…6,501 civilians, 481 security agents among casualties
…Additional 407 children killed in one year
…Borno records highest deaths, Zamfara , second highest
By Evelyn Usman
Nigerians are daily inundated with one security challenge or the other, which leaves defenseless citizens at the mercy of their assailants.
Killings, arson, banditry have become common on our shores.
Report had it that more than 2. 3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflicts since 2013, while about 250,000 of them fled into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, all in a bid to escape the massacre by terrorists .
Though some of those who fled had returned to the charred remains of what used to be homes, others are still in these neighboring countries , trying to start life all over again.
In Katsina state alone, at least 33,130 people were displaced last year.
At first the wave of these killings were restricted to the North East alone. But today, it has snowballed into a violent twist across the country, with different methodologies.
According to the 2019 Mass atrocities casualties tracking report by Global Rights, an international human rights capacity-building Non-Governmental Organisation, between 2018 and June 2020, life had been snuffed out of 6,982 Nigerians, in violent incidents which included: gang clashes, extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and Boko-Haram/ Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP attacks, according to the report. The victims included 6,501 civilians and 481 security agents .
Among the deaths were farmers who went to their farmland to do justice to their only means of survival, only to be abducted and beheaded. A vivid instance was that in Zabarmari village , Borno state, November last year..
The escalating violence forced many farmers and their families from their homes, and also deprived them of cultivating their farms during the 2020 rainy season, thus indicating food scarcity.
Between January and June 2020 alone, at least 1,126 people were killed in the northern part of the country. Out of this figure, 366 persons were killed in Kaduna State .
Children were not spared either, as reports had it that not less than 1000 of them had been killed since 2018.
In 2018 alone 405 children had their lives cut in their prime. Some of them were killed at the foetus stage while others were slain while being delivered.
In 2019, 3,188 lives were lost between January and December, according to a report by Global Rights. They included 2,707 civilians and 481 security agents.
Borno State recorded the highest casualty that year, with 728 deaths , followed by Zamfara with 450 deaths. Kaduna state recorded 280 casualties, Katsina, 254; Taraba 181; Rivers ,176’ Benue, 167; Niger, 100; Sokoto , 90 and Kogi state, 88.
Security agents were also hacked to death in the course of protecting the lives of the citizenry. They included soldiers, naval personnel, Policemen and officials of the National Security Defense Corps.
However, the casualties recorded in 2019 showed a slight down turn, when compared to 2018 which recorded 3,428.
Spread of kidnappers
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Investigation revealed that these kidnappers who hide under the cover of herdsmen are from Niger and Chad.
Their influx into the South West region of the country was facilitated last year during the lock down , when there was restriction in interstate travel, as part of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
There were reports of some strange movements of some persons into Lagos and other states in the South West then, with some of them arrested while sneaking into Lagos and other states in the region at night. Some of them deprived from entering the state and sent back to where they were coming from .
Unfortunately, there were no corresponding approaches to ensure they actually went back to where they came from.
DSS, Police raise alarm
Last December, the Department of State Services, DSS and the Nigeria Police Force alerted Nigerians of plans by some criminals elements to launch violent attacks on public places, including key and vulnerable points during the yuletide seasons.
They explained that the objective of the planned violent attacks was to create a general sense of fear among the people and subsequently undermine the Government.
They therefore, advised Nigerians to be vigilant and report strange and suspicious movements around them, to security and law enforcement agencies.
Again , on Wednesday, the DSS alerted Nigerians of a plan by some persons to cause ethno/religious violence in the country.
Spokesman for the DSS, Mr Peter Afunanya, in a statement disclosed that latest developments indicated desperate efforts by these groups to subvert public order.
The statement read: “ The DSS hereby reminds the public of its earlier warnings about plans by persons and groups to exploit some fault lines to cause ethno-religious violence in parts of the country
“Latest developments indicate desperate efforts by these groups to subvert public order. In this regard, they have continued to resort to inciting, unguarded and divisive statements and acts. The objective is to pit citizens against one another in order to apparently inflame the embers of tribal and religious discords.
“For the umpteenth time, the Service strongly warns these elements to desist forthwith from their planned nefarious acts or face the full wrath of the law. However, the DSS will, in collaboration with other security and law enforcement agencies, take necessary steps to ensure the safety of lives and property of the citizenry”.
Female victim opens up
The outcome of the threat has begun to play out in the South West region, with these criminals emerging from their enclaves in the bush to abduct Nigerians and whisk them away.
Some female victims were raped severally until ransom was paid.
One of the female victims who was recently released, disclosed that they were raped over 10 times a day. She explained that they were kidnapped on the Benin bypass two months ago, while on her way to Lagos. The lady (names withheld) said, “ while in the forest, they tore our cloths and left us naked, making jest of our looks. Any of them would mount on any of us . At times, five to 10 of them would end up sleeping with a lady at different times, a day.
“We could not struggle because our hands were tied. I passed out at a point and was told the person on me kept on without caring a hoot. They don’t use condoms . I spent close to three weeks in the hospital after ransom was paid for my release” , the lady said.