By Adejumo Kabir
At least 25,794 people were killed in various attacks during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari between May 2015 and May 2019, a report analysed by PREMIUM TIMES indicates.
According to available data from the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa programme which documents violence in Nigeria, “these attacks were motivated by political, economic, or social grievances”.
The data used was taken from weekly surveys of Nigerian and international media reports.
The report noted that this state of insecurity intensified from May 29, 2011, the inauguration date of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
It said the event “highlighted the increasing division of the country on regional and religious lines.”
“The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones.
“A new generation of Niger Delta militants threatens war against the state. Government soldiers kill civilians indiscriminately. Police are notorious for extrajudicial murders,” the report said.
A graphical illustration analysed by PREMIUM TIMES shows that the highest number of killings in Mr Buhari’s first tenure occurred in July 2015 with 1,299 deaths and January 2019 with 1,077 deaths.
It also said Boko Haram was responsible for the deaths of, at least, 5,598 people in the last four years while herdsmen and bandits caused the death of 4,068 persons.
The police and military also reportedly killed 4,068 people.
Despite these attacks, President Buhari and members of his cabinet insist the insecurity has been curbed and that the deadly Boko Haram has been technically defeated.
Last February, the government said what the country is now facing is a fresh crisis which it called “ global insurgency ”
The former Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, also said Nigerian troops have “successfully cleared the remnant of the home-grown insurgency called Boko Haram and are now being confronted by a fresh crisis, a global insurgency.”
“A faction of Boko Haram has aligned with the global terror group, ISIS, to form ISWAP, the Islamic State’s West African Province. In other words, ISIS now has a strong foothold in West Africa – with Nigeria at the forefront of the battle against them.
“With ISIS largely dislodged from Iraq and Syria, there is undoubtedly a flush of fresh fighters and weapons to ISWAP. Therefore, our military is fighting a global insurgency, without the kind of global coalition, including the United States, that battled ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
‘Deadly resurgence, official denial’
Media reports have revealed that there has been a resurgence in attacks on Nigerian soldiers and military formations by the insurgents since last year. The latest attack occurred a few weeks ago. Some of the victims include senior officers including a lieutenant colonel .
The military has not denied the attacks but often keeps mum about them or the casualties.
However, Mr Mohammed has said some of the videos and photos being circulated on social media purporting to show massive military casualties were “doctored by those who do not understand the fresh threat facing the country or appreciate the sacrifice of the military and their aim is to wage a campaign of disinformation against the military.”
He also said, “those involved in the act are few, and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who appreciate the patriotism and the sacrifice of the gallant military troops.”