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Responsibility to protect: external intervention on Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria


The lingering Boko Haram terrorism deserves investigation to determine whether external intervention is needed under the principle of responsibility to protect. In the application of responsibility to protect, the principal challenges have been how to respond, when to respond, and who has the authority to initiate response, especially when the protection of people at risk falls outside one’s territory. The possible application of the principle in conflict situations, as argued by many authors, is hindered by the concept of national sovereignty. Given the seeming inability of the Nigerian government to curb terrorism, here we raised the questions: should the international community intervene, what approach should be adopted, and how can the intervention be conducted without compromising Nigeria’s sovereignty? Using a qualitative methodology and the collection of primary data through documentary evidence, we highlight the failure of the Nigerian government to protect the people of Northeast Nigeria from Boko Haram and suggest that external intervention has become necessary.

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Fig. 1

Source: Skinner and Begum (2016)


  1. 1.

    The six Northeast states of Nigeria are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Taraba and Yobe.

  2. 2.

    Dasukigate is an illegal deal uncovered by the presidential investigations committee in 2015. The committee report showed an extra-budgetary spending of about $2.2 billion disbursed into the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in procurement of arms to fight Boko Haram but was not spent for that purpose. Some persons connected to deal are under detention including Col. Sambo Dasuki Rtd, the then National Security Adviser.


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This research was supported by the Philosophical faculty, University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.

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Correspondence to Kingsley Emeka Ezemenaka.

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Ekumaoko, C.E., Ezemenaka, K.E. Responsibility to protect: external intervention on Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria. Secur J (2020).

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  • Responsibility to protect
  • Boko Haram
  • Conflict
  • Government
  • Ethnic cleansing