The latest report by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which ranked Nigeria third among countries worst hit by terrorism worldwide, should be of paramount concern to the Nigerian government and its citizens. It is the fourth year that the country would occupy such an unenviable position owing to the unbridled activities of killer herdsmen and Boko Haram in the North-Central and North-East geo-political zones, respectively.
The GTI is produced annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank with offices in Sydney, New York and Mexico City. The institute monitors and measures the impacts of terrorism in 163 countries, which cover 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.
In 2014, Nigeria ranked fourth in the global terrorism index. But since 2015, the country has consistently retained the third position among countries ravaged by terrorism globally, coming behind Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other countries that made the top ten list in the global terrorism index for 2017 are Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, Egypt and Philippines.
The report stated the Boko Haram sect and nomadic herders had unleashed great havoc on Nigerian citizens. It also revealed that “in 2018 alone, deaths committed by nomadic herders are estimated to be six times greater than the number committed by Boko Haram. In 2017, 327 terrorism deaths across Nigeria and Mali were reportedly committed by nomadic extremists, along with 2,501 additional deaths in the three years prior with the vast majority of these deaths being civilians.
According to the report, “while killings committed by nomadic extremists decreased following the peak of 1,169 deaths in 2014, violence from the group in 2018 is expected to surpass that peak. Nearly 1,700 violent deaths have been attributed to the nomadic militia from January to September 2018. An estimated 89 per cent of those killed were civilians.”
Indeed, it is worrisome that Nigeria is ranked worse in terrorism than war-ravaged countries like Syria and Somalia. Yet the GTI’s consistent placement of Nigeria among the hotbeds of global terrorism can hardly be faulted.
Activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the country have escalated since March 2015 when a breakaway faction of the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Last year, it was reported that two of the 20 most heinous terrorist attacks in the world occurred in Nigeria. One was on March 20, 2017 when some extremists opened fire at a market in Zaki Ibiam, Benue State, killing 73 people. And on July 25, 60 people were killed when a convoy of Frontier Exploration Services team was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents at Jibi.
The current year has not been any less dismal for Nigeria. Between May and October, no fewer than 87 soldiers were believed to have been killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Pridang-Bita Road, Gajiram, Garunda, Zari, Niger border and Kukawa communities in Borno State.
The most gruesome attack occurred on November 18 when Boko Haram terrorists attacked the 157 Task Force Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Metele, Borno State. Although 23 soldiers were confirmed dead, other reports said that the casualty figure could be higher than that.
The United States Council on Foreign Relations Global Conflict Tracker revealed that Boko Haram had killed more than 37,500 people since May 2011. About 2.4 million people are believed to have been displaced in the Lake Chad Basin.
Shortly after his inauguration in May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari visited some neighbouring countries in a bid to get them more involved in the war against insurgency. The resultant successes seem to have been diminished.
It has become obvious that to win the war against terrorists in Nigeria, the government and the military must embrace fresh tactics, beyond providing more equipment to the soldiers and changing the war commanders.
Government must also investigate the recent daring attacks on the military by the ‘technically defeated’ Boko Haram. Intelligence gathering must be deepened, and the military must engage local residents that are familiar with the terrains in such exercise. Government must also pay attention to the grievances of soldiers while the military must do everything possible to increase the morale of the soldiers.