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Killing Field: How 1,525 Nigerians Were Killed in Six Weeks of 2021



As flames of violence and other forms of lives guzzling insecurity flicker in many parts of the country, Nigeria has literally become a killing field.

In the first six weeks of 2021, lives of no fewer than 1,525 persons have been wasted across the country, Vanguard’s investigation, and data obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker, NST, a project of the Council on ForeignRelations’ Africa programme, have shown.

The Nigeria Security Tracker tracks violence that is both causal and symptomatic of Nigeria’s political instability and citizen alienation. The data are based on weekly surveys of Nigerian and international media. The 1,525-death figure, which is conservative, covers only reported cases arising from the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, herdsmen crisis, kidnapping, communal and cult clashes, armed robbery, and brutality of security agents among others.

Many security breaches are not reported. It is also difficult to tell the number of abducted victims who die in captivity as unconfirmed reports put the number of those in various kidnap dens across the country at over 5000.

The 1,525 deaths are about half of the 3,188 lives lost between January and December 2019, according to a report by Global Rights. It is also four times the 348 people killed in violent attacks across Nigeria in December 2020, as reported by a non-governmental organisation, Nigeria Mourns. Currently, Nigeria is the third country most impacted by terrorism, going by the Global Terrorism Index 2020 after Afghanistan and Libya.

The 2020 terrorism index report said though total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 1,245 in 2019, a 39 per cent decrease from the prior year, terror-related incidents also fell by 27 per cent, marking the lowest level of terrorist violence in Nigeria since 2011. Boko Haram, Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist group, recorded an increase in terrorist activity mainly targeted at civilians by 25 per cent from the prior year.

Additionally, Fulani extremists were responsible for 26 per cent of terror-related deaths in Nigeria at 325 fatalities. The herdsmen crisis is one of the reasons the county is boiling now following prevailing incidents in many southern states especially Oyo, Ondo and Ogun.



Deaths in the states


Of the country’s 36 states, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, only three had zero reported deaths linked to insecurity. The states are Bayelsa, Bauchi, and Kebbi.

The most deadly states are Kaduna (409), Zamfara (267) and Borno (257). Kaduna and Zamfara are the hotbeds of banditry ravaging the North-West zone of the country while Borno is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.

States that recorded high deaths include: Yobe (76), Niger (73), Delta (46), Ebonyi (43), Katsina (41), Oyo (37), Plateau (31), Lagos (26), Rivers (24), Imo (23), Ogun (20), and Ondo (20). Others are Nasarawa (16), Cross River (15), Benue (12), Anambra (11), Akwa Ibom (11), Kogi (11), Kwara (cool, Taraba (cool, Osun (cool, Abia (7), Edo (7), Sokoto (5), Adamawa (4), FCT Abuja (3), Kano (2), Gombe (1), Enugu (1), and Jigawa (1).

According to the data, the South-East zone is the most peaceful zone with 85 reported deaths followed by the South-South, which had 103 deaths, and South-West, 112 deaths. Conversely, the North-West is the deadliest zone with 724 deaths, followed by its flanking North-East, which witnessed no fewer than 346 deaths and North-Central that had 155 deaths.

In the South-East, Ebonyi on account of the Effium-Ezza communal crisis recorded most deaths followed by Imo, which tally was spiked by the clashes between security forces and the Eastern Security Network, ESN, of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in Orlu.

In the South-West, Oyo State was on the front burner due to the herdsmen and locals’ crisis in Ibarapa as well as Amotekun brushes with youths. Cult-related killings and other crimes took the tally of deaths in Lagos to 26. In the South-South, Delta and Rivers were on the front-burner due to pirates’ activities in Rivers; and cult clashes and armed robbery-related killings in Delta.

In sum, the three southern zones accounted for 300 or 18.19 per cent of the 1,525 deaths. The northern zones recorded 1,225 or 81.91 per cent of the tallied deaths.

A host of Nigerian leaders have decried the rising waves of insecurity in the country and tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on urgent action. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said on February 10 that Nigeria’s leaders had failed and must come together irrespective of political differences to save the country.

He said: “Every time a citizen going about his business is killed or kidnapped, losses his property or livelihood, we have failed in our obligations.”

Senators, on the same day, spoke in like manner, saying that Nigeria was becoming a failed state on account of insecurity and asked President Buhari to issue an executive order on the need to flush out criminal herders.

Indeed, Nigeria’s last military Head of State and Chairman of the National Peace Committee, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), warned on Wednesday that Nigeria is on the highway to disintegration unless insecurity is decisively tackled. “In the last two weeks or so, tension has been growing in the country and the embers of disunity, anarchy and disintegration are spreading fast and if care is not taken, this might lead us to a point of no return,” he warned.


How Nigerians were killed in the zones


South-East – 85

South-South – 103

South-West – 112

North-Central – 155

North-East – 346

North-West – 724


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