Nigeria

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 August 2018

Summary: Signatory Nigeria has not taken any steps to ratify the convention besides holding stakeholder consultations. Nigeria has participated in many of the convention’s meetings, most recently in September 2016, and voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017.

Nigeria is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but imported them and possesses a stockpile. In 2015 and 2016, Nigeria alleged that fighters from the armed non-state group Boko Haram have repurposed individual submunitions to use in improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Policy

The Federal Republic of Nigeria signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 12 June 2009, but it has taken few steps to ratify it, besides conduct stakeholder consultations.[1] Nigerian officials have committed to ratify the convention as soon as possible, but the process had not advanced to the National Assembly as of June 2018.[2]

Nigeria participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions and joined in the consensus adoption of the convention text in Dublin in May 2008. It attended the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 as an observer only and said it would sign after completing internal processes.[3] Nigeria subsequently signed the convention at the UN in New York in June 2009.

Nigeria has participated in most of the convention’s meetings as well as regional workshops, most recently in Kampala, Uganda in May 2017.[4]

Nigeria voted in favor of a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting implementation and universalization of the convention in December 2017.[5]

In its capacity as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Nigeria voted in favor of a May 2014 resolution expressing concern at the use of cluster munitions in South Sudan.[6] Nigeria also voted in favor of a June 2015 UNSC resolution on Sudan that expressed concern at evidence of cluster munition use in Darfur.[7]

Nigeria is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is a signatory to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, but has not yet ratified it.

Use, production, and transfer

Nigeria is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but imported them in the past.

Sierra Leone has alleged that Nigerian peacekeepers participating in an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) monitoring mission used cluster munitions in Sierra Leone in 1997, but the mission’s Force Commander General Victor Malu denied the allegation at the time.[8] In May 2012, Sierra Leone reiterated the allegations of use.[9] Nigeria again denied the use in September 2012, calling the finding “wrong and incorrect.”[10]

Stockpiling

The status and composition of Nigeria’s stockpiled cluster munitions is not known, but in April 2012, a government official said Nigeria stockpiles United Kingdom (UK)-made BL755 cluster bombs.[11]In September 2012, Nigeria requested technical assistance and support from States Parties to destroy the BL755 cluster bombs.[12]During the First Review Conference of the convention in 2015, Nigeria again requested “cooperation and assistance” to fulfill its stockpile destruction obligations.[13]

In 2015, Nigeria’s armed forces (Defence Headquarters) issued a public warning on the threat posed by IEDs made by Boko Haram from submunitions removed from cluster munitions.[14]The Ministry of Defence did not name the type of cluster munitions depicted in photographs of the weapons that it said Nigerian Army engineers in Adamawa state recovered from arms caches found in areas contested by Boko Haram. The submunitions were the types used in French-made BLG-66 cluster munitions, the same type Nigeria is alleged to have used in Sierra Leone in 1997. Agence France-Pressespeculated that Boko Haram could have taken the cluster munitions from Nigerian ammunition stocks or received them from smugglers who obtained them from Libyan arms depots.[15]

Nigeria has not indicated if it will retain cluster munitions for research or training purposes.



[1] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, Norway, 11 September 2012; and email from Mimidoo Achakpa, Network Coordinator, IANSA Women’s Network-Nigeria, 20 June 2012.

[2] Previously, in August 2016, government officials confirmed Nigeria’s intent to complete its ratification of the convention, but said the process had been slow due to a lack of prioritization. ICBL-CMC meeting with Tony Alonwu, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN in Geneva, in Addis Ababa, 5 August 2016. See also, statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, Zambia, September 2013; statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 18 April 2012; and statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 10 November 2010. Notes by the CMC.

[3] For details on Nigeria’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 223–224.

[4] Nigeria has participated in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties except in 2014 and 2017. It attended the First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2012 and 2014.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017. It voted in favor of previous UN resolutions supporting the convention in 2015 and 2016.

[7] UNSC Resolution 2228, 29 June 2015.

[8] According to sources close to the Sierra Leonean military, in 1997 Nigerian forces operating as ECOMOG peacekeepers dropped two cluster bombs on Lokosama, near Port Loko. See, IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup, IRIN, 10 March 1997. Additionally, Nigerian ECOMOG peacekeepers were reported to have used French-produced BLG-66 Belouga cluster bombs in an attack on the eastern town of Kenema. See also, “10 Killed in Nigerian raid in eastern Sierra Leone,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 11 December 1997.

[9] Statement of Sierra Leone, Accra Regional Conference on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 28 May 2012.

[10] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012.

[11] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 18 April 2012. Jane’s Information Group has reported that the Nigerian Air Force possesses BL755 cluster bombs. Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 843.

[12] Statement of Nigeria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012.

[13] See, for example, Croatia Progress Report, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 6 October 2015.

[14]Boko Haram has cluster bombs: Nigeria’s DHQ,” The News Nigeria, 8 October 2015.

[15]‘Boko Haram cluster bombs’ may come from Nigerian military,” AFP, 13 October 2015. See also, Philip Obaji Jr., “Boko Haram’s Cluster-Bomb Girls,” The Daily Beast, 2 October 2016.