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Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Media And Security Challenges In Nigeria

Intelligence artificielle (IA), les défis des médias et de la sécurité au Nigeria
Ifeyinwa NSUDE


The topic of this study titled ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI), the media and security challenges in Nigeria’ is a theoretical paper. To carry out this study phenomenological method in qualitative research was used. The work was guided by three (3) objectives, one of which is to ascertain the role of the media in awareness creation on artificial intelligence. Two (2) theories namely: agenda setting theory and value change theory were used. The paper delved into - application of AI in emerging terrorist sophistication, role of the media in information dissemination, challenges of deploying AI to curb the excesses of herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Four (4) recommendations were proffered, one of which was that the media should continue to create awareness on the use of AI in combating farmers/herders conflicts and Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.

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1Unarguably, Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity. This has made national security threat to be a major issue for the government and has prompted the senate to insist that increased budgets for the security and defence sectors to address the current security challenges are crucial in winning the war against insurgency, banditry, kidnappings and other crimes. (Jimoh,Okwe,Abuh,Daka&Afolabi, 2021).In order to ameliorate the incidence of crime, the federal government has embarked on criminalization of terrorism by passing the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011, and installation of Computer-based Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) in some parts of the country. Furthermore, the government has enhanced surveillance in all parts of the country especially in the Northeast with intensified surveillance and patrol activities along the Abuja – Kaduna road as well as investigation of criminal related offences and heightening of physical security measures in the country. (Angbulu, 2021). The government is also strengthening security agencies through the provision of security facilities and the development and broadcast of security tips in the mass media These measures are targeted at deterring or disrupting potentials attacks. (Angbulu, 2021). Despite these efforts, the level of insecurity in the country is still very high. Although the President of Nigeria claimed during his first year in office that Islamist militant group Boko Haram had been "technically" defeated, President Buhari now admits that his government is failing to stop the insurgency, which began in the north-east. Hence, it could be argued that the efforts of government have not yielded enough positive result.

2Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly developing field of technology that is capturing the attention of commercial investors, defense intellectuals, policymakers, and international competitors alike, as evidenced by a number of recent initiatives. (Congressional Research Service Report, 2020).

3On how artificial intelligence is transforming the world, West & Allen (2018) posit that AI is not a futuristic vision rather something that is here with us. It is being deployed into a variety of sectors such as finance, healthcare, criminal justice, transportation and national security which is the focus of this work. Radulov (2019) explains that it may even be possible for robots to perform basic police functions. Accordingly, if the police has high-quality computerized systems with the scope of an AI, much of their routine office work can be done by the intelligent security gadgets, resulting in new reservations being made to increase police presence in urban areas. AI can also be positioned to ensure the monitoring of video-data flows and data collected from a large number of sensors and to warn security services of suspicious activity, Radulov (2019). Similarly, AI can help companies prevent cyber-crime that can cause financial damage and harm their reputation by training it to recognize keywords or topics related to harmful content, thus stopping the potential cyber-attack (Radulov, 2019). Again, a common method of combating crime using AI is the Face Detection Technology. It is often used at airports to include mapping of human images into law enforcement database files, which allows identification of the perpetrator. Prevention of crimes of a terrorist nature through scanning of social networks to find people who can be radicalized is another activity that AI can effectively perform after appropriate training. Nowadays, some law enforcement agencies are already using social networking monitoring and analysis to prevent attempts to recruit new members of terrorist organizations such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and others like them (Radulov, 2019).

4While for many countries, the prospects of artificial intelligence (AI) are exciting, the dawn of AI in Africa conjure up the kinds of innovations people see in science fiction (Novitske, 2018). In Africa, the arrival of AI carries with it a fear of falling further behind more-developed economies, rather than the anticipation of new technology because of the fear that it will lead to loss of jobs by millions of people.

5It is on this note that the media should create awareness on what AI has accomplished in developed nations and how it can be adapted to reduce Farmers/Herders conflicts and Boko- Haram insurgency in Nigeria, which is the focus of this study.

Overview of Boko Haram and Herdsmen Insurgency in Nigeria

6Since 2003, Nigeria has continued to come face to face with security challenges, prominent among which are Boko-Haram terrorism and armed herdsmen violence in the North-Eastern region and the entire Nigeria (Agbu, Musa, & Zhema, 2020). According to the authors, the activities/operations of these two groups over the years have been with impunity, leaving in their trails, blood, death, wailing and destruction. This has devastating social, political and economic effects on the progress and stability of not only their direct victims, but the entire Northern region and Nigeria at large.

7While the violent deeds of Boko-Haram, with threatening effects on peace and national security, came to public notice in Yobe State in December 2003, the turn of the first decade of the 21st century witnessed violent attacks by armed herdsmen which have been in the increase in Nigeria (Enor, Magor&Ekpo 2019). The activities of what came to be known as Boko-Haram started when a group of Islamic fanatics who called themselves the ‘Nigerian Taliban’ established settlements at Kanama, on the banks of the River Kumadugu-Yobe and at a forest near Gaidam.(Enor, Magor&Ekpo 2019).

8The activities of the Boko Haram members in their immediate environment brought them into open confrontation with not only members of the community, but security agents in places like Kanama, Geidam, Babangida, Dapchi and Damaturu, among others. The arrest of two of their members by the police was met with violent reaction against the police during which they launched attacks not only on police stations and government buildings, but generally wreaked havoc on Yunusari, Tarmowa, Borsari, Geidam, Kanama, Dapchi and Damaturu Local Government Areas of Yobe State between 21st December 2003 and 1st January 2004. Boko-Haram has killed thousands of Nigerians and rendered millions of people homeless especially in the North-East Nigeria. Unfortunately, Government has failed to curtail the activities of the group who now control parts of some states in the North and hoist their flag to show autonomy (Ayitogo, 2021).

9In the same vein, the activities of armed herdsmen who have been terrorizing, particularly farming communities in the Middle-Belt region of Nigeria (Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Southern Kaduna States) have equally been a grave concern (Agbu, Musa, & Zhema, 2020). This group uses open grazing method which has led to the destruction of farms. Farmer have pleaded repeatedly with Herdsmen to control their cattle since the farms are their only source of income but they did not listen rather they resorted to carrying of arms, raping and unprovoked killings. Since 2013, they crossed over from the MiddleBelt region to the Eastern and Southern parts of Nigeria. Some scholars refer to the menace as Farmers/Herders conflicts (Gani, 2018). Since their emergence, the armed herders have terrorized, kidnapped, killed, raped, burnt farming communities, property and taken-over lands belonging to the farming communities for their grazing activities (Agbu, Musa, &Zhema, 2020). Their activities have also resulted in the loss of revenue by the States, threatened national unity, diversion of budgetary allocations for the maintenance of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, loss of human capital and damage to the country’s international image (Enor, Magor& Expo 2019).

10Furthermore, their attacks have led to the displacement of thousands of the inhabitants of the North East of Nigeria from their homes, paralyzed farming activities and inhibited food production and transportation as well as contributed to unprecedented food crises across Borno state. (Duerksen, 2021).


111. The broad objective of this study is to find out the role of the media in creating awareness on the use of AI in the fight against Farmers/Herders conflict and Boko-Haram insurgency in Nigeria. To explore this objective, the following specific objectives were put forward:

122. to investigate the effectiveness of AI in combating Farmers/Herders conflict and Boko-Haram insurgency in Nigeria.

133. to ascertain the role of the media in awareness creation on Artificial Intelligence.

144. to make recommendations on how AI could be deployed to check against insecurity in Nigeria.

Statement of the Problem

15The security challenges in Nigeria are multidimensional, arising from many angles: Boko Haram, herdsmen, bandits, unknown gunmen, kidnapers, militants and separatist agitators. Solutions to the problems seem not to be near as these insurgent groups are growing in strength, capacity and sophistication. The activities of the various groups have perpetuated human sufferings, loss of lives and living in fears in the country. It looks like Nigeria is now a captured state existing at the mercy of its assailants because the governments at all levels are not doing enough. So this study, sought to find out how none human actors could be used in checking the rising activities of Herdsmen and Boko-Haram in Nigeria and how the media could be used to create awareness.


16This study employed phenomenological approach in qualitative research. Phenomenologists believe that the researcher cannot be detached from his/her own presuppositions and that the researcher should not pretend otherwise In this study, the experiences of the researcher are vital because the threats from Boko Haram and herdsmen are daily experienced by the researcher, hence the researcher’s view together with other scholarly views was considered sufficient to explore the phenomenon under discussion and provide evidence-based reasons for the deployment of AI in curbing the menace of Boko Haram and Herdsmen that pose security challenges in Nigeria.

Theoretical Framework

17The study was anchored on the Agenda Setting Theory and Value Change Theory.

18Agenda Setting Theory

19The term agenda setting was coined by Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw in 1972 and first published in Public Opinion Quarterly. (McQuail, &Deuze, 2020). The theory describes the media as instruments which are used to influence public opinion by emphasizing on issue and through such emphasis make the public to consider the issues as important. The media do this by reporting certain issues frequently and, or giving prominence to them. This implies that the more a news item is promoted in the media in terms of frequency and prominence, the more important such news item becomes to the audiences. In other words, the news media lead the public issues. Hence, as the media emphasize on the need to fight against insurgency and expose the heinous crimes insurgents commit, the people take them to be serious issues. Also, the more the government and those affected by the activities of the insurgents take it seriously.

20Moreover, since the activities of Boko Haram and herdsmen in Nigeria affect the people negatively, the media should expose the harm done to innocent Nigerian by these groups. The theory was also considered suitable for this study because since media have influence on the public, but can create mass awareness on the important issues concerning insurgency and how AI can be used to stop the insurgents from winning the war.

Value Change Theory

21Also the Value Change Theory was used to complement the Agenda Setting Theory. This theory is a variant of the Psychodynamic theory. It employs the technique of “Comparative feedback” to encourage attitudinal and behavioral change. The value change theory does not just inform people about the benefits or negative effects of certain behavior, it usually challenges them to test their own values against others, which are assumed to be socially acceptable. The justification of this theory lies in the fact that Nigerians need a change of value in order to accept AI solutions to security challenges in the country.

Conceptual Clarifications

Artificial Intelligence AI, Robots and Machine Learning

22Clarification of the relationships between these terms can be challenging, as they may be used interchangeably in the literature and definitions often conflict with one another (CRS Report, 2020). AI is “An artificial system designed to think or act like a human, including cognitive architectures and neural networks; a set of techniques, including machine learning that is designed to approximate a cognitive task.” (CRS Report, 2020). AI is also defined by the US Government in 115th Congress Public Law 232 (2019) as an artificial system designed to act rationally, including an intelligent software agent or embodied robot that achieves goals using perception, planning, reasoning, learning, communicating, decision-making, and acting.

23On the other hand, Robot is “a powered machine capable of executing a set of actions by direct human control, computer control, or a combination of both. At a minimum it is comprised of a platform, software, and a power source.” (Department of Defence, n.d as cited in CRS Report, 2020).These definitions imply that AI is a combination of machine learning and robots that are inbuilt with intelligence to act like human. It is machine learning and robots given human characteristics. The difference between AI and machine learning and robots is that the senses in machine learning and robot cannot direct activities without direct human assistance - a feature that makes AI unique. As noted earlier, machine learning makes use of statistical algorithms that replicate human cognitive tasks by generating their own procedures through analysis of large training data sets. (Allen, 2020). During the training process, the computer system creates its own statistical model to accomplish the specified task in situations it has not previously encountered (CRS Report). Experts generally agree that it will be many decades before the field advances to develop General AI, which refers to systems capable of human-level intelligence across a broad range of tasks. (Allen, 2020).

The Media:

24The media have been operationalized in this paper to include both the traditional media (newspaper, radio, television, magazine etc.) and social media.

Application of Artificial Intelligence in Emerging Terrorists Sophistication

25The war against insurgency in Nigeria is increasingly getting more difficult to win. This is because insurgencies are ultimately in competitions over information rather than territory ideology (Meserole, 2018). However, the deployment of AI in the fight against Boko Haram and armed herdsmen in Nigeria could be of strategic importance in winning the war. AI technology could, for example, facilitate autonomous operations, lead to more informed military decision making, and increase the speed and scale of military action (CRS Report, 2020).

26 Seeing the strategic importance of AI, Vladimir Putin state, “Whoever becomes the leader in AI will be the ruler of the world.” (Kania, 2017). 

27As AI is fast being incorporated into a number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications, as well as in logistics, cyberspace operations, information operations, command and control, semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, and lethal autonomous weapon systems, there are chances that their application in the fight against Boko Haram will provide the needed response that could dislodge the insurgents from their enclaves. In intelligence operations, the application of AI will mean that there are more sources than ever from which to establish the truth. (Allen &Taniel, 2017).AI is expected to be particularly useful in intelligence due to the large data sets available for analysis (CRS discussions with Dr. Richard Linderman, 2017 as cited in CRS Report, 2020). For instance, the incorporation of computer vision and AI algorithms into intelligence collection cells that would comb through footage from uninhabited aerial vehicles and automatically identify hostile activity for targeting (CRS, 2020) when achieved could go a long way in exploring the forest areas that are the hideouts of the Boko Haram group and the armed herdsmen. In this capacity, AI will automate the work of human analysts who currently spend hours sifting through drone footage for actionable information, potentially freeing analysts to make more efficient and timely decisions based on the data. (Corrigan,2017).

28In the area of applying technology to reduce fratricide, AI technologies have tremendous potentials for the joint force as well as potential hazards. It is possible to envision scenarios in which AI can provide much more effective early identification in protecting civilians as well as combatants from enemy fire (for example, more precise targeting or minimizing collateral damage). (Hitchens, 2019). With regard to developing a more robust and rapid response to emergency scenarios, the key for the Nigerian army will be adopting AI technology and applying it to respond to Boko Haram and Herdsmen attacks that enhance survivability as well as isolating the negative impacts that result from accidents, biological hazards, and natural disasters. (Koester, 2020).

29In the area of passive defensive measures, AI could assist taking proactive/precautionary steps to make it more difficult for a hostile force to locate and engage personnel, assets/facilities, and various systems (such as communications). One could imagine the use of deep learning systems (machines that are programmed to discern when certain types of attacks are likely/imminent) conducting analysis quicker than could be expected by human monitoring and/or reaction. (Hoehn&Smagh, 2021). Other examples where deep learning systems could prove beneficial include cyber defense and electronic warfare attacks. In defense strategy, Autonomous systems (AS)could be used to complement AI. In this respect, AS provides an advantage in defensive postures to select and engage incoming enemy indirect fires (for example, mortars, artillery shells, and rockets). An autonomous system designed to provide a rapid and robust “counter-battery” response against the origin of an attack provides commanders with additional time to focus on second- and third-order decisions given that the initial response to the attack was “automatically initiated” with speed and accuracy (CRS Report, 2020). Israel uses this type of force protection approach with its Iron Dome defenses (Clark, 2017).

30In the area of logistics, AI can be used to reduce the spate of military aircraft crashes that the Nigeria military experience in its operations in enemy territory and sometimes in war free zones. Such crashes are the result of undetected faults. In this case, AI may have future utility in the field of military logistics. The Air Force, for example, is beginning to use AI for predictive aircraft maintenance. Instead of making repairs when an aircraft breaks or in accordance with standardized fleet-wide maintenance schedules, the Air Force could use AI-enabled approach that tailors maintenance schedules to the needs of individual aircraft (CRS, 2020).

31Regarding the use of AI/AS in military operations, there are currently four capability areas envisioned for unmanned systems: battlespace awareness, force application, protection, and logistics. (Colin & Clark, 2017). For example, the use of robots would mean that fewer troops would be needed to defend a certain piece of terrain (CRS, 2020). Robots also have the capability to operate for longer periods of time without the human need for rest

32Moreover, unmanned systems can operate in harsh and deadly environments (for example, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear) with less degradation in capabilities. These and other examples provide an economy-of-force advantage that would allow army commanders the flexibility to allocate personnel to particular aspects of a battle plan (for example, interpretive or conceptual work) that are not conducive to or appropriate for unmanned systems. (Defense Innovation Board, 2019; Tarraf, et al. 2019). An economy-of-force advantage from AI/AS would help address one of General Dunford’s stated concerns, namely that the joint force currently lacks sufficient capacity to meet all the combatant commands’ requirements for forces. (Defense Innovation Board, 2019).

33Also, AI has the potential to be integrated across a variety of applications, improving the so-called “Internet of Things” in which disparate devices are networked together to optimize performance. (Ranger, 2018). In addition, many AI applications are dual-use, meaning they have both military and civil applications. For example, image recognition algorithms can be trained to recognize cats in YouTube videos as well as terrorist activity in full motion video captured by uninhabited aerial vehicles. In support, (Allen & Taniel, 2017) states that future progress in AI has the potential to be a transformative national security technology, on a par with nuclear weapons, aircraft, computers, and biotech. According to the authors AI has led to significant changes in the strategy, organization, priorities, and allocated resources of the U.S. national security community. It could, therefore, be argued that in Nigeria, the use of AI will be at least equally impactful. Allen & Taniel, (2017) state that advances in AI will affect national security by driving change in three areas: military superiority, information superiority, and economic superiority. In the area of military superiority, the application of AI in Nigeria will both enable new capabilities and make existing capabilities affordable to a broader range of actors (Allen & Taniel, 2017). For example, commercially available, AI-enabled technology (such as long-range drone package delivery) may give weak states and non-state actors access to a type of long-range precision strike capability.

34In summary, with the help of AI, joint military action could be enforced in the areas of risk management, communicating and maintaining the status of information among and across subordinate units, assessing progress toward accomplishing mission-related tasks, and coordinating/controlling the employment of joint lethal and non lethal capabilities. (CRS Report, 2020). Given these important tasks, it is clear that AI/AS could play a significant role in creating efficiencies in a variety of Nigerian army decision making processes. (National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs, 2019). As noted by Samuel White, “Winning in the decision space is winning in the battle space.” (Schwartz & Heidi, 2018).

35Also, AI/AS could prove beneficial in providing more timely, accurate, and relevant intelligence that results in a more robust common operating picture across the joint force, something that would provide a staff with the opportunity to keep commanders better apprised of developments in the battle space. (Department of Defense, 2020). AI/AS can also assist automated analysis of volumes of daily Facebook posts by the so-called Islamic State and its sympathizers, looking for actionable intelligence that even the most robust team of humans could not possibly generate in a similarly efficient manner. (Department of Defense, 2020). GeneralDunford has described these types of scenarios as the ability of commanders to “make decisions at the speed of relevance.” (Chalfant, 2017).

36On the issue of intelligence process, AI will be important in six categories of intelligent operations: planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, dissemination and integration, and evaluation and feedback. (Smith, 2018). If correctly established and thoroughly vetted by subject matter experts from all Services and intelligence disciplines, AI/AS tools offer a variety of opportunities and provide the potential for mitigating cognitive analyst biases (for example, availability heuristic or bandwagon effect). (CRS Report, 2020). Planning and direction will likely continue to be a human-driven operation, although AI/AS can provide recommendations using historical data, cultural knowledge, previous operational design, and results. As with many applications of AI/AS, the likelihood of success with the employment of these technologies is largely dependent on the quality and volume of the data available for analysis. Critical to the success of AI/AS efforts in joint intelligence will be the normalization of legacy stove pipe data segregation.

37In the area of movement and maneuver, the objective is to gain positional advantage to accomplish both operational and strategic goals. This is done primarily through five key tasks: deploying forces within the operational area (OA), maneuvering to achieve the advantage, providing constant ability to mobilize over terrain or obstacles without delay, delaying or stopping the enemy, and controlling significant areas

38In the area of movement and maneuver, an autonomous system such as a robot has certain advantages over a human. For example, a robot has no instinctual need for self-protection that could slow an advance. A robot does not have the emotions that could otherwise distract/impair a warfighter’s judgment (for example, frustration, fear, revenge, or rage). Conversely, robots have no innate appreciation for the sanctity of human life or feelings such as compassion or mercy. (Stone, 2017). One example of new AI/AS technology in the movement and maneuver domain is the American Navy’s new unmanned underwater vehicle, which is capable of operating for 5 months at a time without maintenance or refueling. (Stone, 2017). However, the future challenge is finding ways to enable these systems to autonomously predict, plan, track, and optimize re-supply demands from military users. (Theohary, 2018). This idea of interconnected autonomy will allow troops to focus more on the mission instead of using precious time planning how they will maneuver from one place to another across the battle space. (CRS Report, 2020).

Role of the Media (Traditional and Social media) in Information Dissemination

39The media have critical role to play in creating awareness on the use of AI in counter terrorism operations(Zhang, Huang, Su, Zhao & Zhang, 2016). Knowing the information dissemination mechanisms of different media and having an efficient information dissemination plan for disaster pre-warning plays a very important role in reducing losses and ensuring the safety of humans.Natural and man-made disasters seriously threaten human life and property. A more reliable and efficient pre-warning information dissemination system could improve public emergency responses, and enable people to evacuate and take protective measures before and during a disaster.

40In Nigeria, for example, more than one million lives have been saved by the use of cell phones to alert people on attacks by the Boko Haram group and the herdsmen in the Northeast. Moreover, victims easily survived in an effective and efficient way if they have more detailed information (Zhang, Huang, Su, Zhao & Zhang, 2016). This is in line with the assertion of Dwivedi and Pandey (2013) who postulate that the media play very constructive role in today’s society. Media play important role in increasing of public awareness and collecting views, information and attitudes toward certain issues.

41Information media can be divided into social and traditional media. Social media including short messages, microblogs, and news portals, because of their high impact and coverage ratio made possible by developments in information technology, are becoming increasingly popular and therefore critical tools of information dissemination. For instance, they can enhance the decision-making process since more data is provided than it is the case with traditional media.

42On the other hand, the media can also, in some cases, become an instrument for the dissemination of false and inflammatory messages and values that do not promote respect or well-tempered dialogue and discussion. Negative messages can divide communities and can help perpetuate the stereotypes that nurture violence. Media portrayals can sometimes serve to exacerbate the narrative of oppositional forces and irreconcilable, value-based differences. The media often prefer to dwell on conflicts, since conflicts and drama sell newspapers and attract an audience. 

43In addition to creating awareness on the issues of insurgency and its corresponding challenges, the media also carry out surveillance function – scanning the environment and reporting the security situations in Nigeria. Surveillance of the environment is a more complex way of saying that a function of mass communications is to tell you about what's happening around the world and deliver that information to the citizenry. However, some scholars have spoken against the surveillance function of the media, especially in the area of privacy violation and invasion.But in the crisis situation that Nigeria faces, the role of circulating information and news which is one of the most important general roles of the mass media can be very germane in managing the crisis as well as mobilization against life-threatening-diseases such as COVID-19. Surveillance is in fact, the news and information role of the media since it has taken the place of sentinels and lookouts. In performing this function, the digital platform as well as the offering of the social media have made the media impressive in this functioning but not without concerns. The surveillance function can be divided further into two main types: warning or beware surveillance which occurs when the media inform us about immediate or long term consequences, and the instrumental surveillance which has to do with the transmission of information that is useful and helpful in everyday life. Identified consequences include speed of delivery which sometimes leads to problems since inaccuracies and distortions travel just as fast as truthful statements; prescreening of news which condemns our conception of reality to second generation information, whose authenticity we do not usually question. On the dysfunctional side, media surveillance can create unnecessary anxiety, thus suggesting the praxis that this functionality could be double-edged. The two major things that concern us in this work on the role of the media include the speed at which the media disseminate information and global coverage of issues particularly the social media. For instance, during the period of End-SARS protest the rate at which information spread to all parts the Federation was amazing because the protesters were carrying the activity in all the states at the same time.

44In fact, “national security in the Nigerian state has been severally threatened since its independence by multidimensional issues. The challenges range from ethnic mistrust and bigotry, religious acrimonies, ethnic and border disputes to political hooliganism and violence as well as all forms of insurgencies against constituted authorities.” (Omoera,Azeez, &Doghudje, 2017, p.80). The authors note that these challenges threatened the oneness of the nation in the first republic to the extent that it led to the incursion of the military into governance; the military using the excuse of coming in to safeguard the integrity and continuous existence of the nation. However, in post- independence Nigeria, the real threats to its national security are no more limited to threats from other nation-states, but have been consistently built around internal crises and violence emanating from religious, ethnic and political acrimonies or differences. (Omoera, Azeez, &Doghudje, 2017). The most virulent of the challenges to Nigeria’s national security is now terrorism as exemplified by a group of pseudo-Islamic extremists known as Boko Haram sects.(Omoera, Azeez, &Doghudje, 2017). This challenge has made the surveillance function of the media in Nigeria more important than ever.

Challenges of Deploying AI to curb the excesses of Herdsmen and Boko Haram Insurgents in Nigeria

45AI is a powerful tool that is increasingly being used in both the public and private sectors to make people and society at large healthier, wealthier, safer and more sustainable (UN, 2021). The United Nations Secretary-General, AntónioGuterres, has indicated that, if harnessed appropriately, AI can play a role in the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring peace and prosperity for all. It is, however, an enormously powerful technology that is not without its challenges. If not used properly and with appropriate safeguards, this technology can hamper fundamental freedoms and infringe upon human rights. Although AI has the potential to impart a number of advantages in the military context, it could as well introduce distinct challenges. (CRS Report, 2020)

46However, Artificial intelligence can be used to manipulate the common sense. For instance, AI-enhanced forgery of audio and video media is rapidly improving in quality and decreasing in cost. In the future, AI-generated forgeries will challenge the basis of trust across many institutions. (Allen &Taniel, 2017). Hence, AI poses serious risks as it could be far better than computer in the manipulating of contents, creation of fake image, doctor speech that adequately captures cadence and tone and videos that would be difficult if not impossible to distinguish from the authentic one. (CRS, 2020)

47Also, the terrorists in Nigeria seem to have greater access to modern weapons of warfare. However, Nigeria can successfully engage the services of AI to fight the war against Boko Haram, but the problem is that the use of artificial intelligence could be easier to learn than the use of military hardware. That is, artificial intelligence is less likely to require massive logistics systems to deploy, not requiring large training or acquisitions programmes. For instance, the techniques and skills of using weaponized drone and the deployment of such AI could be easily learnt much faster than the use of armored car which requires a trained military junta to operate. By implication, insurgent groups will be able to make far more rapid gains in AI technology and capability than previously possible, and with their advancement in Nigeria ahead of the federal troops, it is possible that they can have advantage of the Nigerian combatants’ soldiers. (CRS, 2020)

48However, it is not just the deployment of artificial intelligence that can give an edge to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram and Herdsmen. The successful application of AI lies more in the hands of which of the side – the government or the insurgent – that is the first to do so. This is because it is arguable that the effects of the development of information technology may reduce insurgents’ attacks by making it easier for the states to gather intelligence about insurgents. On the other hand, it may increase attacks by enabling insurgents to better coordinate with one another.

49The use of machine learning in support of military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities or command systems could create new avenues for misperception or miscalculation (Kania, 2017). For instance, if a computer vision algorithm used to process satellite imagery makes an error in identifying a perceived threat or potential target, the result could be a mistake in analysis or even on the battlefield. Similarly, if an algorithm used for machine translation or natural language processing incorrectly renders a critical piece of intelligence, inaccurate information could be introduced into analytical and decision-making processes. (Of course, in some cases, the use of AI could serve to mitigate suboptimal analysis and decision-making that might otherwise arise from human cognitive bias.) There is also the threat that adversaries will develop countermeasures that deliberately damage or interfere with each other’s AI systems, seeking to distort data or target the algorithm itself (Kania, 2017).

50Another problem is that insurgents can easily blend in with their surrounding populations hence regime force cannot defeat an insurgency unless the local population identifies who and where the insurgents are. Unfortunately, the state and the insurgents are engaged in a war of winning the local communities over to their side while the challenge remains to convince local civilians to provide information while on the other hand the insurgents continues to persuade or coax the civilians not to divulge what they know. (Meserole, 2018). Under this war of ideology, wining will be dependent on the deployment of advanced technology like AI to gather and decode complex and undisclosed information that matter.


51The study revealed that the application of AI technologies in the fight against Boko Haram and Herdsmen insurgency in Nigeria will be impactful if applied appropriately. It will lead to significant changes in the strategy, organization, priorities, and allocated resources of the Nigeria national security community. The deployment of AI will affect national security by driving changes in three areas: military superiority, information superiority, and economic superiority. For military superiority, progress in AI will both enable new capabilities and make existing capabilities affordable to a broader range of actors. For information superiority, AI will dramatically enhance capabilities for the collection and analysis of data, but also the creation of data. In intelligence operations, this will mean that there are more sources than ever from which to discern the truth. AI-enhanced forgery of audio and video media is rapidly improving in quality and decreasing in cost. In the future, AI-generated forgeries will challenge the basis of trust across many institutions. Also the challenges of using AI were high lighted in the study. Furthermore, the role of the media in information dissemination was high lighted. They are expected to create awareness on the use of AI in combating the Boko Haram and Herdsmen insurgency.


52Based on the findings, the following recommendations are proffered :

531. The government should be realistic in the fight against Herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria by engaging the services of AI experts in all fronts. Also there should be political will power on the part of the government to show sincerity in curbing the excesses of these two groups.

542. The challenges as pointed out in this paper should be critically studied by AI experts and researchers in order to bridge the gap.

553. The media should continue to create awareness on the use of AI in combating farmers/Herders conflicts and Boko Hara insurgency in Nigeria in order to draw the attention of both the government and the masses to see the need to urgently root out these two deadly groups.

564. The researcher should discuss this paper at different fora in order to create the needed awareness.

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Electronic reference

Ifeyinwa NSUDE, “Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Media And Security Challenges In Nigeria”Communication, technologies et développement [Online], 11 | 2022, Online since 15 February 2022, connection on 29 November 2023. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Ifeyinwa NSUDE

Ebonyi State University

By this author

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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