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Five Major events that Shaped Nigeria’s security in 2021

Withdrawal of Nigerien troops from MNJTF fuels influx of weapons, terrorists in Nigeria – NAF Chief

The outgoing year 2021 will go down in history as one of the most eventful year in Nigeria’s security sector. Banditry, terrorism, kidnappings/ mass abductions, violent agitations and other criminal activities held sway across the country. The Nigerian government recent acknowledged that insecurity is the biggest challenge which the country battled in 2021. The year kicked off with so much anticipation of a more secured Nigeria following the change of service chiefs; as the year progressed, kidnappings and banditry activities deepened which eventually forced some state governments to shut down telecommunication networks to curb the spate if insecurity which claimed thousands of lives. Here are five major events that shaped Nigeria’s security in this outgoing year.

Change of security chiefs

On January 26, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari answerwd the prayers of many Nigeruams when he replaced the service chiefs. Leo Irabor was named Chief of Defence Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru became Chief of Army Staff, A. Z. Gambo became commander of the Navy, and I. O. Amao became commander of the Air Force. The replacement of the service chiefs was described as a new beginning for internal security operations in Nigeria. Citizens expressed optimism that the new service chiefs would bring new tactics, ideas and serve with more interest.

Mass Abductions in Northern Schools

Barely few weeks into 2021, Nigeria began to experience series of mass abductions by bandits targeting schools children in Northern Nigeria. From Jangebe school girls to Greenfield University, Nigerians were made to relieve the trauma of school abductions since Chibok girls. Thousands of young children were kidnapped and their parents forced to pay huge amount of money, but several others were killed in the process. This threatened progress made for school enrolment in the northern region, particularly for the girl-child.

On February 26, suspected armed bandits reportedly raided a school dormitory in Zamfara overnight kidnapping at least 317 school girls. On March 11 armed gunmen attacked Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi LGA, in Kaduna State and kidnapped 39 students. The Greenfield University kidnapping took place on April 20 when at least 20 students and 2 staff were kidnapped in Kasarami village, Chikun LGA, Kaduna State, during an attack by suspected armed bandits at Greenfield University. The remaining 14 students were released on 29 May 2021 after one month in captivity. At least five cases abductions occurred before the end of the first half of 2021. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) reports that
over 1,000 Nigerian students have been abducted and an estimated 200 students are believed to still be in captivity.

Aircraft crash kills Nigeria’s Army chief

Barely four months after appointment Nigeria’s Army Chief, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, 10 other top military officials were killed on May 21, when their plane crashed in the country’s north. The incident occurred “due to inclement weather” as the plane was landing at the Kaduna International Airport, according the Nigerian Air Force. The news came as a rude shock to many Nigerians and the country was thrown into mourning.

Prior to the crash that claimed the life of the Army Chief, Nigeria has experienced series of military aircraft crash. One of such is the Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft which crashed while returning to the Abuja airport after reporting engine failure en route to Minna. killing all seven people on board, according to officials.

Read also: How Nigerians can sing a new song in 2022

On July 18, intense gunfire from bandits caused a Nigerian fighter jet to crash in north-western Zamfara state. The Nigeria air force said the crash occurred when the Alpha jet, a light attack aircraft, was returning to base from a mission on the Zamfara-Kaduna border.

Telecommunication Shutdown in Northern States following the spate of banditry

On September 4,9, 20, and 29, 2021 telecommunication outages were recorded across at least 43 LGAs in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, and the Kaduna States. According to the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the state governments, they implemented these “temporary” measures in response to requests for this by security forces, ahead of planned operations against organized armed groups in the northwest and in a bid to cut-off communication links used by bandits in their states.

The four states also placed restrictions on travel, limiting it to mainly daylight hours, and imposed a ban on fuel purchase in some of the worst affected locations. Other measures include a ban on the felling and selling of firewood as well as the closing of some markets.

But despite these measures, bandits remained daring in their attacks according to available records. The Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor said the telecoms blackout will be maintained, because it is helping the armed forces crack down on bandits. According to Irabor, the armed forces had killed 250 bandits in the northwest since the blackouts began.

Meanwhile, these measures have resulted in a severe disruption to livelihoods including businesses and government operations. Residents of affected communities reported desperate situations where food and essential commodities were lacking and alleged extortion by security forces.

Arrival of 12 Super Tucano jets

Nigeria has taken delivery of 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets. The Federal Government had in February 2018 placed order for the jets at a cost of $496million. The jets have been described as a versatile tool, rugged, well-armoured, available with the state-of-the-art avionics, and a game-changer.

The fighter jets are expected to boost the operations of the military in its anti-terrorism war against Boko Haram and splinter group, the Islamic State in West Africa Province, in Nigeria’s North-East.

The A-29 Super Tucano is the gold standard for light attack, combat and reconnaissance aircraft. Built-in the U.S. by Sierra Nevada Corporation and its partner, Embraer Defence & Security, the A-29 has been selected by 15 Air Forces worldwide including Afghanistan and Lebanon.