Insecurity from Security Chiefs
Violence and unnecessary loss of lives continues to plague the country with the Northeast and Northwest being the worst hit areas of the country. Even as the armed security forces wage war in operation after operation, the number of combatants willing to terrorize civilians and take up arms against the state seems unending.
This report captures and summarizes the numbers of casualties of both state and non-state actors due to violence across the nation, as well as pointing out the most insecure areas as evidenced by reports of recent or ongoing skirmishes and killings.
The battle against Boko Haram and its affiliate ISWA (Islamic State in West Africa) continues predominantly in the North East, the majority of confrontations continue to be in Borno. The group has been responsible for a number of killings of both civilians and military personnel. From our reports, in June 2020 alone, these groups are responsible for at least 215 killings, 33 of whom are confirmed to be armed forces personnel. Also 20 individuals were reported kidnapped, some of whom are security service personnel and aid workers. On June 11 ISWA released a video of the assassination of 1 soldier and 1 police officer. The most violent clashes took place in Monguno, Borno, on June 13 where ISWA killed 20 soldiers and 71 civilians in other parts of the state. Also on 9 June BH fighters killed 81 civilians in Gubio.
Their activities are of course not unchecked by the armed forces and the military report engaging and killing 149 Boko Haram and 41 ISWA combatants. Monguno, Gwoza, Gubio, Damboa, Bama, Konduga, Nganzai and Magumari areas in Borno state recorded the worst clashes. Large parts of Borno are in essence a war zone at this time.
Despite the ongoing struggle to end the scourge of Boko Haram in the Northeast, a new and worsening threat has arisen in the Northwest called Banditry. Hundreds of combatants moving around the countryside causing chaos wherever they set foot, mainly engaged in smuggling, cattle rustling, kidnapping and robbery. The government has stated its resolve to take the fight to the bandits and nip the issue at the bud. In June bandits are reported to be responsible for the death of 129 civilians and the kidnapping of 45 others. Their theater of operations is expanding, from their previous bases in Zamfara, their activities now range into Katsina and even Sokoto. The worst clashes happened in Maru, Zamfara where on 15 June, 25 civilians, and 20 June, 23 civilians were killed. On 9 June, 57 civilians were also killed in Faskari, Katsina.
The Army, Police and Air Force have in a coordinated response been responsible for the engagement and killing of 141 bandits in June 2020. The areas worst affected by the bandits are Maru, Zurmi and Tsafe in Zamfara, then Faskari, Dandume, Batsari and Danmusa in Katsina.
Meanwhile sectarian violence due to ethnic or religious differences, land disputes etc, continues to occur sporadically in different states across the country. A total of at least 99 deaths are recorded due to sectarian violence. The worst incidences are in Adamawa where 27 people lost their life on June 9, then there were repeated skirmishes in Benue over the month that lead to at least 31 deaths. The hotspots of violence were Guma, Agatu and Oju in Benue, Bokko, Quan’an Pan, and Barkin Ladi in Plateau State, Misau in Bauchi, Bali, Doga and Wukari in Taraba state. Other involved states are Ebonyi, Jigawa and Adamawa.
The menace posed by herdsmen was less in june, probably due to more vegetation for grazing due to the rainy season, thus decreasing clashes which are principally over grazing rights. There is a report of 12 civilians killed by armed herdsmen in Benue on 6 June. Over the month intervention by the Nigerian Army led to the deaths of 7 herdsmen, mostly in Benue state.
Attacks by unknown armed assailants/gunmen on different communities were reported, leading to the death of 27 civilians and the kidnap of 24 over the month, affected locations are Kachia and Chikun in South Kaduna, Shiroro in Niger state, alo some incidence in Plateau, Taraba and Katsina.
Activities of armed robbers have not gone unnoticed in the month under review, in Kogi state on 4 June, a brazen armed robbery attack on a bank was executed in Isanlu town. According to reports, the armed robbers initially attacked the local police station where they killed 8 police officers, using explosives and assault weapons. 3 female police officers and 1 civilian were among the dead. A sad and embarrassing day for the NPF.
In this rainy season, when it rains it pours. As if it could not be embarrassed enough, it is reported that on 16 June at Ughelli, Delta state, SARS police officers engaged in a fierce shootout with some armed robbers resulting in the death of a gang of seven. The men were soon confirmed to be police officers from NPF Bayelsa State. They were in mufti during the operation and a Sergeant from the Bayelsa State NPF Armoury was arrested and taken to Abuja in connection with investigations into the case.
These reports are only highlights and do not capture all incidents that occurred across the country. Despite the reports most cities and states in the country remain free of systemic violence while economic activities continue in relatively secure environment.
- Updated travel advisory should always be sought from a qualified security consultant before any journey is embarked on, especially when traveling outside urban areas by road.
- If travel is an absolute necessity then adequate security in the form of armed security personnel and escort vehicles must be engaged
- To avoid kidnappers, always maintain a low profile while in transit; no flashy jewelry, simple attire, simple phones etc.
- Community policing must be increased in all LGAs
- Robust grassroot engagement by Social agencies to address the recruitment of fighters into these armed groups