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2,707 civilians killed in 2019 from 3,188 total deaths caused by insecurity in Nigeria – Report

Ex-NHRC Boss:  Nigeria suffering from governance crisis, misplaced priorities   

NOT fewer than 2,707 civilians were killed in 2019, a new report made public by Global Rights on Wednesday has revealed.

Aside from the civilian casualties, 481 security agents also died, totalled 3,188 due to spate of insecurity in the country last year.

The report titled, Mass Atrocities Casualties Tracking 2019, attributed the killings which occurred between January and December 2019 to violent incidents from the Boko Haram insurgency or Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacks, extra-judicial killings, resource crises, gang clashes and kidnapping.

Borno state in the North East, however, ranked top among states with the highest number of casualties, followed by Zamfara, then Kaduna, Katsina states while Abia recorded the least casualties.

“Our tracking of casualties of conflicts, violent clashes and extra-judicial killings across Nigeria fro 2019 informs that at least 3188 lives were lost between January to December 2019 as a result of violent incidents,” the report stated.

“Of the above number, 2707 were civilians, while 481 were security agents.”

“In other words, for every 5.5 deaths recorded, at least 1 of them was a security officer.”

The spate of insecurity in Nigeria has, in recent time, been an issue of serious concerns to the citizens and foreign nations.

International organisations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International, among others also have expressed worry on the rising number of casualties, including cases of abuse of human rights, kidnapping and banditry among other security challenges.

The state of insecurity has led to the creation of Western Nigeria Security Network, mostly known as Amotekun Corps, and proposal of other security apparatus in other regions.

However, further breakdown of the trend of killings and causality figures revealed 728 deaths in Borno, 450 in Zamfara, 280 in Kaduna, 254 in Katsina and 181 in Taraba state.

River state recorded 176 deaths, 167 in Benue, 100 casualties were recorded in Niger, 90 in Sokoto and 88 in Kogi State. Lagos State had 56 deaths, followed by Plateau (52), 43 casualties were recorded in Adamawa and 42 in Bayelsa State.

In Yobe state 39 deaths were recorded, Edo had 37 casualties, Crossriver had 35, 33 casualties were recorded in Ondo, 32 in Anambra and Delta states, 30 in Imo and Jigawa while FCT had 28 deaths.

Other states with casualty figures are Nasarawa and Ebonyi (27), Osun (24), Ogun (23), Akwa Ibom (19), Oyo (11), Ekiti (10), Gombe (10), Kano (9), Bauchi (8), Kwara (7), Kebbi (5), Enugu (4) and Abia State (1).

According to the 2019 mass atrocities report, banditry claimed the highest number of deaths – 1075, Boko Haram had 702, electoral violence so claimed 605 followed by 343 cases of isolated killings, 167 gang clashes, 117 killings from abductions and 62 deaths caused by pastoral/farmers conflict.

Other categories are communal clashes which claimed 59 lives, extrajudicial killings (27), 21 persons killed via mob action and 10 others died due to pirate attacks.

Moreover, among the 481 security operatives killed in 2019, the report says 327 were soldiers, 63 were police officer, 40 NDLEA officers, 40 Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officers, six Nigerian Customs Officers and five Naval officers.

“The month of June recorded the highest number of deaths with at least 504 lives lost. Of this number, at least 51 were security agents (42 soldiers, five police officers, three NSCDC officers and one Custom officer),” the report added.

In his reaction, Chidi Odinkalu, former Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) blamed the killings on poor governance and misplaced priorities on the part of the government.

He said the data has proven inability of the federal government to secure large territories, particularly Borno, Kaduna, Niger states where casualties were high.

“The landmass problem in northern Nigeria is a problem of ungoverned spaces,” Odinkalu stated. “Nigeria’s insecurity problem is a governance problem. So, there is a need to extend governance to ungoverned spaces within the territory.

“If we don’t address the problem of ungoverned states, we will continue to have these problems. What it also means is that N1 stolen from the public purse in northern Nigeria in those states with big landmass is worth much more than N1 stolen from states with small landmass because every money stolen, you damage the capacity of government to go beyond the governed spaces.”

He, however, attributed these reasons to why the military is unable to protect the entire Borno state as expected.

In her remarks, Aisha Yesufu advocated that the same level of protection accorded to the President should be for every Nigerians.

She advised Nigerians to fight against impunity and demand from government absolute right of protection.

“We have to say enough is enough. We have to say our lives are important. I know it is good to fast and pray and visit churches and mosques but it is not enough,” she noted. “As we look at this report, let’s be selfish about it. I don’t want to be a victim in a country I won’t be recognised.”

Other dignitaries that attended the event are Dayo Aiyetan, Executive Director of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR); Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director of Global Rights; Col. Ademola Lawal, a representative from the Savannah Centre for Democracy, Diplomacy and Development (SCDDD); Ariyo Dare and Jaiye Gaskia of Praxis Centre.

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