect of these threats have resulted in an upsurge of inter-communal clashes, insurgency, terrorism, proliferation of ethnic militias, oil theft, piracy and banditry which are also particularly potent threats to national security. The paper argues that the Nigerian state is in great danger of losing its nationality, unity and development if the current military-centered approach is not reviewed in order to systematically check and address these threats. It concluded by advocating for a synergy between the citizens of the state and the internal security agencies to curb this dangerous trend by the use of modern technology and intelligence.

Keywords: State, Security, internal security, threats, strategies

The Concept and Background of Internal Security In Nigeria

The concept of internal security may be applied to the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other territories that are self-governing. This peace is maintained by generally upholding the national laws of the states concerned and defending the territory of the state against any form of internal security threats. This responsibility may also rest on the shoulders of the police or the para-military forces within the state, or in very exceptional situations, the military may be required to compliment the efforts of the internal security agencies.

The major threats to may range from low-level civil disorder, large scale violence, or even an armed insurgency. These threats may be directed at either the citizens of the state, or the organs and infrastructure of state itself. It may range from petty crime, serious organized crime, political, social or industrial unrest, or even domestic terrorism. At other times, foreign powers may also act as a threat to the internal security of another state by either committing or sponsoring terrorism or rebellion, without necessarily declaring a state of war (Mamdami. 2004, 66).

 In Nigeria, the major threats to internal security over the last decade and half is terrorism which is accentuated by violent extremist ideologies, separatist and nationalistic agitations, proliferation of ethnic militias, kidnapping of people for ransom and armed robbery which are at times orchestrated by trans-border criminal networks. The perennial agrarian/pastoralist farmers’ crises is another particularly potent threat to Nigeria’s internal security because of its tendency to trigger ethnic and religious interpretation. Other threats to Nigeria’s internal security include cattle rustling and banditry, religious, inter-ethnic and intra-communal crises, economic sabotage reflected in oil theft and piracy, disruption, arson and vandalism of vital national assets, murder and cultism-related violence, cyber crime, political violence, especially election-related, and corruption, money laundering, electoral fraud, trafficking in persons, drug dealings and arms racketeering, and fraud that exacerbate poverty and inequality which further constitute the motives for crimes and threats to internal security.

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