Almost five hundred civilians were killed as a result of various attacks by armed groups across the country last month of September 2021, as insecurity in the country worsened.
A report by West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) released on Friday indicated that 944 Nigerians lost their lives, 496 of which were civilians. The North West geopolitical zone recorded the highest number of casualty.
A breakdown of the loss of lives across the zones indicated that, in North West, one person was killed in Jigawa, 84 in Kaduna, 4 in Kano, 5 in Katsina, 5 in Kebbi, 70 in Sokoto and 25 in Zamfara state.
In the North East, 13 persons were killed in Yobe, 12 in Borno, 7 in Adamawa and 4 in Bauchi State.
In North Central, 114 people were killed in Niger State, 18 in Kogi, 16 in Benue, 11 in Plateau, 10 in Federal Capital Territory and 9 in Kwara.
In the South East, 30 people were killed in Anambra, 16 in Imo, 5 in Ebonyi while 3 we’re killed in Enugu state.
In the South South, 30 people were killed in Delta State, 4 in Bayelsa, 1 in Akwa Ibom, 2 in Rivers and 3 lost their lives in Edo state.
In the South West, 8 people were killed in Lagos, 3 in Ogun and Osun states while 2 were killed in Ondo and 1 person lost his life in Oyo state within the same period.
According to the report, out of the number of civilians killed during the period 20 were females, while 18 were children.
365 people including 39 females and 98 children were also kidnapped across 26 states within the period.
The report indicated that suspected armed bandits killed 339 people in Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna and Niger States.
Suspected terrorists from Boko Haram and ISWAP ranks also killed 85 persons in Borno state, according to the report. Other criminal groups caused the death of 24 people within the same period.
The report indicated how banditry is taking leap ahead of insurgency as bandits killed 275 persons, with Boko Haram/ISWAP attacks causing the deaths of 22 deaths. Communal clashes caused 7 death while uncategorised armed violence led to the deaths of 106 people across the country.
Violent clashes also caused 13 deaths, Cult clashes claimed 12 lives, while one person was lost to violent demonstrations. The report indicated that 23 people were killed in culpable homicide.
Eight people were said to have been killed through extrajudicial killings while farmer/herders clashes claimed 39 lives, mob attacks led to the death of 26 people within the same period.
The Economist magazine yesterday painted a gloomy picture of the Nigerian intractable security challenge, in a piece titled “Insurgency, secessionism and banditry threaten Nigeria”.
The London publication said Nigeria is facing “its biggest test since the civil war 50 years ago”.
It lampooned the political and security leadership for inability to take the myriad of security threats bedevilling the country.
The publication alleged that the Nigerian army is populated “with corrupt generals and unable to protect the country from the mutating violence”.
“But many of its soldiers are ‘ghosts’ who exist only on the payroll, and much of its equipment is stolen and sold to insurgents.”
“The police are understaffed, demoralised and poorly trained. Many supplement their low pay by robbing the public they have sworn to protect,” it said.
In a swift reaction to the publication, spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the report was crafted to denigrate, demonize and destabilize the Nigerian Government. He said the report contained some unimaginable slurs targeted at the Nigerian military and the Nigerian Army in particular.
According to him, “Even as the real intention of the otherwise respected Economist magazine in publishing such toxic concoctions weaved up as report on Nigerian Government’s response to the multi-faceted security challenges assailing the country is yet to be unraveled, the source of the article is very clear.
“It is one of those deliberate falsehood and noxious narratives orchestrated by a network of detractors and coven of dark forces working very hard to adorn the Nigerian Army in an unfitting garb of infamy.’’
The army spokesman added that, the vile report which the Economist chose to offer its platform for publication, spared no effort in trying to vilify and rubbish the image, character and reputational standing of the Nigerian Army, but failed woefully.
“As a professional, hard-fighting and globally respected institution that has continued to occupy deserved glorious position in the comity of global defence forces, the Nigerian Army is certainly not what the so-called report by the Economist tried to characterize it.
“Even more ludicrous was the embellishments of the said report by the notorious unprofessional media outlets that were quick to republish the obvious falsehood.
“How is it conceivable that an international magazine worth its name and professional reputation would agree to lend its medium for a hatchet job of an article without as much as committing little effort to finding out the real truth about the Nigerian Army?
“How is it imaginable that the Nigerian Army that has distinguished itself as a worthy contributor to global peace and security through regional, continental and international peace keeping and peace support operations would be characterized as “Mighty on paper”?
“How can the Nigerian Army that has restored democracies, brought peace to troubled lands and stabilized the sub-region through the dint of hard work, commitment to duty, discipline and professionalism be so denigrated?
“Is it the ‘ghost soldiers’ of the Nigerian Army that have weathered the storm of terrorism and insurgency of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province Terrorists (ISWAP) in the north eastern part of the country and parts of the Lake Chad region?
“In case the Economist magazine and those who fed it all the lies it published do not know, the Nigerian Army working in a joint environment, has been able to stop ISWAP, a very formidable international terrorist organization in its tracks, in spite of all the obstacles, including arm sale blackouts on its way.
“The Economist and its ilk ought to have known that the Nigerian Army has long distinguished itself as a professional force that does not toy with accountability nor shirk from its statutory responsibility of defending Nigeria from external aggression or internal insurrection.
“Is it not curious that an otherwise respected international magazine could so easily be sucked in by the antics of conflict merchants and agents provocateurs who are uncomfortable with the steadfastness, patriotism, unwavering commitment, sacrifice, ruggedness and resoluteness of the Nigerian Army in stamping out terrorism, banditry and other violent crimes assailing the country and the West African sub-region?”, he argued.