Conflict Research Network West Africa

This webinar is the first in a series of webinars organized by the Conflict Research Network West Africa for scholars based in West Africa and Cameroon to showcase their research to a broad audience beyond their institutions and countries. The themes of the webinars will be centered around the drivers and dynamics of violent conflicts and the challenges of sustainable peacebuilding in West Africa and Cameroon.

In this webinar on 15 July 2021, 10.00AM-12.00PM (West African Time), we explore the Politics of Vigilantism and Sub-National Security in Ghana and Nigeria.

Vigilantism in Africa has attracted significant academic interest in the last 20 years, with many often arguing that their emergence and sustenance is linked to a certain ‘demand for legal institutions’ to cater for the state’s incapacities and neglects. This driving context (of demands, state incapacities and neglects) is then fitted into a parallel discourse of state ‘exits’ from its role in the post-colonial setting and the rise of non-state actors in filling the vacuum. In Ghana, vigilantism is largely linked to political institutions and processes of parties and elections and self-help within communities. While in Nigeria, research on vigilantism has emphasized on context of the process of erosion of state authority at different levels of society. Yet, contemporary realities in both countries suggest a more nuanced understanding of the complex relationship between vigilante groups and the State. Indeed, not only does vigilantism interact with the ongoing democratic experiment in both countries, but some groups variedly coordinate their activities with the backing of the State. Yet, vigilantes – almost counteracting hitherto assumed ethnic underpinnings – have not only become more nationalistic but multi-ethnic solidarities is interestingly becoming a feature. Legitimization of vigilantes thus goes beyond the community and is now part of state led debates on security, especially at the sub-national level. Increasingly, the State exploits their activities both as a means to an end and a justification for repressions. These contemporary realities raise new and important questions that requires revisiting long held views about vigilantism in Africa. How does the State legitimise their existence? How do their activities intertwine, challenge, and reproduce State interests in a democratic setting? What is the nature of Vigilante-State relations in multi-ethnic contexts? And does vigilantism come to an end? Speakers at the webinar will provide answers to these questions.


Understanding political vigilantism in Ghana – Sulley Ibrahim, KU Leuven, Belgium

Community Arming in Nigeria: Claims on the Monopoly of the Means of Violence or Conversations in Security Governance and Statebuilding Below? – Kialee Nyiayaana, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Youth violence and political vigilantism in Ghana – Kafui Tsekpo, University of South Africa, Pretoria

Protecting the People: Police Response to Political Vigilantism in Ghana – Kojo Impraim, Ghana National Peace Council, Accra

Politics of Security Sector Reform: Violence and the Emergence of Regional Security Outfits in Nigeria – Onyekachi Nnabuihe, Caleb University, Lagos


Kate Meagher, Associate Professor in Development Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.

George M. Bob-Milliar, Senior Lecturer, Department of History and Political Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi.


Tarila Marclint Ebiede, Brussels School of Governance, Belgium

Please click the link to register: Attend

For more information, please contact the organizers by email: [email protected]

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  • I would the discussant, to go into details on the cause of community arming, the solution and further recommendation. Thanks

    • Thanks for your efforts

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