One Year Under Tinubu: Five Deadliest States in Northern Nigeria

As President Bola Tinubu marks one year in office, some states continue to struggle with severe security issues with hopes for peace among residents in the most affected areas diminishing. Tinubu was sworn in on May 29, 2023, as the president of Nigeria after winning the 2023 presidential election held on 25 February.

With banditry, kidnappings for ransom, and Boko Haram insurgence, Beacon Consulting Limited, Nigeria’s security intelligence and risk management firm highlighted increasing deaths in Borno, Zamfara, Plateau, Benue, and Kaduna states all in the North.

Notably, a day after the Tinubu was sworn in, gunmen killed 25 people in the Maru local government of Zamfara state. However, authorities insist that they are doing their best.

All the five states with the highest number of deaths are from the Northern regions with Borno, Zamfara, Plateau, Benue and Kaduna States topping the list respectively. Accumulatively, 4,333 people were killed by the non-state actors in those five states in the last 365 days of the Tinubu administration, according to the Hausa version of BBC.

Borno State

Borno is one of the Northeastern states that faced the most severe security challenges due to the Boko Haram conflict that began in 2009. Despite the successes recorded by security agents over the years, Boko Haram fighters still exert influence in the region. Since President Bola Tinubu took office, the number of fatalities in Borno has increased.

Many of the deadly attacks have been carried out by Boko Haram and its factional group ISWAP. According to a report by Beacon Consulting, 2,070 civilians have been killed in Borno state since June 2023.

Additionally, these terrorist groups started attacking each other, further increasing the death toll. For instance, on October 19, Boko Haram attacked ISWAP in Abadam local government, killing 40. Similarly, on April 14, 2024, they attacked ISWAP in Kukawa local government, resulting in 100 deaths.

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Some of the worst attacks on civilians include an incident on August 19 in the Maiduguri area, where approximately 100 people were killed by Boko Haram fighters. Another attack on June 15, 2023, saw Boko Haram fighters killing 15 people in Jere local government. However, the military has also had successes, such as the Nigerian Air Force killed 100 Boko Haram fighters in Gwoza local government on June 11, 2023.

The local governments with the highest death tolls in Borno during this period were Marte, with 402 fatalities, and Kukawa, with 347 fatalities.

Zamfara State

Zamfara state has become the second deadliest state in Nigeria since President Tinubu took office, primarily due to bandit attacks. Known for rampant kidnappings for ransom, Zamfara has suffered significantly from this problem during Tinubu’s tenure. Bandits have continued their violent activities, attacking villages and highways, abducting people, and displacing communities. Despite efforts like the formation of the Zamfara local security outfit by Governor Dauda Lawal, and the involvement of Nigeria’s Defense Minister, Bello Matawalle, the situation remains dire.

According to Beacon Consulting, 761 people were killed between June 30, 2023, and May 2024. Significant incidents include the killing of 25 people in Maru and 25 more in Maradun, along with the abduction of over 30 girls. On July 20, 2023, attackers killed seven soldiers and 28 civilians in Maru. On May 11, 2024, bandits killed 49 people in Anka local government, and a conflict between armed groups on May 11, 2024, resulted in 23 deaths in Anka. The local governments with the highest death tolls were Maru, with 329 fatalities, and Tsafe, with 112 fatalities.

Plateau State

Plateau State is notorious for violence stemming from conflicts between farmers and herdsmen and inter-tribal disputes. These conflicts intensified ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 general election and persisted even after the new government took office. From President Bola Tinubu’s inauguration to March 2024, 560 civilians were killed, according to Beacon Consulting.

The first major attack after Tinubu assumed office occurred in Riyom local government, resulting in 21 deaths. On June 18, another 22 people were killed in Mangu local government, followed by 15 more deaths in the same Mangu on June 20 due to community clashes. The local governments with the highest death tolls in Plateau State during this period were Bokkos, with 174 deaths, and Mangu, with 149 deaths.

Benue State

Additionally, Benue State, located in north-central Nigeria, experienced 542 deaths, making it another significant hotspot for violence.

Conflicts in Benue State mirror those in Plateau State, involving clashes between farmers and herdsmen as well as rival tribal groups. Violence persisted even within a week of Tinubu’s inauguration. On June 3, 2023, 25 people were killed in Katsina-Ala local government during an attack on the community. On July 8, 24 people were killed in Ukum local government. More recently, on May 25, 2024, 10 people were killed in Agatu local government.

The local governments with the highest death tolls in Benue State during this period were Ukum, with 136 fatalities, followed by Agatu and Gwer West, each with 58 fatalities.

Kaduna State

Kaduna is the fifth deadliest state in Nigeria since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took office. Similar to Zamfara also in the northwest, Kaduna is plagued by banditry and occasional conflicts between tribes or between farmers and herdsmen in the southern regions. These issues have forced communities to abandon areas like Birnin Gwari, Giwa, and Kajuru local governments.

According to Beacon Consulting, 400 people were killed in Kaduna between June 2023 and May 2024. On January 1, bandits attacked Birnin Gwari local government, killing 19 patrolmen, while volunteers killed 40 bandits on the same day. On February 18, bandits attacked a village in Kajuru local government, killing 12 people and burning 17 houses. On May 7, 2024, bandits kidnapped several students from Kuriga village in Chikun local government; the students were later rescued, but one teacher lost his life.

Recently, on May 19, assailants killed six people in Kajuru local government. The areas with the highest death tolls in Kaduna during this period were Birnin Gwari, with 105 fatalities, followed by Kauru, with 46 fatalities.

Comparatively, data sourced from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and National Security Tracker (NST), analysed by TheCable, show that 4,545 people were killed by non-state actors in 2022 across Nigeria.

Tinubu, during his inaugural speech, exactly one year ago, promised to tackle the insecurity that ravaged most of the regions in Nigeria. He said Tinubu said, “Security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence.

“We shall invest more in our security personnel, and this means more than an increase in number. We shall provide, better training, equipment, pay and firepower.”

365 days later, the security challenges were exacerbated with death tolls from killings by non-state actors increasing and hopes for improved security fading out.

The lingering insecurity especially in the north, calls into question the huge amount of funds expended amid the killings, and kidnappings coupled with sectarian crises.

BUDGETARY ALLOCATION FOR DEFENCE MINISTRY

WikkiTimes discovered that from 2021 to 2024, the Nigerian Ministry of Defence got a budgetary allocation of N5.11 trillion to curtail the lingering insecurity across the nation.

In the 2021 budget, the ministry did not account for N966.4 billion. While N772.3 billion was allocated to personnel costs, overhead and capital costs garnered N66.2 billion and N127.8 billion respectively.

In 2022, N912.5 billion was budgeted for personnel costs, N83.5 billion for overhead and N204.6 was for capital costs, accumulatively totalling N1.2 billion.

Similarly, N1.25 trillion was allocated to the ministry in the 2023 budget, where N1 billion was given to the personnel, N97.1 billion and N285.04 were earmarked for the overhead cost and capital cost respectively, hence, totalling N1.38 trillion for the ministry.

In the 2024 budget, the Ministry of Defence was allocated N1.15 trillion for personnel; N116.5 billion for overhead and N308.2 billion for capital, totaling N1.57 trillion.

SECURITY EXPERT

Dr Kabir Adamu, the Managing Director, Beacon Consulting Limited, told WikkiTimes that the increase in fatalities particularly in Borno in the Northeast was a result of the intense threat environment, comprised of the restiveness of insurgent activity in the region.

He explained that the split between ISWAP and Boko Haram has prompted violent competition between both groups who seek to retain strongholds and grow their ‘dwindling manpower’. 

Dr Adamu said the armed reconnaissance undertaken by the Nigerian Airforce and associated ground raids undertaken by the army to curtail the excesses of the terror groups in the Northeastern States has also contributed to the high fatalities. “Nonetheless, civilians are also impacted in Borno,” he added.

The Managing Director of the security firm said there has been a significant dismantling of the growing insurgency tied to the banditry in the Northwest region.

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He, however, said the organized crime remains rife in the region including in Zamfara which was mostly tied to abductions, community raids and the illegal imposition of levies on farmland.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, injured or displaced by the armed conflict between the armed groups Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West African Province (ISWAP) and the Nigerian military in north-eastern Nigeria in the last decade.

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