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One Year in Office: Mass atrocities, insecurity spike in Nigeria

As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu clocks one year in office, security remains a major concern for many Nigerians.

According to available data, incidents of abduction, kidnapping, bandits’ attacks, Boko Haram invasions and mass killings persist.

In one year of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, data from various tracking institutions indicate an upsurge in mass killings by criminal elements, as well as other forms of criminalities.

The result is that Nigerians- young, old, rich and poor, live in fear of non-state actors who perpetrate violence on a large scale.

This situation has further been aggravated by the dwindling economic fortunes of many who can no longer provide their own security.


Verified media reports and confirmations from security agencies indicate that up to 500 persons and counting have been kidnapped in mass abductions in the Northern region, so far in 2024.

In February, 200 women and children were abducted from an Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp in Gamboru Ngala of Borno State.

In March, another abduction in Chikun, Kaduna, saw 287 schoolchildren snatched by bandits.

In the same month, 15 children were taken from a Tsangaya school in Sokoto State. Days after the Sokoto incident, armed bandits struck again in Kajuru, Kaduna, kidnapping 61 persons.

In November, coordinated attacks by armed groups saw the kidnapping of 150 persons from four villages in Zamfara State.

Reports of attacks on at least 20 communities in remote parts of Plateau State between 23 and 25 December also came to light; at least 190 people were killed in those incidents and over 300 injured.

A data source on conflict-related matters, Armed Conflict Location & Events Data, ACLED, also found that between 2019 and 2023, the North West alone recorded a total of 662 kidnapping-related incidents.

The Southeast recorded 533 insecurity-related incidents in 2023, according to ACLED, with over 224 people killed between January and May 2023 in incidents involving unknown gunmen, while the Southwest grappled with ritual and cult-related killings leading to 166 deaths as recorded in media reports.

Global Rights, an international human rights organisation, through its on-site tracking, recorded over 6,945 mass atrocities across the country in 11 months of President Tinubu’s tenure.

Between May 29, 2023, and April 23, 2024, the group found that 3,707 killings and 3,238 abductions had taken place.

Of these numbers, a minimum of 4,416 innocent civilians were killed, while 262 security personnel paid the supreme price.

Data also revealed that Zamfara State led in the number of fatal atrocities, mainly abductions at 636, while Plateau followed with 627 killings, in 2023 alone.

A recent report by Global Rights revealed that in 2023 alone, 1,781 persons were killed by bandits, 637 by ISWAP or Boko Haram, 524 died in communal clashes, 475 in herdsmen attacks and 118 political killings, among many others.

Another CSO, Nigeria Mourns, through its conflict tracking, revealed 2,423 killings and 1,872 abductions in mass atrocities-related incidents since the beginning of President Tinubu’s administration till January 26, 2024.

The fatalities as recorded by independent monitoring groups are an indication of the severity of the security situation, even data experts believe the numbers could be more.

‘‘Global Right’s data is what we call the minimum. If you look at the various data from SBM Intelligence, from Data 5, from Nestia, and others, you will see similarities.

“It just shows that even though we are all doing it independently, we are reporting the same issues. We have backup documents for all of these.

“We are not just putting out numbers, we have the locations, we have the names of victims,’’ says Edosa Oviawe, the Program Manager at Global Rights.

Amid the reign of terror before his inauguration, President Tinubu in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, promised to prioritize security.

In his words, “Security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence’’.

On January 5, when he met with security chiefs, the president also promised that ”all violent elements would be aggressively uprooted and non-state actors face justice”.

However, 5 months later, almost every Nigerian thinks the President, like his predecessors, failed in his promises.

Senator Iroegbu, a security analyst, believes security issues appear to have taken a back seat under the current administration.

In his opinion, ‘‘The research indicating that insecurity and mass atrocities have spiked to 6,945 since May 29, 2023, could hold true.”

He explained that the situation may not be deliberate but might have been forced on the administration by the realities on ground.

Iroegbu said, ‘‘You will recall that the announcement of fuel subsidy removal upon Tinubu’s assumption of office sparked a series of economic crises from which we are yet to recover.

“Consequently, over 80% of this government’s efforts have been focused on these enormous economic challenges, to the detriment of issues like insecurity.

‘‘The media have reflexively shifted their attention to these life-threatening economic issues such as inflation, electricity bills, energy insecurity, food insecurity, and other forms of taxation that have made life miserable for Nigerians.

‘‘What changed under this administration is that the worsening spate of insecurity is receiving less media prominence as attention has shifted more to economic challenges.’’

Analysts are of the opinion that while the government is focused on solving the economic problems, the country is steadily being overrun by conflict, violence and non-state actors.

Edosa Oviawe of Global Rights on his part warned that the efforts of the government may never be appreciated until and when it tackles the challenges of insecurity.

His words, ‘‘doing other things- the economy and the rest are good, but security is paramount.

”If the people are dying and are being killed, every other thing you are doing makes no sense for Nigerians.

“If he cannot live in safety, if he doesn’t have that assurance that as he steps out of his house, he is not going to become one of the numbers we are counting, then every other thing you are putting together as a government makes no meaning.’’

Another security expert, Mike Ejiofor, while acknowledging the progress so far made in the country’s security, maintains that more needs to be done.

He explained that, ‘‘The fact remains that on average, I think we have done well, the security situation has improved.

“Even though we still have a lot of security issues virtually everywhere across the country, I will say that progress has been made, especially in the Northeast, like Borno.

‘‘The issue of IPOB and kidnapping is still pervading the Southeast, there are also pockets of clashes in the Southwest.

“Even though the President is from the Southwest, you see some people agitating for the republic of Oduduwa, which shows that we still have some challenges.

‘‘The only way we can come out of it is to improve the security situation.

“People are worried because there’s no way we can get development without security, otherwise, when you look at other sectors of the polity and economy, we have not fared better but people are more worried about insecurity.”

Ejiofor, however, does not agree that security has been given a back seat by the current administration, pointing out that security has the largest chunk of the current national budget.

‘‘It is wrong to say the government is not taking the issue of insecurity seriously.

“We have a lot of challenges in funding, not just in security, there is a lot of corruption and misappropriation of funds in various sectors.

“Even though we say funding is not sufficient, if we judiciously apply what we have, we would have fared better in security.”


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