Factcheck: Is Nigeria Truly Ranked World’s Second Most Unsafe Country?

While the report referenced does not expressly rank countries according to security, an analysis of data collected by the publishers provided answers.

Among other claims made, a Twitter user, Tocos4 (@Tocos4), on March 31, 2022 stated that the Cato Institute ranks Nigeria “161 out of 162 in security and safety” — in a post that has attracted over 260 likes and has been shared over 460 times. Checks by HumAngle showed the claim to be true.

Established in 1977, the Cato Institute is a Washington DC-based public policy research organisation that gathers information on and advocates for individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.

The group has published various journals, reviews, handbooks, and policy reports. It has also co-published the Human Freedom Index every year since 2015 with the Fraser Institute. The index “presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom”.

The index measures a broad range of issues. Under economic freedom, it takes a look at government size, legal system and property rights, money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation. Under personal freedom, it assesses rule of law, movement, religious freedom, freedom of association and assembly, expression and information, and identity and relationships, as well as security and safety.

The indices for security are further broken down into homicide, disappearances, violent conflicts, organised conflicts, terrorism fatalities and injuries, and then freedom from torture and political killings.

“The security and safety category measures actual crimes committed. It attempts to measure the degree to which people who have not violated the equal rights of others are physically assaulted, kidnapped, or killed, or their physical integrity or safety is otherwise violated,” the institute explains in its latest report.

“Whether perpetrated by ordinary criminals, governments, organised gangs, political groups, or individuals following tradition, crime and physical transgressions reduce personal freedom in any society.”

The Human Freedom Index report released in 2021 contains information for 2019, explaining that this is “the most recent year for which sufficient data are available”. It generally ranks Nigeria 123rd out of 165 countries based on its evaluation of personal, economic, and human freedoms in the country.

The report does not specifically rank countries according to security and safety, and only assigns scores, ranging from 0 to 10, to the countries.

Analysis of the scores of all 165 countries by HumAngle revealed that Nigeria had the second-lowest grade for safety and security, scoring 2.35 out of 10. Iraq is the only country to have performed worse with a score of 1.22.

Following Nigeria are Venezuela, Colombia, the Central African Republic, El Salvador, Lesotho, Mexico, Yemen, and South Africa.

Nigeria’s score on the safety and security index dropped sharply between 2008 and 2019 from as high as 7.14 to 2.35. It was at its lowest point in 2016 when the country had a score of 1.57.

So, while Nigeria is considered the second-worst country according to the Cato Institute’s report, the claim stated that the country was ranked 161st out of 162 countries, rather than 164th out of a total of 165 countries.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is similarly ranked badly on other security-related reports.

The country is ranked 146th out of 163 countries on the 2021 Global Peace Index and the sixth most terrorist country in the world out of the same number of countries on the Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP).

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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One Comment

  1. Whether from a look at the economy or security, it is clear that Nigeria needs some help. With good and integrous leadership across all arms and tiers of government, things can change. A country is not built in a day, by we must start well today if we want a better tomorrow.

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