Insecurity: People running for their safety

Insecurity could worsen ahead of general elections – report

EMERGENCY DIGEST- Struggle for power ahead of the 2023 elections has the potential to heighten conflict, especially given security agencies’ poor response to emergencies and distress calls.

This position was reached in a study conducted by development experts at Nextier, a leading policy think-tank.

The report was authored by Dr. Iro Aghedo, an Associate Consultant at Nextier SPD and a Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria, as well as Dr. Ndu Nwokolo, a Managing Partner and Chief Executive at Nextier SPD and an Honorary Fellow, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The group asserts that with the elite’s desperation to capture power in the elections, there is widespread apprehension that violent cases, including assassinations, might escalate.

Besides, members of state security agencies are too few, not strategically deployed, overstretched, ill-equipped and corrupt to effectively manage ubiquitous terrorism, banditry, secessionist agitations, ritual murders, cultism, kidnapping and other forms of violent insecurity.

“There is a need for a system that monitors at-risk locations and assesses the probability of violence eruption, escalation, continuation and geographic diffusion,” say the researchers who stress that atrocious violence in Nigeria has surged exponentially, as manifested by rising trends in massacres, arsons and kidnappings.

The report discloses that data from the Nextier Violent Conflict Database shows that between June 2020 and April 2022, at least 8,455 persons were gruesomely murdered.

“A yearly breakdown shows that 1,494 were killed in the second half of 2020, 4,379 in 2021, and 2,582 from January to April 2022. Among the 2,582 persons killed between January and April 2022, 2,424 were civilians and 158 security officers.

“In another report, a significant indicator of atrocious mass violence is the upsurge in cases of abductions, which rose from 2,002in 2020 to 5,663 in 2021. As evident from the rising trends of violence, extant mitigation strategies have not been effective.”

To address this challenge and ensure prompt security of life and investments, the report recommends the need to embrace Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) mechanisms of providing adequate government presence in vulnerable communities, building trust between communities and security agents, as well as fostering closer collaboration with local actors.

It notes: “Currently, there is minimal trust between most Nigerian citizens and the security agents, particularly the police. Many Nigerians, especially those living in rural communities, perceive state security agents as ‘predators’ rather than ‘protectors.”

It contends that this perception might not be unconnected with the ignoble culture of brutality, human rights violations and extra-judicial killings that characterise Nigerian security establishments.