Politics of Security Sector Reform: Violence and the Emergence of Regional Security Outfits in Nigeria


  • Onyekachi E. Nnabuihe
  • Kelvin Ashindorbe
  • Samuel Osagie Odobo Odobo




A growing deterioration of the security situation in Nigeria is provoking debate about the subsisting federalized but ineffective policing structure. The general deterioration of security is also manifesting in the growth of regional outfits that have emerged to fill the security gap created by a weak and centralized security arrangement. While there is a plethora of literature discussing security governance in Nigeria—with an emphasis on reforms—emergent regional security outfits receive marginal attention. Relying on oral interviews with security experts, including personnel of Amotekun and Ebube Agu, datasets from Nigeria Watch, and relevant secondary sources, this article interrogates the interplay of insecurity, the imperative of security sector reforms (SSR), and suspicion generated by the emergence of vigilante and regional security outfits. The study concludes that Nigeria’s over-centralized security framework has created a vacuum in security provisioning, necessitating the emergence of alternative security outfits. The polemics surrounding the emergence of parallel security organizations underscores the need for SSR. It is nudging the country towards devolution of security functions to the subnational governments.