Did the Nigerian Armed Forces curtail insecurity as Lucky Irabor claimed? Here is what data say

On Friday, June 30, FORMER Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor said that the Armed Force had curtailed insecurity challenges in the country under his leadership.

Lucky Irabor was at  appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in January, 2021 and sacked  sacked on Monday, June 19 by President Bola Tinubu along with the other service  chiefs.

Speaking at the pulling-out ceremony held in his honour, the former Chief of Defence Staff noted that the Armed Force had mitigated the threat of terrorism and decreased the level of insecurity in Nigeria.

Stressing that President Ahmed Tinubu would grapple with nation building and national security challenges, Irabor noted he is leaving the Armed Force of Nigeria bigger, stronger and more capable.

“I make bold to say that I’m leaving the armed forces of Nigeria today,bigger,stronger and more capable to deliver on its constitutional mandate and national security functions.

“In more specific terms we have significantly curtailed the threats of terrorism, insurgency, piracy, sea robberies, vandalism of critical national assets and kidnappings, and the military aid to civil authority role.

“We successfully work in conjunction with other security agencies and stakeholders to deliver a physical security environment that is amenable for Law and Order, critical democratic processes as well as human security and national development,” Irabor stressed.

Months earlier, the EX-CDS (then CDS) boasted that the military had recorded landmark successes in the fight against terrorism and curbed insurgency.

Delivering a lecture titled “National Defence Policy and Transitional Justice Approach in the War Against Insurgency in Nigeria” in Edo state, Irabor said that among the 51,828 Boko Haram that surrendered, 13,360 are fighters.”

Irabor had revealed that no fewer than 51,828 Boko Haram terrorists and their family members surrendered to the Federal Government of Nigeria between July 2021 and May 2022. 

Contrary to the claim of the EX-CDS that terrorism and insecurity activities reduced during the period of his leadership, statistics shows an increment.

To find out if the military has significantly curtailed insecurity since Irabor’s assumption in office  from 2021 till 2023; The ICIR used Data gathered from  SBMIntel, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), Nigeria Mourns and the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST)  to fact-check Irabor’s claim that he had significantly curtailed insecurity.

The ICIR analysed number of violent incidents gathered by SBMIntel, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), Nigeria Mourns and the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST).

The ICIR earlier reported major issues on insecurity as Buhari’s administration wind  down its eight years tenure of leadership.

Documenting attacks on security personnels, it  identified cattle rustling as a significant contributor to rising insecurity in the country.

Showing that the insecurity challenges had caused displacement of thousands of Nigerians, it maintained insecurity is one of the major challenges of Buhari’s administration.

Did the Nigerian Armed Forces curtail insecurity as Lucky Irabor claimed? Here is what data state

A way to weigh improved security architecture is through either increase or decrease in the number of violent incidents recorded within the period of his leadership, as well as recorded death.

Nigeria Mourns, reported that 3,188 people lost their lives in violence attacks between January to December 2019.

These include lives lost during such as gang wars, clashes, extra-judicial killings, resource crisis, kidnappings and Boko-Haram/ ISWAP attacks.

It stated that 2,707  killed were civilians, while 481 were state security agents.

According to the SBMintel Quarterly Media Killing Report gathered between January to December 2020 not less than 7,070 incidents of armed violence were reported.

In the years that followed, SBMintel records 10,366 and 7,728 in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

By end of December 2022, the mortality rate of armed violent incidents have skyrocketed drastically.

A critical evaluation of the figures and compilation revealed that over 18,000 deaths were recorded in violent incidents including attacks from Boko Haram, militia herdsmen, abduction and gang clashes since 2021.

Similarly, despite the spread of insecurity and insurgency in the Northeast, ACLED data indicated that deaths registered from violent incidents between 2019 and 2020 totalled 14,407 is relatively low compared to the registered mortality rate between 2021 and 2022 (21,641).

ACLED pointed out that the mortality rate increased by 50.2% within two years as a result of insecurity.

However, NST data shows a total number of 8,340 and 9,694 people died from insecurity in 2019 and 2020 respectively, the record of mortality in 2021 shot up to 10,398 while it never decreased below nine thousand (9,080) in 2022.

Kidnapping: what has happened?

Bandits and terrorists in northern Nigeria; Niger Delta insurgents; as well as ritual killers in the west and east; have all continued to practice kidnapping, banditry, or abduction.

Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) showed a rising trend in the frequency of mass kidnappings and the overall number of kidnapping victims in the nation by analysing data gathered

Between 2019 to 2020 (two years before Irabor’s appointment); NST recorded 1,441 and 2,879 victims of kidnapping respectively.

The following, two years under the leadership of the EX-CDS Lucky Irabor administration’s leadership; Nigeria witnessed a spike in the number of mass abduction and the reign of kidnapping continues.

NST data showed that  almost 10,000 people fell into the net of kidnappers in 2021 and 2022.

Noting that 5,287 and 4,680 victims were recorded for the two years respectively, data shows that the rate of kidnapping had doubled.

As cited in Punch, a security report by Beacon Intel recorded that 7,92 persons were kidnapped in the first quarter of 2023.

This study covered the abduction recorded from January to March this year.

One of the major kidnapping cases during Irabor leadership was the abduction of Abuja-Kaduna train passengers.



    Terrorists attacked the train on March 28 and killed an unspecified number of passengers before abducting dozens of others to an unidentified location, according to The ICIR.

    After months of negotiations between the federal government, victims’ families and terrorists, the abducted were finally released.

    Announcing the release, then minister of Transportation Mu’azu Sambo said, “I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 16:00hrs (4:00 pm) today, Wednesday 5-10-22, the seven-man Presidential Committee assembled by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Leo Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022.

    “The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian military under the leadership of the CDS, who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish. All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this operation.

    Stories with punches holding the powerful accountable. His determination to speak out against corruption and influence the conversation in Nigeria, the surrounding region and the continent inspires him.

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