Apart from 2014 when Nigeria was ranked fourth, it has remained in the unenviable third position in the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranking since 2015.
Mixed reactions have trailed the report. While former vice president and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said the country’s ranking in terrorism shows the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) failed promises, the APC said report was far from reality.
In the latest report released on Wednesday, Iraq, a country in the Middle-East, is ranked first, a position it has held since 2014. Afghanistan has ranked second since 2013. Syria and Pakistan are ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
Others among the top 10 countries worst hit by terrorism in 2017 are Somalia (6th), India (7th), Yemen (8th), Egypt (9th), and Philippines (10th).
The good news, however, is that there has been a reduction in the number of deaths caused by terrorism in Nigeria in 2017, just like the other three preceding years, according to the report
“When compared to the peak of terrorist deaths in 2014, the largest falls in
the number of deaths occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan, with falls of 6,466, 5,950, and 912 deaths respectively,” said the 2018 GTI report.
The report said deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 1,532 in 2017, a decrease of 16 per cent from the prior year.
There were 63 per cent and 34 per cent drop in deaths in the country in 2016 and 2015 respectively, according to the report.
“This highlights the effectiveness of the counterinsurgency operations undertaken in Nigeria and its neighbours, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad,” the report said, adding that the world has also experienced a drop in deaths from terrorism in 2017.
The GTI, while analysing global trends in terrorism in 2017, described the reduction in deaths in Nigeria and Iraq “the most dramatic.”
Boko Haram attacks, the report said, have substantially reduced in Chad and other neighbouring countries; and Al-Shabaab, in 2017, overtook Boko Haram as the deadliest terror group in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The GTI report raised concern over the killings by herdsmen, saying terrorism was shifting from Nigeria’s North-East region to the country’s Middle-Belt.
The report said: “In Nigeria in 2018, there has been a dramatic increase in violence involving Fulani extremists even as deaths committed by Boko Haram are falling.
“In 2018 alone, deaths committed by nomadic Fulani 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 Fulani extremists, along with 2,501 additional deaths in the three years prior with the vast majority of these deaths being civilians.
“While deaths (killings) committed by Fulani 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 Fulani Ethnic Militia from January to September 2018. An estimated 89 per cent of those killed were civilians.”
According to the report, two, out of 20 most fatal terrorist attacks, occurred in Nigeria. One was on March 20, 2017, when assailants identified as “Fulani extremists” opened fire at a market in Zaki Ibiam, Benue State killing 73 people. The other was on July 25, 2017, when Boko Haram terrorists opened fire on a Frontier Exploration Services team convoy at Jibi, killing 60 people.
The GTI, which is in its sixth edition, is produced annually by the Institute for Economics & Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank with offices in Sydney, New York, and Mexico City.
Reacting to Nigeria’s rating, former Vice President Atiku has described this as a function of the failure of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to keep its campaign promises to Nigerians.
Atiku, who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate for the 2019 polls, said it was unfortunate that the present administration could not deliver on its campaign promise to secure the country.
Speaking through his media aide, Paul Ibe, the former Vice President noted that that is the more reason Nigerians cannot take the APC serious in the run-up to the 2019 polls.
According to him, “it is very clear that this coincides with the era of the APC led administration. Again, it is also a confirmation of their failed promises. They have failed on economy. They have failed on alleviating poverty. They have again, failed on security. Then
you ask yourself without security, what can we do? That explains why every nook and cranny – the North West, the North Central, the North East, the South South – everywhere is a theatre of one war or the other.
He said: “It is not about promises. It is about policies. That is why we are different from them. You look at the well articulated policy, which Atiku has reeled out; it is a framework, and Nigerian are interrogating it. And security is an integral part of it.” In its reaction, the APC has dismissed the report, describing it as rating faraway from the reality on ground.
According to National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the rating was wrong, stressing that Nigerians who are on ground have the accurate rating.
Said he: “We cannot join issues with people far away from the reality. Nigerians have their own rating because Nigerians who could not move freely in Abuja before the APC came in have their rating. The residents of Abuja formerly perpetually under fears of insurgents attack have their ratings. People of the North East have their own rating because they understand the difference between when they could not even live in Borno or Yobe and Adamawa states and now. They know that insurgency has been degraded to the extent that they don’t have any community under their control.”