Weeks to the end of 2018, many Nigerians would be eager to bid the year goodbye and welcome 2019 with open arms.
Reason: 2018 has been a harbinger of death, tears of blood and gnashing of the teeth for a host of people and families in all parts of the country. No state was spared the anguish of gruesome murders. Literally, Nigeria could be described as a killing field in 2018 as no fewer than 6,562 Nigerians, according to Sunday Vanguard’s checks, were slaughtered through the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, cult clashes, sectarian and communal clashes, kidnapping, ritual killings, and armed robbery, among others. The Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen and farmers’ clashes accounted for the bulk of the deaths.
The North-Central, North-East and North-West zones were the apex theatres of the killings with states like Borno, Benue, Plateau, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Taraba being the epicentre of the killings. The death figure is conservative because it is based on but not even limited to reported incidents and deaths. Many killings were not reported or the casualty figures were not disclosed. If those who died in the custody of kidnappers were added, the tally would be much higher. The 6,562 deaths recorded since the beginning of 2018 exclude those who died from illnesses, accidents, flooding, infant mortality, Lassa fever, malaria, HIV/AIDS, etc. Those killed include civilians and security agents as well as the insurgents. In the first 10 weeks of the year as tallied by Sunday Vanguard in March 2018, no fewer than 1,351 people were mowed down. In January, 676 Nigerians were killed, and in February, no fewer than 517 people died violently, across the country. For the remaining months the death tolls are as follows: March, 485; April, 670; May, 508; June, 639; July, 357; August, 363; September, 926; October, 1,033; and November, 388.
The deaths have made Nigeria one of the countries affected most by terrorism. According to the Global Terrorism Index, GTI, Nigeria is the fourth country with the highest number of deaths resulting from terrorism. In 2016, the GTI said 2,164 persons died through terrorist acts in Nigeria. The Committee on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, set up by the Plateau Government, said penultimate week that 1,801 persons were killed and 50,212 people displaced by the recent attacks in the state.
AVM Bala Danbaba (retd), Chairman of the committee, while presenting the committee report to Governor Simon Lalong, in Jos, said the committee identified 115 communities cutting across Jos North, Jos South, Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Bokkos Local Government Areas, that were affected by the crisis. He said the committee, whose one month mandate was later increased to two months, received 55 memoranda and visited 27 camps where the IDPs were quartered, noting “The only IDPs camp we did not visit was the one at Lere, in the Dorowa area of Barkin Ladi Local Government. We could not go there because of security reasons. ‘’ Last July, the Amnesty International, AI, said the killings in Zamfara were under reported, saying of then 371 people had been killed in the state. Amnesty International recalled that on Friday 27 July, 18 villages in the Mashema, Kwashabawa and Birane districts of Zurmi local government area of Zamfara state were attacked, leaving at least 42 people dead.
“At least 18,000 residents of the affected villages who were displaced over the weekend are now taking refuge at various locations in the local government headquarters. The following day a further 15 people were kidnapped in Maradun local government area. “On Saturday 28 July, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the deployment of 1,000 troops to Zamfara. This is the third time since November 2017 that the authorities have deployed the military in response to attacks, but villagers told Amnesty International that this has not translated into protection for remote, vulnerable communities. “Previous military interventions have failed to end the killings, especially in rural areas of Zamfara. At least 371 people have been killed in Zamfara in 2018 alone, and at least 238 of these killings took place after the deployment of the Nigerian air force. The government is still neglecting the most vulnerable communities in this region,” said Osai Ojigho. “Villagers described feeling helpless and on edge, constantly bracing themselves for attacks. Men said they are sleeping outside their homes and in trees as a way of keeping vigilant, while women and children are sleeping together in groups for protection. Villagers described a pattern where they receive warnings ahead of attacks, including by phone, ordering them to pay huge sums of money or be killed or abducted,” AI further disclosed.