Report: Jihadis, State Security Killed over 20,000 in Nigeria Under President Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015, promising to tackle corruption, defeat Boko Haram and fix Nigeria's oil-dependent economy. (Sunday Alamba/Associated Press)
Sunday Alamba/Associated Press

More than 23,000 people died in Nigeria during the recently re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, primarily at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked Boko Haram jihadi group, a Breitbart News analysis of data compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) shows.

Nigeria inaugurated Buhari for this first four-year term on May 29, 2015. The president won re-election and began his second term on May 29 of this year.

Breitbart News’ analysis covers deaths in Nigeria between June 2015 and May 2019, which reached 23,220.

CFR’s data covers deaths in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram, sectarian groups like the Muslim Fulani herdsmen who primarily terrorize Christian farmers, and the Nigerian government.

The data shows Boko Haram is the primary perpetrator of the fatalities in Nigeria, responsible for at least 5,598 during Buhari’s first four years in office.

Closely trailing the jihadi group, non-Boko Haram sectarian groups killed 4,917 people during the same period. CFR attributed 4,068 deaths to state security forces. The think-tank was unable to link all 23,220 deaths to a specific perpetrator.

CFR noted that its database, titled the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), “documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic, or social grievances,” later adding:

The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones. A new generation of Niger Delta militants threatens war against the state. Government soldiers kill civilians indiscriminately. Police are notorious for extrajudicial murder.

CFR determined that Borno state, the birthplace of Boko Haram, is home to the highest concentration of violence in Nigeria.

Breitbart News found 9,303 or about 40 percent of the deaths during Buhari’s first-term took place in Borno.

With 1,299 deaths, July 2015 appears to be the deadliest month that Buhari has presided over, followed by January 2019 (1,077), and February 2016 (1,076).

In 2016, an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) faction allegedly broke away from Boko Haram over leadership issues. However, both groups still consist of many of the same terrorists. Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The Buhari administration is treating the two factions as different groups to its advantage, falsely claiming that while the Nigerian military has defeated Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa is now a significant threat.

Echoing the Nigerian military, Lai Mohammed, then-the former Minister of Information and Culture in Nigeria, said in February that the African country’s forces have “successfully cleared the remnant of the home-grown insurgency called Boko Haram and are now being confronted by a fresh crisis, a global insurgency.”

The former minister added:

A faction of Boko Haram has aligned with the global terror group, ISIS, to form ISWAP, the Islamic State’s West African Province. In other words, ISIS now has a strong foothold in West Africa – with Nigeria at the forefront of the battle against them.

With ISIS largely dislodged from Iraq and Syria, there is undoubtedly a flush of fresh fighters and weapons to ISWAP. Therefore, our military is fighting a global insurgency, without the kind of global coalition, including the United States, that battled ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The United States does not directly engage in military operations in Nigeria, but it does provide assistance to the African country and its neighbors in their fight against terrorists in the form of intelligence, training, advisers, and equipment.

On Monday, Nigeria’s Premium Times noted that “media reports have revealed that there has been a resurgence in attacks on Nigerian soldiers and military formations by the insurgents since last year.”

CFR’s database appears to treat Boko Haram and ISIS as the same group. The think-tank does not attribute any of the deaths to the ISWAP alone despite the various attacks carried out by the jihadi organization in recent years.

Overall, CFR’s data goes back the inauguration of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in late May 2011.

Between May 2011 and June 2019, a total of 35,454 people lost their lives in Nigeria, primarily to Boko Haram. Over 65 percent of those deaths have taken place since Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, inaugurated Buhari for his first term.

A Premium Times analysis of deaths under Buhari’s first term shows that at least 25,794 people were killed in various attacks during that period. Unlike Breitbart News (June 2015 – May 2019), Premium Times analysis covers May 2015 thru May 2019.


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