Violence-Related Deaths In Nigeria Down By 90%? Not According To Available Data

Our analysis showed that fatalities have not reduced nearly as much as the national security adviser claimed.

Deaths recorded due to insecurity in Nigeria have not reduced by 90 per cent in the last year, notwithstanding assurances from the country’s national security adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.

While addressing journalists on Monday, April 22, at the High-Level African Counter-Terrorism Meeting held in Abuja, Ribadu said the current administration has done ‘fairly well’ in solving local security challenges.

He cited two sets of figures to justify this statement. One, he said, the price of AK-47 in the black market increased from between ₦500,000 and ₦1 million last year to ₦5 million, indicating scarcity as a result of government seizures. He also claimed death tolls due to insecurity have dropped drastically.

“A lot of difference is taking place in Nigeria. And that is the reason why, I can assure you, in the last one year — close to one year — we have reduced death as a result of violent crimes and use of arms by over 90 per cent,” he said

“On average, we used to record 2,600 or so in a month. Now, we do have less than 200. It’s an indication we are getting results for the work done.”

To verify these claims, HumAngle extracted figures from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) project, which has been updated up to April 19, 2024. The database is compiled by a non-governmental organisation and is the most widely referenced source of conflict data worldwide. The data on political violence in Nigeria goes as far back as January 1997. It includes information on armed violence, explosions, riots, and related events. It also documents the number of people reported or estimated to have died as a result of these incidents.

Our analysis showed that fatalities have not reduced nearly as much as the national security adviser claimed.

If we sum up the death toll between June — shortly after the new administration was sworn in — and April 19, we will get 8,112. At 8,312, the death toll in the previous 11 months is only slightly higher than this. This accounts only for a 2.4 per cent decrease in the period, which could get even smaller by the end of April.

The records show that there hasn’t been any month when the number of fatalities was as low as 200 in the past year. The lowest death toll of 496 was recorded in September 2023, and the average death toll in the past 12 months is 727.

HumAngle also analysed ACLED data for Nigeria from as early as January 2020 and noted that no month within those years had up to 2,600 fatalities. The average monthly deaths between 2020 and 2024 were respectively 707, 914, 910, 731, and 750.

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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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