No fewer than 25, 794 Nigerians may have died in violent crises in the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The figure was released by the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project run by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank specialising in United States foreign policy and international affairs.
The number represents those killed by different insurgent groups and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, herdsmen, and people who died due to extra-judicial activities of the military.
From June 2015 to May 2019, when the President had his first tenure, our correspondent observed that Borno suffered the highest casualties recording 9,303 deaths. The state was followed by Zamfara (1,963) and Adamawa (1,529).
Others captured in the map are Kaduna (1,488), Plateau (771), Taraba (649), Benue (1,642), Niger (252) Rivers (730), Cross River (467), Ogun (301), among others.
Graphical illustration revealed that the highest casualties were recorded in July 2015 (1,299) and January 2019 (1,077).
Within the four years’ timeline, members of the Boko Haram sect were responsible for 5,598 deaths, while sectarian violence, including the herdsmen-farmers crisis, led to 4,917 deaths.
State actors alone, including the military, were said to have killed 4,068 people.
During the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan (June 2011 to May 2015), a total of 34,884 people were reportedly killed across the country.
The highest record of casualties was in March 2014, when 3,456 Nigerians were killed.
Boko Haram and the military were jointly responsible for 12,765 deaths.
The Council on Foreign Relations, while explaining the methodology behind the data, said it relied on media reports.
The report said, “The Nigeria Security Tracker tracks violence that is both causal and symptomatic of Nigeria’s political instability and citizen alienation. The data are based on weekly surveys of Nigerian and international media.
“The data start with May 29, 2011, the date of Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration as president. It was an event that highlighted the increasing bifurcation of the country on regional and religious lines. The NST is updated weekly.
“Relying on press reports of violence presents methodological limitations. There is a dearth of accurate reporting across certain regions, death tolls are imprecise, and accounts of incidents vary. There is the potential for political manipulation of media. Given these limitations, the NST makes every effort to collect information from multiple sources. Nevertheless, NST statistics should be viewed as indicative rather than definitive.”
Also, four people including a soldier were confirmed dead yesterday following a fresh attack in Riyom Council Area of Plateau State by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Our correspondent gathered yesterday that the attack on the remote Kagboro community took place around 12 pm on Monday and lasted for several hours which accounted for the high level of destruction in the community.
Villagers said that over 300 herdsmen invaded the village, shooting indiscriminately and burning houses including a government-owned clinic in the community after they overpowered men of the vigilante group who tried to resist them.
Meanwhile, at least, 13 people are said to have been killed and houses burnt in two separate attacks in Ardo Kola and Donga local government areas of Taraba State.
Our correspondent gathered that six people were killed in Janibanibu in Ardo Kola LGA near Jalingo when armed herdsmen invaded the village at about 6pm on Monday while seven were killed in an ambush at the border between Wukari and Donga LGAs.
The Parish Priest of St. John the Baptist Pastoral Area, Janibanibu, Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Kamai, told newsmen that seven people were killed in the village by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
“I am in Janibanibu village now, we have recovered six bodies, and we are making efforts to give them mass burial with the support of the soldiers who are with us in the village.
It would be recalled that Kona women, yesterday, staged a massive protest against the continued attacks on their communities and killings of their people by armed herdsmen.
The women took the protest walk from Kona village to Jalingo, the city centre.
Similarly, suspected Boko Haram jihadists have overrun a military base and looted a nearby town in Borno State, security sources and residents said, yesterday, the latest of such attack in the restive region.
The raids came a day after 30 people were killed last Sunday in a triple suicide bombing in the region that also bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram’s decade-long campaign of violence has killed 27,000 people and displaced about two million in Nigeria.
Late last Monday assailants, arriving on nine armoured trucks, stormed into the military base outside Gajiram village, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the Borno State capital, Maiduguri.
They were suspected to be from IS-affiliated Boko Haram faction known as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
“They dislodged troops from the base after a fight,” a security source said.
“We don’t know the extent of damage and looting in the base. An assessment is being carried out”.
It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Residents said the Islamists drove into the town after sacking the base and looted shops, shooting into the air.
Their presence forced residents to flee into the bush while others shut themselves in their homes.
“The gunmen drove into the town around 6pm (1700GMT) after overpowering soldiers in the base,” Gajiram resident Mele Butari said.
“They stayed for almost five hours. They broke into the shops and looted food supplies and provisions,” he said.
“They didn’t hurt anyone and they made no attempt to attack people who fled into the bush or hid indoors”.
Soldiers were seen returning to the town from the bush, yesterday morning.
Traffic on the main road through Gajiram was suspended as soldiers assessed the damage in the base, said residents who returned to the town.
Gajiram lies on the highway linking Maiduguri and the garrison town of Monguno, 55 kilometres away.
Gajiram and the nearby base have been repeatedly attacked by the insurgents.
In June, last year, ISWAP raided the same base, killing nine soldiers.
ISWAP has targeted dozens of military bases since last year, killing scores of soldiers.
Last week, several troops were killed in an ISWAP attack on a remote base in Kareto village, near the border with Niger, according to military sources.
Last Sunday’s suicide bombings occurred in Konduga, 38 kilometres from Maiduguri.
The attacks appeared to be the work of a Boko Haram faction loyal to long-time leader, Abubakar Shekau.
Boko Haram violence has spilled over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting formation of a regional military coalition to defeat the jihadist group.
Also, Reverend Father Isaac Agabi, who was abducted last Sunday by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, has regained his freedom.
Agabi, who is the priest in charge of Holy Name Catholic Church, Ikpeshi, in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, was kidnapped along Auchi-Igarra road at about 5.00 pm, while on his way back to the parish.
It was gathered that he ran away from his abductors in the early hours of yesterday.
The Director of Communication, Catholic Diocese of Auchi-Igarra, Fr. Peter Egielewa, confirmed Agabi’s escape to newsmen in Benin.
Egielewa also confirmed that no ransom was paid to secure the release of the victim from his abductors.
He disclosed that Agabi escaped from the kidnappers when they slept off in the night.
“No ransom was paid. He actually escaped in the night when the kidnappers were asleep. He came out of the bush and was able to come home, no ransom was paid”, said.
The Edo Police spokesman, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, could not be reached for comment, as calls made to his mobile phone were not answered.
However, leaders of the kidnappers who abducted Agabi have been allegedly nabbed by youths of Ikpeshi, in Akoko-Edo.
Similarly, six persons were said to have been killed in an attack launched by suspected herdsmen Monday night on Janibanibu community under Ardo Kola local government area in Taraba state.
This came as hundreds of Kona women yesterday took to the streets to draw attention to the continuous killings of their husbands and children.
The aggrieved women who were dressed in black to mourn the deceased decried the encroachment of their ancestral homes by armed marauders.
They also demanded the release of their youths who they claimed were arrested by security operatives. The procession which started from Kona terminated at Nukkai, a suburb of Jalingo.
However, our correspondent observed that KasuwanBera, a popular market in the metropolis was a shadow of itself, as most traders who live in the sacked villages have deserted it.
Security operatives were also seen around ATC, KasuwanBera among others maintaining law and order. The assault which raised tension and led to the imposition of 14 hours curfew late Monday night by the state government.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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