ON May 29, Muhammadu Buhari will cease to be Nigeria’s President and will, expectedly, hand over to his successor.
When he hands over, it will be without disclosing the identities of individuals and companies that his administration said it had uncovered as financing terrorism in Nigeria and had promised to expose.
On assuming office in 2015, President Buhari promised to make security and the economy the focal points of his administration, as he admitted that insecurity was part of the major challenges facing the country.
He vowed to defeat Boko Haram insurgents in the north of the country by providing government forces with better equipment and lots more.
“I will urgently secure the territorial integrity of the nation. I will never leave the defence of the nation in the hands of hunters, children, and civilian JTF,” were some of the promises of the Buhari campaign that ran on a ‘CHANGE’ mantra.
Almost eight years after, Nigeria continues to face multiple challenges posed by various terrorist groups with devastating human costs that are difficult to assess.
In spite of government counter-terrorism efforts, the prevalence of insecurity in Nigeria had risen, from the Boko Haram insurgency and its splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), to the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the Yoruba self-determination agitators under the platform of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide (IOOW), to the killings and abductions witnessed around the country.
On July 5, 2022, armed men attacked a minimum security prison in Kuje, a community in the Federal Capital Territory, about 40 kilometres from the city centre, and freed about 900 inmates that included more than 60 Boko Haram suspects. One of the terrorist groups, ISWAP, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Again, on July 25, unidentified assailants killed six officers of the presidential guard brigade responsible for protecting the President, in Bwari, another community in the FCT where a campus of the Nigeria Law School is located.
The ICIR reported that a terrorist group in the Northwest threatened, in a video, to kidnap President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
These incidents, as well as many others on kidnapping, spread fear, panic and apprehension among the citizens.
In 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sentenced six Nigerians for funding the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Also, in March 2022, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named and blacklisted six Nigerians on its terror list for their involvement in sponsoring terrorism.
In Nigeria, the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed in February 2022 at a press conference in Abuja that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) had compiled a list of 96 financiers of terrorism.
Muhammed said about 123 companies and 33 bureaux de change were linked to terrorists, in addition to 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and seven co-conspirators who had been identified.
He disclosed that an “analysis has resulted in the arrest of 45 suspects who will soon face prosecution and seizure of assets.
However, till now, neither President Buhari nor Mohammed has disclosed the names of the terrorism sponsors. They have also failed to name the companies linked with terrorism.
With about 125 days to Buhari’s exit from office, the incoming President will be faced with the recurring and growing phenomenon of insecurity to grapple with.
Data shows fall in terrorism in Nigeria under Buhari
Nigeria has seen an increase in cases of insecurity since 2015 according to Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that presents data on violent incidents in Nigeria from 2015-2022.
The ICIR observed a growing trend in the number of deaths, attacks, mass abductions and the total number of kidnappings across the country.
Factcheck done by The ICIR revealed that Buhari’s government registered more 41,000 insecurity-led deaths since he assumed office in 2015.
His administration has recorded the highest number of security-related attacks since 1999 when Nigeria transitioned from military rule to civilian rule.
However, terrorist attacks have reduced from what was recorded in 2015.
Nigeria experienced an estimated 20,395 terrorism-related deaths and over 1,000 incidents between 2015 and 2022.
In 2015, Nigeria recorded 8,064 terrorism-related deaths, while the number of Nigerians kidnapped during the year was 508.
The following year, 2016, she recorded a decrease in terrorism-related deaths at 1,872 while kidnap victims declined by 34.
In 2017, the country recorded another decline in terrorism-related deaths at 1,792, but saw an increase in kidnappings at 166 victims.
While in 2018, the total number of deaths recorded was 1,819, the number of victims of kidnap stood at 283.
Recorded terrorism-related deaths increased in 2019 to 2,216, while kidnapping dropped to 92.
In 2020, terrorist-induced deaths were 2,053, while there was an increase in kidnappings to 657.
There was a decline in terrorism-related deaths and kidnappings in 2021, as 1,558 deaths were recorded and 216 people were kidnapped, while in 2022, terrorism deaths reduced further to 1,021, with 65 recorded kidnap victims.
Buhari government spends $1 billion on captured territories
Recently, at an award ceremony in Abu Dhabi, President Muhammadu Buhari said the Federal Government had spent $1 billion to regain some northern parts of the country that terrorists captured in 2015.
Despite investment to reclaim these territories, the nefarious activities of banditry and terrorism seem not to be abating, and security remains unstable.
Southern Kaduna has been a hotbed of waves of attacks and killings, which the Southern Kaduna People Union (SOKAPU) has severally tagged “ethnic cleansing” by terrorists.
In October 2022, the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia issued warnings on an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja.
The foreign missions, while issuing foreign travel advice to their citizens in Nigeria, noted that suspected terrorists would target government structures, marketplaces, worship centres, police stations, and international organizations.