Has Security Improved In Nigeria’s Capital City Under The New Minister?

The answer to that depends on how you look at the data.

What does the data say about the insecurity in Nigeria’s capital city under the new administration? In summary, examining incidents over a long period compels the conclusion that the situation has remained awful—or even worsened. However, if we limit the analysis to incidents within the past six months, we notice a significant improvement.

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, recently claimed that security has improved in the city, allowing residents to “sleep with their two eyes closed”.

“We cannot say we have gotten it 100 per cent right because no society is free of crime. But are there differences? Certainly, yes, and you can attest to the fact that it is no longer what it used to be,” he said on Thursday, May 23.

Wike made a similar pronouncement on May 2 while speaking to a diplomatic delegation from Hungary. “By the grace of God, we’ve been able to reduce the level of insecurity. You can attest to the fact that Abuja is safer now because of the way we have been able to tackle the issue,” he said.

To confirm whether this is true, HumAngle analysed statistics collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) project. 

The ACLED database is compiled by a non-profit and is the most widely referenced source of conflict data worldwide. It relies on press reports and other credible sources. The data on political violence in Nigeria goes as far back as January 1997, including information on armed violence, explosions, riots, abductions, and related events. It also documents the number of people reported or estimated to have died as a result of these incidents.

When we checked, the database was last updated on May 17, 2024.

Our analysis revealed that the number of fatalities and abductions increased significantly in December 2023, a trend that lasted for a few months. Then, in March, security in the country’s capital sharply improved. The incidents of violence reduced, and so did the rate of abductions and the number of lives lost. This improvement has so far been maintained.

Between September and November 2023, the average number of violent incidents was 25, the average monthly fatality was four, and the average number of abductions was four. The following three-month period saw the average number of violent incidents rise to 29, the average monthly fatality rise to 17, and the average number of abductions rise to seven. In contrast, between March and May 17, 2024, the numbers have respectively dropped to 16, four, and less than one.

However, if we zoom out and compare the state of insecurity under the Bola Tinubu presidency and Nyesom Wike administration to what was obtainable before then, we find that the picture is not as attractive.

Tinubu was sworn in as president on May 29, 2023. (Wike was appointed and sworn in as FCT minister in August of the same year.)

Between June 2023 and May 2024, there were 245 incidents of violence, 84 deaths, and 42 abductions recorded in the FCT. This shows that insecurity has generally worsened compared to the previous 12-month period when there were 201 incidents of violence, 78 deaths, and 26 abductions.

If the trend of violence recorded between January and April continues all through 2024, then the year is set to become the worst in recent history — with the projected death toll hitting 147 and abduction incidents reaching as many as 42. But if the numbers continue to drop, as we’ve seen since March, then it certainly will not be as bad.

Wike has taken multiple steps to stem the tide of insecurity in the country’s capital, including providing motorcycles to aid the movement of security agents, directing the police to establish two more divisions around the outskirts, working on procuring digital tracking tools and other security gadgets, and engaging with heads of security agencies as well as area councils “to come up with solutions” and get the cooperation of residents in the fight against crime.

Security forces have recently arrested various kidnappers operating in the area, with some of them described as notorious. In late January, Abuja’s police command disclosed that it had rescued 154 victims of kidnapping and arrested 139 suspects within two weeks. Police spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi said the “recent launch of the Special Intervention Squad (SIS)” in Abuja by the Inspector-General of Police was responsible for a huge part of the successes.

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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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