Insecurity still a major problem despite Nigerian govt’s claims

Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, NSA, Nuhu Ribadu, has claimed the number of deaths from violent crimes and the use of arms have dropped from 2,600 per month to less than 200.

He made the claim while addressing journalists at the High-Level African Counter-Terrorism Meeting in Abuja recently, stating that the current administration has done fairly well in solving local security challenges.

In support of his claim, Ribadu produced two sets of figures. First is the price of an AK-47 on the market which, according to him, went from N500,000 and N1 million to N5 million. This, for him, suggests scarcity due to government seizures. Second is the decline in the number of deaths attributable to insecurity.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Shettima fails to lead military against criminals as promised during 2023 campaign

According to him, “We are working and I think we have done fairly well. One of the things that we have seen as an indication that things are beginning to look different, for example, is the AK 47 that used to be sold for less than N500,000 last year but now goes for N5 million.

“This means it is not available and we are mopping them up, we are taking them out, we are destroying them. We do not just take but we destroy. A lot of this work is ongoing, but people don’t really see. We salute our armed forces, our security forces, our governors who are doing extremely well.”

Ribadu also said terrorism-related deaths had reduced in Nigeria from about 2,600 monthly to less than 200 currently.

This is not the first time Ribadu will claim insecurity has reduced under the administration of President Bola Tinubu. 

In November, 2023, the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, during the 19th Annual Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, said insecurity had reduced across the country since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took over power.

READ ALSO: Misleading video of armed men stripping Nigerian students naked resurfaces online 

Ribadu is also not the only government official under the present administration to claim an improvement in security under Tinubu’s government.

Nigeria’s Senate President, Mr Godswill Akpabio, stated in March 2024 that the insecurity level in the country had reduced drastically since President Bola Tinubu took office on May 29, 2023.

Also in February 2024, Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information, told reporters that there had been notable improvements in the security situation across the nation following Tinubu’s meeting with state governors in Abuja to discuss urgent issues such as the security and cost of living crisis.

How true is their claim?

But how true are the claims made by Ribadu, Akpabio, and Idris about insecurity in Nigeria? 

To find out if there has been a significant reduction in insecurity in Nigeria since Tinubu assumed office in 2023, we used data from Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) a non-governmental organisation specialising in disaggregated conflict data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping worldwide to fact-check Ribadu, Akpabio, and Idris’s claim that insecurity has reduced in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Ibadan blast, widespread kidnapping show no part of Nigeria is secure under Tinubu

Data on political violence in Nigeria is available on ACLED as far back as January 1997. It includes information on many situations, including gun violence, explosives, and rioting. It also includes the number of deaths that have happened as a result of these incidents that have been reported. 

Contrary to what the national security adviser claimed, the ACLED data showed that the number of deaths caused by insecurity had not decreased much.

Insecurity-related deaths were responsible for 7,459 documented deaths between June 2023 (shortly after Mr Tinubu was sworn in) and March 2024. In contrast, the nation recorded 8503 deaths in the 11 months prior, which is only marginally higher.

Additionally, according to ACLED, there has never been a period of time in the previous year when there were just 200 deaths. September 2023 saw the lowest death toll of 496, whereas for the previous 12 months, the average death toll was 725.

An analysis of the data from ACLED reveals that, from 2015 to 2024, the majority of the country’s monthly deaths were in the range of 500 to a little over 1,000.

We also examined the data about deaths associated with Nigeria’s five officially designated terrorist organisations.

READ ALSO: Ten months after grabbing power, Tinubu wobbles on security, leaves economy in tatters

Boko Haram, Ansaru, Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP), Bandits (Pastoralists) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are major actors in security-related attacks.

Boko Haram, officially known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, was established by Muhammad Yusuf in 2002. Boko Haram is an Islamic sectarian group that has been responsible for numerous killings and acts of large-scale violence in northeastern Nigeria since 2009. (For more on the group, read this factsheet.)

Ansaru, an offshoot of Boko Haram, is officially known Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan. It means, “Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa” and  was formed in January 2012, though it rose to prominence only about six months later through the release of a video in which it vowed to attack Westerners in defence of Muslims worldwide.

ISWAP is an offshoot of Boko Haram with which it has a violent rivalry. The year 2015 saw Shekau swear loyalty to the Islamic State caliph, and JAS adopted the moniker, ISWAP. However, a sect in the faction emerged in 2016 when certain ISWAP leaders who were against Shekau chose to break away.

The administration of the previous President Buhari designated the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group that aspires to restore the old Republic of Biafra—which split away from Nigeria prior to the 1967–1970 Nigerian Civil War—as a terrorist organisation in 2017.

READ ALSO: Investors make exit plans as kidnappers turn Nigeria into dangerous territory

The Nigerian government declared bandits, who are mostly pastoralists, terrorists in January 2022, when the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), gazetted a court judgement that ordered the government to declare bandits terrorists.

Though most of the fatal violence in Nigeria has come from intercommunal or sectarian conflicts, a new facet of insecurity was introduced to Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry by pastoralists, leading to a sharp rise in violence across the country.

Nigeria has reported more than 30,000 deaths linked to terrorism between 2009 and 2024, according to data obtained from ACLED.

According to the data from ACLED, during the joint administrations of the late President Yar’Adua and the former President Jonathan, from 2009 to May 2015, almost 16,000 Nigerians lost their lives in terrorist-related incidents. In contrast, during the tenure of the former President Buhari, from 2015 to 2023, 16,873 people lost their lives.

Meanwhile, we also examined monthly data from January 2010 to March 2024 from ACLED to determine whether there had been a decrease in the number of deaths in Nigeria each month due to terrorism. We discovered that, during the previous 13 years, January 2015 was the only month in which Nigeria had more than 2,600 deaths in a single month, with 2833 fatalities.

The number of deaths from terrorism between June—shortly after the new administration took office—and April 12 is estimated at 1661. The number of deaths from terrorism in the preceding 11 months is only marginally higher, with 1899 documented nationwide.

Based on available data, Nigeria has seen an average of 194 deaths per month related to terrorism since 2010.

Security expert speaks

A security analyst with SBM Intelligence, Antoinette Onyekwelu, said recent violent attacks in Zamfara and Katsina contradicted claims that security situations had reduced in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Tinubu’s Lagos magic spreads hunger, dollar hits N1825

She said, “While there may have been some progress, it’s important for the government to note the ongoing challenges to maintaining public trust. For instance, in the North Central region, where Fulani herdsmen often instigate attacks, the root cause is pastoral conflict, and several factors worsen this issue: failure of peace bills. This bill failed because the federal government, which has the right to use force, failed to fulfil its responsibility to be an impartial arbiter. and the accusation that the military is harming people is not doing the government any good.”

VERDICT: Data shows that the state of insecurity in Nigeria under Tinubu’s government has not changed much; therefore, the claim is misleading.

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Shehu Olayinka is a data journalist, researcher specialising in investigating disinformation and digital manipulation.


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