One in every 13 civilians killed in Nigeria last month was either a politician or someone who lost their life to election violence.
According to data collected by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), there were 17 incidents of election-related violence spread across January, in which 16 people were killed. The fatalities constitute 7.7 per cent of all civilian deaths due to insecurity in the period, compared to 0.4 per cent and 1.7 per cent in November and December, respectively.
This represents a 350 per cent increase in fatalities in a period of just a few weeks.
Most of the violent incidents in January happened in the second half of the month. Five were recorded in the Southeast, five in the South-south, four in the Southwest, and one each in the north-central, northwestern, and northeastern regions. States that had multiple incidents were Rivers, Imo, and Osun.
Our analysis also showed that a lot of the violence was due to the activities of gunmen, hoodlums, and clashes between rival party supporters. Asides those who died, scores of people also sustained injuries from machete cuts and gunfire.
Election insecurity has been an unshakable part of politics in Nigeria for decades. Between 1999, when the country returned to civilian rule, and 2019, at least 1,530 people were killed in various acts of election violence. Violence has also grown steadily since the last general elections, especially in southern Nigeria.
The general elections, which are held every four years, are only a few weeks away, with the presidential and federal parliamentary elections taking place on Feb. 25 while the governorship and state assembly polls are scheduled for March 11.
The election commission has, however, said if the trend of insecurity continues, it could disrupt these plans, “hinder declaration of election results and precipitate a constitutional crisis”.
“Intra-party clashes continued to dominate the political landscape as Nigerians count down to the 25 February presidential poll,” the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) recently noted.
“Socio-economic considerations also came to the fore in response to the Central Bank’s deadline to return old Naira notes, resulting in an increased demand for cash and concerns over disadvantages for unbanked parts of the population … Finally, a growing number of security-related incidents, including attacks directed towards a presidential candidate and current president, continued to show the scale of the challenge ahead of government officials in ensuring that the polls proceed without disruption.”
Generally, the NST data shows that 532 people died in Nigeria in January due to insecurity and 191 others were victims of abduction. Among those who were killed were 178 Boko Haram insurgents, seven kidnappers, five robbers, and 97 other armed actors.
The data showed 36 security personnel also lost their lives.
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