At least 1,416 lives have been lost to violence in the first quarter of this year in Nigeria, a new report by Global Rights Nigeria has revealed.
These are unrelated to deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging almost all the 36 states of the country. Nigeria’s coronavirus-related deaths stood at 171 as of Saturday evening.
The report said no fewer than 1,141 civilians and 275 security agents were killed between January and April — totalling 1,416, due to the increasing spate of insecurity in the country.
Among the 275 security operatives killed in the first quarter, 219 were soldiers, 43 were police officers, eight were naval officers, three were customs officers and two were of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
“Within the first four months of 2020, at least 1,416 lives have been lost to violent killings in Nigeria. Yet, Nigeria is not at war,” Global Rights said in the report.
The report titled “Mass Atrocities Casualties Tracking 2020” attributed the majority of civilian casualties to banditry in the Northern part, followed by the Boko Haram insurgency or Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacks.
Other sources of violent death include cult clashes, herdsmen attacks, extra-judicial killings, communal clashes, political violence, pirate attacks, mob action and isolated deaths.
Insurgency-ravaged Borno State in the North-east ranked top among states with the highest number of casualties, followed by Kaduna, Katsina and Plateau states while Kwara and Bauchi recorded the least casualties.
Further breakdown of the trend of killings revealed 342 deaths in Borno – the highest in Northeast, 72 in Yobe, 34 in Taraba, 21 in Adamawa and Bauchi (1) .
Kaduna State recorded the highest deaths in Northwest with 198, followed by Katsina (139), Zamfara (77), Sokoto (22) , Kano (10) While Jigawa recorded the least in the region—3.
In North Central, Plateau, which is the hotpot of ethnic conflicts, has the highest casualties in the region with 92 deaths, followed by the banditry-ravaging Niger State with 90 deaths. Others include: 48 deaths in Kogi, 19 in Benue, four in Nasarawa with Kwara recording the least in the region—one death.
Topping the list in the South-south is Delta State with 57 deaths, followed by Edo (25), Rivers (24), Bayelsa (19), Cross River (12) and Akwa Ibom (five).
In Southwest, Ondo and Lagos states recorded 15 and 14 deaths respectively. Ogun recorded eight deaths, then Ekiti (five), Oyo (four) and Osun (three).
Southeastern states with casualty figures are Anambra State (18), Abia (12), Ebonyi(11) and Imo (four).
According to the report, banditry/pillage claimed the highest number of deaths –776; Boko Haram/ISWAP killed 342; cult clashes claimed 69 lives; herdsmen atrocities killed 58; followed by 56 cases of extra-judicial killings while communal clashes caused 55 deaths.
Other categories are isolated deaths which claimed 47 lives, political violence (6), pirate attacks (4) and mob action (3).
Global Rights Nigeria describes itself as a “Human Rights organization working to build grassroots movements that promote and protect the rights of marginalized populations.”
The spate of insecurity in Nigeria has drawn grave concerns from the citizens and the international communities, especially over the decade-long terror caused by Boko Haram insurgents.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has caused the death of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of others, mainly in Northeastern Nigeria.
The terrorists have been restricted to Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by the security forces since 2016.
International organisations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International have expressed worry on the rising number of casualties, including the rise of other violent crimes like banditry, kidnapping and human rights abuse among other security challenges.
The worrisome state of security in the country has led some regions to consider individual security apparatus such as the Western Nigeria Security Network known as Amotekun Corps.
‘Mark of failure’
According to the deputy director, Institute of Peace and Governance, Ekiti State University, Azeez Olaniyan, the increasing spate of insecurity in the country signposts the failure of the state to protect its citizens
“It means the country is not secure and that life is very cheap. In a way, it signposts a reverse to the state of nature which Thomas Hobbes captures as one where life is poor, nasty, brutish and short.
“It is a mark of failure, because the primary duty of the state is to secure life and property. Once a state fails to discharge this primary duty, then we say such a state is weak. So, you can say that, based on the level of insecurity in the land, Nigeria is a weak state,” he said.
He said most violent crimes are caused by unemployment, adding “there is a linkage between joblessness and criminal activities.”
One major way to tackle crimes, he said, is to get the youth engaged in productive activities.
He called for technologically equipped training for the security forces.
“You fight crime through technology and intelligence gathering,” he said.