Dissertation Abstracts

Military internal security operations in Plateau State, North Central Nigeria: Ameliorating or exacerbating insecurity?

Author: Sallek Y Musa, justsallek@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Supervisor: Prof. Lindy Heinecken
Year of completion: 2018
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: civil-military relations , militarisation , violence , internal security
Areas of Research: Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution , Deviance and Social Control , Human Rights and Global Justice


The primary responsibility of a state is the protection of its citizens against external aggression and internal violence and disturbances. Conventionally, the latter is normally the duty of the police. However, in Nigeria as in many African states, as violence erupts and the security situation worsens, government often relies on deploying the military to enforce orderliness and the return of peace. This action is largely due to the inability of the police to contain violent conflicts, especially where the security of the citizenry is threatened by armed groups. This is the situation in Plateau State, Nigeria where the military is used for military internal security operations since violence broke out between Christians and Muslims in Jos, on 7 September 2001. Several studies have indicated support for the use of the military as a ‘necessary evil’ to enforce ceasefires and ensure the return to peace. However, this study finds that using the military evokes several challenges which undermine both the legitimacy of the military mission and its professional image. Along with this is the concern that the conduct of soldiers adds to worsen the security situation of the citizenry, which in turn strains civil-military relations (CMR). Two factors were identified as responsible for the problems: a lack of military professionalism, and the cultural disposition of soldiers in terms of the unsuitability of military habitus with civilian values. Whereas the problems could be addressed with effective civil control of the military, the study argues that civil control is weak in Nigeria, despite the existence of a legal framework that could ensure this. To understand the problem, the study reviewed the separation, integration, agency, and concordance theories, and it argues that they are limited in scope and application. As such, they are unable to fully explain CMR in Nigeria. In this regard, a quadrumvirate interaction theory which upholds aspects of concordance theory explanation of CMR was proposed to fill the void. The theory contends that CMR is a tripartite relationship, with interactions among the partners occurring as a quadrumvirate along a major intersecting level and three different sub-units. The theory introduced a typology indicating that the citizenry can exert agency in CMR in four different ways: compliance, contestation, collaboration, and confrontation against demands, policies, actions or inaction of the other partners. The aim of the study was to understand whether the Nigerian State is exercising adequate civil control of the military to ensure that it does not become a threat to the citizenry and exacerbate insecurity. 55 one-on-one interviews with civilians across different social categories were conducted in six local government areas in Plateau State to understand this. The study found that the military acts unprofessionally and soldiers abuse of civilians is a recurring phenomenon, hence civilians are dissatisfied with the military. This has affected CMR, and civilians are exerting their agency including using confrontation that has resulted to the killing of some personnel, because they see the military as exacerbating insecurity.