The 2022 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report has some cheery news about Nigeria – attacks by the deadly terror group, Boko Haram, appears to have declined in the country, as the group is now preoccupied with attacks on neighbouring West African countries.
Nigeria has also gone down to the sixth position globally, among the countries that have been hard hit by terrorism in 2021, according to the report. It had occupied the third position for more than three years before now.
Afghanistan tops the list of countries most impacted by terrorism in 2021, followed by Iraq and Somalia.
The fourth and fifth positions are occupied by Burkina Faso and Syria.
Boko Haram, for more than a decade, has been waging an armed insurgency against Nigeria, especially in the country’s North-east region, leading to loss of thousands of lives.
The GTI report, released on Wednesday, said Boko Haram was responsible for only 69 deaths in Nigeria in 2021, a decrease of 77 per cent from the previous year.
“This is the lowest number of deaths by the group for a decade,” the report said.
Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 448 in 2021, the lowest level since 2011, according to the report.
The report, however, said the number of terrorist attacks increased by 49 per cent between 2020 and 2021.
“36 per cent of attacks were claimed by ISWA, Boko Haram being responsible for eight per cent and 44 per cent not attributed to any group,” it added.
The report attributed Boko Haram’s decline to the attacks against it by a rival terror group, Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), and the counter-terrorism efforts of the Nigerian government and foreign military forces.
“Attacks by ISWA as well as counter-terrorism efforts by the Nigerian government and foreign military forces have significantly weakened Boko Haram’s impact in Nigeria.
“These external pressures resulted in an increase in Boko Haram attacks in neighbouring countries, particularly Cameroon which recorded 37 attacks and 58 deaths in 2021.
“Cameroon recorded more Boko Haram attacks than Nigeria in 2021 for the second consecutive year,” the report said.
The report also said the death of Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, significantly affected the group.
“Boko Haram’s decline coincides with a number of factors, most significantly the death of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, who committed suicide by detonating an explosives vest during a confrontation with ISWA in May 2021.
“Given the demise of their leader, Shekau’s followers were faced with the decision to either continue Shekau’s ideology or join ISWA. It has been reported that as many as 18 former Boko Haram commanders have joined ISWA after Shekau’s death,” the report said.
Although it has overtaken Boko Haram in terms of the number of terror attacks, “the lethality of ISWA attacks has continued to decline from 10 deaths per attack in 2018 to almost three deaths per attack in 2021,” the report said.
“ISWA was responsible for Nigeria’s deadliest attack of 2021, with gunmen killing over 30 soldiers at an army base in the Borno region.
“ISWA’s main target continues to be military personnel, with the military being the target of over half of all attacks, resulting in 45 per cent of casualties attributed to the group in 2021.
“Despite the civilian death toll decreasing, ISWA continues to increase its attacks on civilians, from 11 in 2020 to 19 in 2021.”
Rise of IPOB
The GTI report attributed the increase in attacks on police and other security agencies in Nigeria to clashes between law enforcement and the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“Law enforcement, including police and prison officers overtook both military and civilians as the most targeted group of 2021. Attacks against police and prisons increased substantially from one recorded attack in 2020 to 75 in 2021, accounting for over a third of all attacks in Nigeria in 2021.
“This was largely driven by an increase in clashes between law enforcement and separatist groups, such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).”
IPOB, an outlawed group, is leading the agitation for the creation of an independent state, Biafra, to be carved out from Nigeria’s South-east and parts of the South-south.
The IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu has been detained in Abuja where he is standing trial for alleged treasonable felony and terrorism.
The GTI report, which is in its ninth edition, tracks terrorism incidents across the world.
It is produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank which is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999