As many as 9,076 lives were lost to the violent incidents that unsettled Nigeria last year, and 4,680 people were victims of abduction.
These figures are based on an analysis of data collected by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), which has monitored insecurity in the country since 2011 through local press reports.
While they show a dip in the number of victims of violence when compared to similar data compiled for 2021, zooming further out shows that insecurity is still generally on the rise in the West African country.
The fatalities are the third-highest recorded within the last five years, while the number of abduction victims is much higher than those documented before 2021.
Some of the most notorious incidents from 2022 include the terror attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train in March that led to several deaths and the abduction of over 60 passengers; the massacre of congregants at the St Francis Catholic Church in Ondo in June; and the raid of the medium-security custodial facility in Kuje, Abuja, in July that led to hundreds of inmates breaking out.
Communities across the North had to bury scores or even hundreds of residents on the same day following waves of attacks by terror gangs. Dozens of vigilantes were shot dead by terrorists in different incidents in Kebbi and Taraba in the first quarter of the year.
Clashes between farming and pastoral communities continued. There was also deadly fighting between rival terror groups in the Northeast, Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), as well as rival groups in the Northwest.
In the Southeast, the activities of separatist militias led to multiple civilian deaths, especially as they enforced an illegal curfew.
Overall, at least 3,941 civilian deaths were recorded. Various security agencies lost 477 personnel last year, an improvement compared to 890 in 2021 and 875 in 2020. Meanwhile, there was an increase in election violence, with 22 election-related fatalities and an additional 31 political actors killed.
Non-state actors suffered heavy casualties as well, with 2,020 Boko Haram/ISWAP members and 2,483 other armed criminals reported killed.
So, how did the various states perform?
The NST data shows that Borno, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, and Katsina had the highest death tolls, while Ekiti, Gombe, Adamawa, Kano, and Akwa Ibom had the lowest.
When it comes to abductions, Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto were the worst performers, while Gombe, Osun, Lagos, Adamawa, Jigawa, and Kano recorded the lowest numbers of victims.
As Nigeria’s general elections are fast approaching, the issue of insecurity will no doubt be one of the voters’ top considerations.
In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration will continue to strive to protect lives and property.
“We will continue to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities across the Nation,” he announced on the eve of the new year.
“We will also focus on ensuring that free and fair elections would be held come February 2023. Our security forces are working in partnership to ensure the wins we have got in [the] war against insurgency, banditry, secession and other crimes are sustained and more wins acquired.”
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