Non State Actors and Internal Security Management in Nigeria: The Case of Vigilante Groups

  • Emeka C. Iloh
  • Michael E. Nwokedi


The chapter examines the role of non-state security actors in internal security management in Nigeria, with a focus on the role of vigilante groups. First, the chapter argues that security of lives and property is the most important role of the state and that this is the main reason people had to give up some of their natural rights to the state in order for the state to give them protection. The Nigerian state does this through the military and the police force: the military for containing external aggression and the police for maintaining law and order internally. However, the changing nature of criminality in the country has made effective maintenance of law and order very difficult for state security actors. In an effort to address this lacuna, therefore, communities have resorted to self-help initiatives to cope with the growing challenges of insecurity and criminality in their communities, and these self-help initiatives, in the form of non-state actors, have increasingly bridged the vacuum created by the inability of formal security institutions to ensure the safety of citizens and their property. These self-help initiatives or non-state policing measures are in the form of vigilante groups. This chapter, therefore, argues that despite arguments to the contrary, vigilante groups should be seen as complementing the work of state security agencies instead of being seen as an indictment that the state security actors have failed in their constitutional responsibilities of securing lives and property in the country. It, therefore, contributes to the existing body of literature that advocates for the retention and strengthening of the capacity of vigilante groups as part of the efforts towards effective internal security management in Nigeria. The study basically adopted desk research, relying mainly on the documentary method of generating data. As such, secondary data/information were essentially utilized. Also, authors’ personal observations of the workings of these groups in communities where they operate were also a veritable source of data. Content analysis, based on systematic logical deductions, was used to analyse data.


Non-state security actors Vigilante groups State security agencies and security management 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emeka C. Iloh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael E. Nwokedi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Madonna UniversityOkija CampusNigeria
  2. 2.University of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

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