Insecurity: CSO laments killing of security personel, other Nigerians

A civil society organisation (CSO), Global Rights, has lamented the state of insecurity in Nigeria, calling on the federal government to intervene and stop the killing of security personel and Nigerians in different parts of the country.

Addressing journalists Monday in Abuja during the presentation of the 2020 Mass Atrocities Report and Casualties Tracking, the Executive Director of Global Rights (Nigeria), Abiodun Baiyewu, said  Nigeria recorded more violent deaths in 2020 than in 2019.

She said: “The year 2020 was a brutal year for most, as the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted nations and systems across the world. COVID-19 heralded the largest and most fatal global health crisis in recent times, with incredible infection rates, and an unprecedented loss of lives in almost every nation. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, continued its own trajectory of grief and loss, contending not only with the global health pandemic, but also with its endemic insecurity that has spiralled exponentially in the past decade.

“Our tracking of mass atrocities across Nigeria for 2020 (indicated through casualties of violent attacks, clashes, terrorism, kidnappings, and extrajudicial killings) informs that at least 4,556 lives were lost between January and December 2020. A glaring spike of almost 43% in the number of casualties in comparison to the 2019 figure of 3,188). Of the above number, 3,858 were civilians, while 698 were state security agents. For the second year running, for every 5.5 deaths recorded, at least 1 of them was of a security officer.

“The state with the highest number of fatalities remained Borno state in the North East, closely followed by Kaduna state, in the North West. Interestingly, the state with the lowest number of fatalities was also in the North- Gombe state with one (1) victim. The Southern parts of the country fared better at least numerically. The southern states also contended with their own security challenges, which led to the establishment of the controversial Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) – codenamed Operation Amotekun.

“It is important to note that these killings must be contextualized within the larger triggers of violence inherent in the Nigerian state. So, while our report has focused on the killings and kidnaps across the country, it acknowledges other forms of violence and atrocities by state and non-state actors. It is equally important to note that the swiftest method for determining a nation’s propensity for violence is to measure how its most vulnerable are faring.

“Furthermore, projections for peace and security in Nigeria remain bleak. This state of affairs does not bode well for the peace and the welfare of its citizens. More than ever, the country was strongly divided along ethnic and religious lines.

“However, we reiterate the recommendations we made in 2019 report for stemming the tide, which included strengthening Nigeria’s state institutions and governance structures, improving the welfare and work conditions of security forces, reducing the proliferations of arms and weapons across the country.

“Also, government should invest in human development, protect civic rights and freedoms, have respect for the Rule of Law and lead by example. Respect for the rule of law must start with custodians of the law, so government must end impunity. As noted several times in this report, at the root of the mass atrocities in Nigeria is impunity. While extrajudicial killings and security forces brutality are rife in Nigeria, they are not always carried out by state actors. Quasi-state security actors such as ‘civilian JTF, ‘Hisbah’ ‘Amotekun’ etc., have become a regular feature in Nigeria’s security architecture, but they are not held accountable for the various crimes they commit in the line of their exercises.

“Similarly, ungoverned spaces have provided physical habours for several organized criminal groups across the country (especially in the North), while porous land borders have ensured the ease of their importation of arms and their escape after their activities. State governments must therefore harness ungoverned spaces for development and to improve the GDP of their states by establishing social infrastructure that promote economic activities and structures for human development. In addition, the federal government must work to ensure the improved security of the nation’s borders.”