Nigeria saw a decrease in security attacks and fatalities in April, owing to the government’s efforts to combat threats.
According to a report by top security outfit, Beacon Consulting, Nigeria recorded 382 incidents that resulted in 302 abductions and 706 fatalities in 180 local government areas in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
A breakdown shows that 195 (27.6%) fatalities occurred in the North Central, 176 (24.9%) in the North West, 146 (20.7%) in North East, 85 (12%) in South West, 58 (8.2%) in the South East and 46 (6.1%) in the South South. The North constituted 73.2% of the total fatalities for April 2023. The top 3 states with the highest fatalities were Borno with 100 fatalities, Benue with 85 and Kaduna with 63.
A total of 139 abductions (46%) were recorded in the North Central, 126 (41.7%) in the North West and 14 (4.6%) in South South. Others were the South West with 13 abductions (4.3%), North East and South East had 5 (1.7%) each. The North constituted 89.4% of the total abductions for April 2023.
However, a month-to-month analysis of the figures shows a significant decrease of 26.6% in abductions and 25.9% decrease in fatalities. Nigeria had recorded 411 abductions and 954 fatalities in March.
A comparison of the incidents that occurred in April 2022 and April 2023 shows a 20.4% decrease (480 → 382), a 52.3% decrease in abductions (633 → 302), and a 50.8% decrease in fatalities (1434→ 706).
The report, which noted that the month of April was dominated by a continuation of transition activities following the conclusion of the general elections in February and March 2023, added that it coincided with a concerted effort by the security forces to provide the right environment for a peaceful and seamless transition and a continuation of the federal and state governments’ efforts to address the security challenges in the country using mainly security forces operations.
“In April 2023, the government’s efforts led to a reduction in security incidents, fatalities, and abductions compared with the figures for March 2023,” it noted.
According to the report, President Muhammadu Buhari listed some of the efforts of his administration in tackling insecurity to include the recruitment of more than 60,000 soldiers from Depot Nigerian Army, apart from the thousands commissioned from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), and implementation of a welfare system that has provided army scholarships to over 50,000 children and wards of personnel who died in active service, from 2015 to date.
The president also stated that the Nigerian Army acquired hundreds of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, Troops Carrying Vehicles, Utility Vehicles, Tanks, Armoured Personnel Carriers, in addition to large numbers of supporting artillery guns, machine guns, rifles, and ammunition.
The president who spoke at the Trooping and Presentation of Colours Parade by the Nigerian Army in Abuja noted that there has been remarkable progress in the fight against insurgents, militants, oil bunkers, kidnappers and other criminal elements, particularly in the North East. Buhari also reiterated his administration’s commitment to strengthen the equipment repository including the fighting power, training, operations, manpower, remunerations and medical services of the military, which he indicated had increased tremendously under his leadership.
The report also observed that during the monitored period, the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force made efforts towards fostering reforms in the policing system, including improving the welfare and structural operations of its officers, in hopes of ensuring better coordination in their constitutional duties of ensuring peace and order in the country.
However, it noted that, “Most Nigerians have not been able to relate to the remarkable efforts of the Buhari administration in improving the equipment repository, welfare and training of the armed forces and other security and intelligence organisations in the country due to the burgeoning security challenges and the high number of insecurity-caused deaths in the country. It is further assessed as credible that for the ongoing discussions within the transition council on improving security and achieving the aspirations of the human security imperatives contained in Nigeria’s revised National Security Strategy 2019, the twin issues of security sector reform and security sector governance need to be fully addressed at both the national and subnational levels.”
In analysing the security threats in April, the report noticed a decline in politically motivated incidents and targeted attacks on security forces formations and operatives in the South East. It attributed the decrease in security incidents; abductions and fatalities to a reduction in the activities of criminal gangs and non-state armed groups, including the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), as well as the several other factions of these two groups, including the amorphous “Unknown Gunmen”.
The report noted that the number of fatalities and abductions in the South South zone increased by 6.97% and 55.56% respectively in April when compared to the figures of March. The region also recorded security forces’ operations and several violent criminal activities along travel routes in Delta and Edo states, including the Benin by-pass along the Lagos – Onitsha expressway and Lokoja – Auchi road. Other threat factors monitored in the region included the intensification of the armed conflict between security forces and militant groups associated with illegal bunkering, and other criminal activities in Bayelsa and Rivers states.
The North Central and North West zones witnessed the spread of violent criminal activities by non-state armed groups, crime syndicates, and youth gangs amid ongoing security forces operations. Other monitored trends included attacks on commuters and rural communities, especially in the surrounding areas of Kaduna State and along several routes in Sokoto, Niger, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, and Kano states, including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
Most of the incidents are attributable to itinerant gunmen who have been dislodged from their camps as a result of security forces operations, it noted.
In the North East, there was a continuation of Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) activities targeting security forces formation and personnel on patrol, vulnerable communities especially those outside fortress towns and in the vicinity of Sambisa Forest and Mandara Mountains as well as the Lake Chad Basin Islands.
Other incidents monitored in the period include the armed conflict between security forces and members of the Jamatul Ahlis Sunna lil Dawatil wal Jihad (JAS) and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and intensified operations by security forces in the North East geopolitical region.
In the period under review, there was a trend of low-level political violence, violent and opportunistic crimes, gang violence, and intensified security forces operations in the South West region.
Projections and counsel to incoming administration
The report projected that the dislodgement of gunmen from bases and camps due to the ongoing interdiction operations by the security forces in North East, North Central, and North West will lead to further unwarranted one-off attacks against defenceless communities in these and neighbouring regions. It also opined that political violence localised to political events and gatherings will continue as preparations continue for off-cycle elections in some states and the political party events in the post-general elections period as well as preparations for the swearing-in on May 29.
Criminal activities including kidnap for ransom, violent and petty crimes as well as home invasions are likely to continue in the short and medium terms due to the deteriorating economic circumstances of the country and rising inflation.
It added that a continuation of non-state actors’ activities challenging the supremacy of the state’s monopoly of force and sustenance of their attacks on communities, including kidnap for ransom and raids, will push communities to evolve self-help initiatives, including protests, where they block access routes and arm themselves.
The security consulting firm thus urged that for the government efforts to decrease the ability of non-state actors to challenge the supremacy of the use of force by the state to be sustainable, the federal and state governments need to enhance collaboration for enhanced administration of criminal justice and the restoration of social order by addressing the root causes of these challenges including socio-economic grievances, unemployment and the effects of climate change as well as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Other measures include the need for the federal and state governments to collaborate in dominating the forested and other ungoverned spaces, which the bandits use as safe havens and to keep their victims.
The lead author of the report, Dr Kabir Adamu, in a telephone interview, called on the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to avail himself of top confidential security reports, identify the structural issues of insecurity and address them.
“The incoming administration needs to take note of the structural issues that lead to insecurity. It should not manage the symptoms but identify the issues and address them at both the federal and subnational,” the Security Risk Management and Intelligence Specialist added.