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1.1 Background of the study

The provision of security is an important need of every human in modern societies considering how people easily tend to make life miserable for others or constitute threat to human and national security through acts capable of undermining law and order. However, while some are legal security providers, there are groups that are categorised as illegal security providers whose acts, when not checked, can create insecurity to their targets or victims.

Security remains a basic necessity in the lives of people and states. The phenomenon is prominent in national discourses. Dambazau (2012:15) argues that Nigeria is overwhelmed by the threats posed by all manners of conventional criminal behaviour; militancy and insurgency; transnational crime syndicates involved in human and drug trafficking, advance fee fraud (419), and cybercrime; political violence, including election violence; ethno-religious conflicts, especially in the North, leading to violent deaths and destruction; and resource-based conflicts over land; and the recent security threats from the Islamist sect Boko Haram. Fawole (2008) identifies the perennial problem of religious and ethnicity-fuelled uprisings in the country as internal security threats with profound implications for foreign policy. 

Adequate human security is the prerequisite for developmental projects to take place. Sustainable human development is only achievable when criminal activities which threaten human security are eradicated. As highlighted by the Brundtland of 1987, the essence of sustainable development is to prioritise basic human needs for the present and future generation. But this people-oriented objective cannot be achieved without the actualisation of human security. This makes the development process to protect the opportunities of generations yet unborn (Ajakaiye and Akinbinu, 2000). Mitigating insecurity in all parts of the country should start with actions that address all forms of human security threats. This trend of human insecurity has made the country to be described as one of the most dangerous places in the world with poor rating on the Global Peace Index. Most human security-threatening factors are occasioned by poor management of resources, inadequate planning, selective implementation of policies, poor intelligence gathering and inadequate early response mechanism. 

The sophisticated weapons criminals use indicates that it is possible that some people somewhere are working for the criminals. Their firepower is adjudged superior to that of security agents. The government is yet to realise that most threats to national security originate from ineffective human security. For instance, the Boko Haram imbroglio is a continuing challenge with a political underpinning that has been widely noted by different scholars. The religious colouration notwithstanding, the frustration-aggression perspective cannot be downplayed. The militancy in the Niger Delta, the kidnapping in the Southeast and the ascendancy of the blue-collar crime can have their ancestry traced to the inequitable character of Nigerian politics. Several important figures and arms caches of the movement have been uncovered (Olowu, 2012). Thom-Otuya (2016) avers that the high level of small arms proliferation across the country in the form of arms build up is responsible for the rate of crime, community conflict, crude oil theft, kidnapping, and militancy. The availability of arms, with the associated security cost of pipeline vandalisation, usually leads to the deployment of security forces which creates public sense of insecurity (Aghalino and Okolie-Osemene, 2014). It has also aggravated state fragility. Donais (2017:3) further states that “part of the very essence of state weakness or fragility relates to the inability of governments to exercise effective control over territory, while conflict leads to the further fragmentation of security provision.” Development and security are inextricably linked, and this demands collaboration and coordination between government agencies and the civil populace to make human security achievable in Nigeria. 

1.2 Statement of the problem

Over the past few years, Rivers State recorded unusual incidents of violence and armed banditry stemming from availability of arms in the wrong hands, which culminated in cultism, kidnapping, formation of militant groups and other criminal activities. The various groups that emerged as outlaw security providers have taken advantage of the volatile nature of the Niger Delta region occasioned by the struggle for resource control, environmental degradation, insecurity, mass poverty, youth unemployment and poor infrastructure to perpetrate crime within Rivers. Also, Nwajiaku-Dahou (2010) notes that associated political grievances were heightened by underdevelopment and the alienation of local people from rights to land and resources in the Niger Delta.

The problem was even aggravated by the phenomenon of youth restiveness which created a platform for activities of militant groups. Consequently, the outlaw security providers became beneficiaries of youth restiveness and freedomfighting endeavour of the people in Rivers State. The problem in this regard is that the militants represented the biggest security threat to the government. Very few identified the debilitating role of the outlaw security providers whose acts continue to undermine the efforts of security forces in securing the state. Most people focused on the activities of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), and others, which target oil exploration and multinational oil companies operating in the area. 

Some outlaws have gained prominence through their resolve to resist the marginalization of some groups in the society with assurances to protect when threatened by the state or other groups. 

Security providers are stakeholders in human security and, most times, they require the use of firearms to carry out their duties. However, there are times when their belief in the instrument of violence can make them abuse the availability of arms at their disposal to unleash terror on people or even adopt extra-judicial means to punish deviance or perceived wrongdoing. 

In Rivers States, there are numerous security providers with different assurances on their capacity to protect people and claims to the ability to fend off threats targeted at communities where they have footprint. Such claims and counterclaims indicate why there is usually a challenge of joint security operation in an environment where state security providers, and traditional, commercial and even outlaw security providers exist. 

Joint security operations are the actions and responses of state security providers which are deployed to check or contain arms proliferation carried out by outlaw security providers (Wallstrom, 2011:51). The presence of soldiers and other security operatives helps to instil discipline and orderliness in any environment or state that recorded instability or lawlessness to change the perception of people taking the law into their own hands and going away with it (OkolieOsemene and Aghalino, 2013). It is not disputable that if unchecked, outlaw security providers have the capacity to cause insecurity, as well as urban or community youth violence, and create a perception of negative peace, particularly in the minds of the residents of communities. Security operatives are facing the challenge of nipping their activities in the bud.

The troubling aspect of the existence of this category of security providers is that many outlaw security providers are usually engaged in deviant acts, such as assassination, extortion, violence against women and children, thuggery, kidnapping and attack on suspected cultists who threaten their existence.

Managing this problem is a challenge to the state government, which has to rethink security policies with the aim of regulating some activities of individuals and groups in Rivers State. Many people have raised questions on why it is so challenging for the government to address the problem of security providers who have been operating with impunity. Rivers State demands scholarly attention owing to the fact that the state has remained the hotbed of outlaw security providers’ activities in recent times. This made most gubernatorial aspirants to harp on how security provision would become the preoccupation of their government if voted into office as the chief security officer of state. The state capital Port Harcourt, remains the most urbanised city in Niger Delta which has been witnessing rural-urban migration since the advent of oil exploration and exploitation activities. Prior to the national amnesty programme which paved the way for Nigeria’s disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme for repentant militants, the state was a host of militancy. Then militant leaders like Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom, and Sogbomo George emerged. Many Rivers State youths became members of militant groups, like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV) and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA). 

Rivers is a state where relative deprivation, horizontal inequalities, frustration/aggression, greed and grievance exist. The state has also witnessed proliferation of social movements which agitate for youth-focused development and oil exploration in line with global practices for environmental sustainability, as well as clampdown on non-state actors by successive military and civilian administrations with attendant implications for socio-economic rights in the state. The state hosted the first disarmament exercise for non-state armed groups in 2005, when cash was given to repentant militants in exchange for the weapons they surrendered, especially small arms and light weapons, even before the Federal Government of Nigeria contemplated adopting the amnesty-oriented option as a strategy to managing the Niger Delta imbroglio.

Security provision in many parts of the developing world is fluid, and involves complex and hybrid arrangements consisting of multiple actors, both state and non-state (Dambazau, 2012; Hove, 2013; Pérouse de Montclos, 2016; Gupte, 2017; Donais, 2017; Lawrence, 2017). There is a corpus of literature on human security, joint security operations, arms proliferation as well as the significance of the rule of law and security sector reform in regulating the activities of security providers. However, most the studies did not adequately explore the role of Outlaw security providers and how they use arms to complicate security collaborations carried out by state actors. Even studies on Niger Delta, particularly the lethal violence within the region, did not properly examine the impact of outlaw security providers.  

1.3 Significance of the study

The conundrum of unstable society continues to undermine government’s efforts to guarantee human security. In Rivers State, the main significance of this study is to come up with recommendations and solutions to incessant threats to human security. This research will also produce a blueprint that can be used for further research in this discuss.

1.4 Scope of the study

This study was carried out in selected local government areas in Rivers state,namely, Etche, Ikwerre and Obio-Akpor lgas respectively.

1.5 Objectives of the study

1. To understand the nature of insecurity in Rivers state

2. To understand the role of security operatives in security state in rivers state

3. To identify relationship patterns between activities of security operative in river state and human security in rivers state.

1.6 Research Objectives

1. What is the nature of insecurity in Rivers state

2. What are the roles of security operatives in security state in rivers state

3. What are relationship patterns between activities of security operative in river state and human security in rivers state.

1.7 Research Hypothesis

H0: There is a weak relationship between activities of security operative in river state and human security in rivers state.

H1: There is a strong relationship between activities of security operative in river state and human security in rivers state.

1.8 Definition of terms

1. Human security: Human security means protecting fundamental freedoms – freedoms that are the essence of life. It means protecting people from critical (severe) and pervasive (widespread) threats and situations”. Human security integrates three freedoms: freedom from fear, freedom from want and the freedom from indignity.

2. Security Operatives:  A person employed by a government or private party to protect the employing party’s assets (property, people, equipment, money, etc.) from a variety of hazards (such as waste, damaged property, unsafe worker behavior, criminal activity such as theft, etc.) by enforcing preventative measures.

3: Social disorder:

Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and your other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends.


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