Nigerian security services have deliberately killed thousands of civilians in the last eight years in an entrenched culture of violence, a new report by a France-based research institute has said.
The French Institute for Research in Africa said the Nigerian police, military, State Security Services are “are trigger-happy and unable to maintain law and order professionally and peacefully” and that the more they intervene in civilian conflicts, protests or demonstrations, the bloodier the fighting.
“The police, for instance, killed in 1,561 of 2,707 lethal incidents where it intervened in 2006–2014, an annual average of 58% lethal interventions that peaked at 80% in 2013–2014,” the report states.
It adds that “the proportion is quite similar (57%) if we take into account all government security forces for the period 2006–2014, including the army, the secret services, customs, immigration, and civil defence.”
The study accused the security agencies of deliberate violence against civilians.
“The pattern is too systematic to permit us think that this so-called “collateral damage” consisted of unfortunate mistakes. It has much more to do with a general culture of violence and impunity within the security forces,” the report said.
Main causes of violent deaths in Nigeria
The report said the main causes of violent deaths in Nigeria between 2006 -2014 were accidents, crime, political clashes, and ethno-religious fighting.
The study identified 60,858 violent deaths in Nigeria in eight years with road accidents responsible for most deaths.
In 2014, however, the pattern changed because of the Boko Haram crisis in the North-East, the report states.
It said at the national level, political clashes, religious fighting, and crime became the main causes of violent deaths after emergency rule was put in place in May 2013.
The report said besides Boko Haram, “accidents” are by far the main cause of violent deaths in Nigeria.
“Cars are responsible for most fatalities, followed by fires and explosions, other accidents (plane crash, boat mishap, animal attack, electrocution, drowning, suffocation, building collapse), and natural disasters,” it said.
Lagos accounted for the highest number of road fatalities. The report however noted that there has been improvement due to the policy put in place by Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State.
The report said Abuja, the Nigerian capital, has a higher risk of road accident when compared with the number of inhabitants of the city.
“This might be because people drive faster. Abuja has larger avenues and fewer traffic jams than Lagos. Moreover, the Capital Territory ranks second or third regarding the registration of new vehicles and the issue of drivers’ licences in the Federation,” it said.
The report identified crime as the second major cause of violent deaths.
The report said while crime is more concentrated in the Southern states like Lagos and Rivers State, Plateau State also recorded higher crime rates.
Boko Haram’s bloody campaigns changed all that with Borno State becoming the most the most insecure place in Nigeria, the report stated.
It also recognised Sokoto and Jigawa as northern states with the lowest homicide rate, while, Ekiti, Osun, and Akwa Ibom states recorded the lowest homicide rates in the South.