How does the transnational security architecture and the use of “the security playbook” manifest in key national contexts? What evidence is there of the role of transnational security architecture (such as the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy; Financial Action Task Force; UN Security Council Resolutions and others) in facilitating restrictions on civic space in Nigeria? What links exist between transnational and domestic entities promoting and implementing a hard security paradigm and measures? What regional or bilateral security partnerships does Nigeria have with other countries and how do they influence the development and implementation of national security measures that limit fundamental freedoms and civil society?
Indeed, Nigeria is struggling to rein in several theaters of insecurity in different parts of the country. The military and non-military measures—mostly copied from abroad—deployed to combat these security threats create opportunities for the use and abuse of counter terrorism and security laws, and this is potentially becoming the dominant driver of closing civic space in Nigeria. Accordingly, this paper establishes the links between the transnational and national drivers of closing civic space in Nigeria built on the rhetoric of countering terrorism and defending national security. The enquiry starts by tracing the transnational origins and sources where national counterterrorism initiatives draw inspiration from. This is done by examining the international norms and standards that countries like Nigeria are under pressure to comply with, the global networks the country is expected to join and the consequences attached to non-compliance. The trends and patterns of governmental restrictions arising from the implementation of international counterterrorism norms at the local level illuminate whether the way Nigeria is following these standards is problematic or not. The findings build evidence of the government’s accelerated use of a security playbook to stifle dissent in the name of counterterrorism and deepen understanding of the unintended consequences of global security measures in Nigeria. Based on the collective intelligence and diagnosis of this security playbook, the paper concludes by highlighting the opportunities that exist in short-term and long-term for civic actors to push back, to disrupt, to reform, and over long-term to transform the influence of security on civic space.