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Nigeria, Intelligence and Security

Nigeria, Intelligence and Security

In 1998, Nigeria overthrew its ruling dictatorship, which possessed close ties to the nation's military. The transitional government that gained power attempted to restore the long-suspended Constitution of 1979 and institute democratic reforms. The progress of reform has been slow.

The Nigerian intelligence community was an instrumental part of the former authoritarian regime. Political espionage, surveillance of citizens, and detainment of political dissidents was commonplace, garnering criticism for its brutality from the international community.

Nigeria's intelligence community was radically restructured in 1986. The National Security Organization was dissolved, prompting the formation of three, smaller, more specialized agencies. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is Nigeria's main civilian intelligence agency. The main responsibilities of the NIA are counterintelligence and foreign intelligence collection operations. The NIA focuses on external threats to Nigerian national interests. The State Security Service (SSS) manages domestic intelligence, and works closely with the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (FIIB), the liaison agency between law enforcement and intelligence services.

Nigeria's military intelligence is also coordinated through the executive office of the government. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is responsible for foreign and domestic military intelligence. The DIA is more secretive in its operations and maintains a larger special action force than the civilian intelligence agencies.

Democratic reforms have progressed slowly in Nigeria. Government corruption remains endemic. Despite changes made to the Nigerian intelligence community, political espionage and abuse of intelligence resources are still reported by Western human rights agencies, which claim that accusations of the rape and torture of citizens along with destruction of private property increased in 2002. Human rights agencies and western intelligence service reports maintain that Nigerian government censorship of media and communications, including the use of intelligence resources for surveillance, persists.

Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa. The nation's major export is oil, which provides the government with over half of its annual income. In 2002, Nigeria was the fifth largest oil supplier to the United States.

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