BusinessDay

Nigeria’s future uncertain as security threats grows – Report

...Over 6,000 persons killed in 18 months

Despite assurances and claims of improved security by the Nigerian government, a recent report shows that insecurity has only deteriorated across the country. At least 6,445 people have been killed in violent attacks under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch in 18 months alone.

The report, titled ‘Nigeria’s Security Situation Analysis’, by Nextier, an international development consulting firm, revealed that Nigeria is enduring a rise in insecurity as armed actors establish new killing fields. It says Nigeria’s future may be uncertain due to the growing security threats.

A breakdown of the report revealed a significant rise in killings largely perpetrated by bandits, terrorists, secessionists and even security forces between January 2021 and June 2022.

According to the report, these armed groups are also expanding and exploring new ways to wreak more havoc despite the resources and strategies deployed by military authorities. It notes that the Nigerian government has spent at least N8 trillion on security provisions in the last six years without achieving the desired results.

For instance, the report shows that banditry in the North-West and North-Central has transitioned from raids on vulnerable communities to large-scale ransom kidnapping of school students and brazen attacks on targets, including military installations, and is spreading across the board. Activities of bandits are spreading beyond North-West and North-Central to include Nigeria’s neighbour, the Niger Republic.

Data from the Nextier Violent Conflict Database shows that in 2021, there were 354 banditry incidents and 2,247 deaths in the North-West and North-Central regions.

But in the first half of 2022 alone, there were 200 banditry incidents and 1,769 deaths; and the figure is projected to exceed that of 2021. According to the report, banditry has caused the most pain as it has wreaked unimaginable havoc on people’s livelihoods and has placed the North-West and North-Central in the lead as the regions with the most violent casualties.

In the North-East, Boko Haram insurgents have continued to terrorise residents. The report revealed that in 2021, there were 64 terrorist incidents and 456 deaths in the region. But 584 persons were killed in the first half of 2022 alone and rising, exceeding the total persons killed last year.

Even though the deaths attributed to Boko Haram violence have substantially decreased since the group’s activity peaked in 2014, insurgent groups still control some communities in Northeast Nigeria and may continue to launch attacks despite facing significant resistance.

The farmer-herder clashes still persisted in the first half of 2022, with 181 persons killed from the conflict. Last year, there were 86 farmer-herder incidents and 451 deaths in Nigeria.

As insecurity continues to ravage Northern Nigeria, the South is not spared. The once peaceful South-East and parts of the South-South steadily grew into a theatre of war with attacks and clashes between the “unknown gunmen” and security agents. Secessionist struggles, cultism and communal clashes worsened. The report shows that 692 persons were killed in secessionist-related incidents in Southern Nigeria.

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Also, the number of incidents increased from 235 cases in 2021 to 259 incidents in the first half of 2022 alone.

Meanwhile, police brutality and human rights violations of various security forces have resulted in the death of 247 persons across the country. The number of persons killed in cultist activities rose from 99 in 2021 to 127 in the first six months of 2022.

The activities of the armed group continue to leave devastating impacts. The decade-old insurgency has displaced about 3 million people and caused approximately 350,000 deaths in Northeast Nigeria, according to data from the Council on Foreign Relations.

According to a report by the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, insurgents have destroyed about 254 schools in Northeast Nigeria – a situation that has forced about 120,000 students to drop out of school.

Also, according to Nextier, the impact of terrorist activities like suicide bombings, kidnappings, and the destruction of lives and livelihoods have continued to make Nigeria an undesirable destination for foreign investments.

Insecurity has greatly affected governance and economic growth in Nigeria. Available reports show that violence is having a negative economic impact on at least eight percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The factors driving insecurity still lingers. According to the Nextier report, corruption, poverty, unemployment, religious extremism, and illiteracy, injustice are among these factors. Research shows that most residents in the Northeast are impoverished and susceptible to joining terrorist groups to survive.

Beyond retaliatory engagement with non-state armed groups, the report urged the government to seek to comprehend the current dynamics of insecurity, including the proliferation of arms and armed fighters.

“This understanding should also include recent drivers of armed conflict and structural vulnerabilities that may fuel violent clashes across the country,” it read.

As the 2023 elections draw near, the report urged proactive peace-building measures and early warning mechanisms be put in place to address grievances and fierce group rivalry.

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