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Insecurity: Timeline of Buhari’s condolences in one year

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HOURS after 60 vigilantes reportedly died from bandits’ attack in communities in Sakaba/Wassagu LGA of Kebbi State in March, President Muhammadu Buhari commiserated with the state and promised to intensify his administration’s effort to defeat the ‘monsters’.

A day after he made the promise, bandits were reported to have massacred 16 soldiers, one policeman and an unspecified number of civilians in the area.

The latter attack occurred when the state Deputy Governor Samaila Yombe paid a condolence visit to Kanya, one of the communities where the bandits had killed scores of vigilantes.

A file picture of some bandits arrested along Abuja-Kaduna express road.
A file picture of some bandits arrested along Abuja-Kaduna express road.

Yombe, a retired colonel, was accompanied by the Commanding Officer, Zuru Army Barracks, in the state when the assailants felled many of the soldiers in his escort and other civilians. The deputy governor escaped by a whisker.

Since he assumed office on May 29, 2015, Buhari has issued scores of condolences in reaction to attacks by terrorists, bandits and other gunmen.

The tradition always goes with assurances that the end of the criminals is near. 

Buhari inherited a security-compromised nation from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, but many pundits believe the situation has not improved.

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The president’s condolences usually come from either his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina or his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Despite his assurances to end the menace, attacks keep recurring, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people in the country yearly.

Checks by The ICIR showed that Buhari had issued more than a dozen condolences to families of victims of attacks in the country in the past 12 months.

Similarly, a  report credited to SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focused geopolitical research firm, says Nigeria lost 10,366 persons to insecurity in 2021.

Dateline of condolences  in the last 12 months  -March 2021 to March 2022

On March 9, the president commiserated with families of scores of vigilante members who were ambushed and killed by bandits in the Sakaba/Wassagu Local Government Area Kebbi State the previous day.

Burial of those killed in Zamfara State by suspected bandits. File Photo

Bandits had attacked communities in Tsafe Local Government Area in Zamfara State on January 23, killing nine.

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Two months before then, the gunmen had killed 14 people in the state. Attacks on the state have been persistent, and they always come with high casualties and abductions for ransom. 

Buhari promised to visit the state on January 27. He never did. He blamed the failure on poor weather. He then sent a video of his broadcast containing his government’s assurances to defeat the criminals and sympathy to the state.

On December 13, while receiving the governor of Sokoto State, Amina Tambuwal, who visited to brief him of the security situation in his state at the State House, the president sympathised with the people of the state over attacks by bandits and restated his commitment to ending the menace.

He had commiserated with the state three days before then over gunmen’s attack on the state. 

PIC. Soldiers of 3 Armoured Div., Nigeria Army, Performing range classification at Miango Range in Jos on Wednesday 10/4/13

On January 27, the president again gave the assurance on the return to peace while commiserating with the Sultan of Sokoto over the loss of lives and property by bandits and other criminal gangs in the state.

In the Sultan visitors’ register, the president wrote: “My condolences to the Sultanate, the Government, and people of Sokoto State over the recent mindless killings by bandits and terrorists. Nigeria shall win the battle over evil.”

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In another message, the president commiserated with the bandits’ attack victims in Kaduna State on December 19. 

“The President reiterated the administration’s will to work with all members of the society to rid the country of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers,” part of a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, read.

On September 29, Buhari commiserated with the family of the late Chike Akunyili, husband of the late Dora Akunyili, a former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) who was murdered by gunmen.

While charging the security agencies to strengthen efforts in fighting criminals, he vowed that the government would bring Akunyili killers to book.

He issued another condolence on August 30, following the death of captain Abdulkareem, the son of the senator representing Kebbi South, Bala Na’allah, in Kaduna by gunmen.

“The death of Abdulkareem is another tragic chapter in our current security challenges, but I reassure Nigerians that my commitment to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians remains unwavering,” the president said in a statement signed by Garba Shehu.

Abducted students of Afaka in Kaduna

On April 5, 2021, the president mourned the leader of the Myetti Allah group, Muhammed Husaini, who was among the persons murdered in Nasarawa State that month by gunmen.

On April 3, the president condemned terrorists’ attacks on communities in Ebonyi and Anambra states. He also commiserated with the victims’ relations.

The president also sympathised with relations of children abducted and those killed at the Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government, Niger State on February 17, 2021.

There are other condolence messages addressed to relations of individuals who were victims of vicious attacks in the country. An example is the late five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar, who was reported to have been killed by her teacher in Kano.

Some data on insecurity in Nigeria in 2021

 report credited to SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focused geopolitical research firm, says Nigeria lost 10,366 persons to insecurity in 2021.

Another report noted that 14 people died daily because of insecurity the same year.

According to the state government, in 2021, bandits killed 1,192 and kidnapped 3,348 people in Kaduna alone.

Those kidnapped include 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in the state in April.

Victims of attacks converge as internally displaced persons, IDPs

About 23 persons kidnapped by gunmen in April at the Greenfield University in Kaduna were part of the number.

Similarly, the government captured the 27 children whisked away from school by terrorists at the Government Science College, Kagara, Nigeria State in the data.

In July that year, gunmen stormed the Federal College Yauri, Kebbi State, and kidnapped an unspecified number of students.

The Punch reported how 175 soldiers and cops died in 72 attacks in the South-East within six months that year.

In October, bandits stormed a market in Sokoto State and killed 30 persons.

There have been bloodbaths resulting from insecurity in Niger, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ondo, Ogun, among others. 

The most recent trend in the nation’s insecurity is the killing for ritual, a practice that is rife in the South of Nigeria.

At 146th out of 163 nations, Nigeria ranked low on the global peace index in 2021.

The United Nations Children Fund said that year that one million children in Nigeria would miss school because of “mass kidnapping.”

Results from Buhari’s efforts

Buhari inherited a war-torn North-East of the nation from his predecessor. In recent months, hundreds of the terrorists have reportedly surrendered to the nation’s military’s superior powers.

But the rise in banditry, kidnapping in the North-West and killings in the South-East by gunmen, including other pockets of crisis in parts of the country, have frustrated the president’s campaign promise to restore peace to the nation.

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