Spreading Nigerian violence draws military to policing role

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It’s a common scene along Nigeria’s main roads – barriers stopping cars, machine-gunners poised behind sandbags and stern-looking soldiers checking vehicle trunks and scrutinizing the faces of passengers. While soldiers held power for 29 years and have always played an internal security role in Nigeria, their deployment has surged since former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in 2015. Operating in all 36 states, they’re dealing with a range of crises: Islamist militant attacks in the northeast, simmering unrest in the oil-producing Niger River delta, conflict between crop farmers and herders and widespread robberies and kidnapping. “The increasing deployment of military forces for internal security operations across the country underscores the profoundly dysfunctional state of Nigeria’s public safety institutions, particularly the ineffectiveness of the police force,” said Nnamdi Obasi, West Africa analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.