Why Nigeria Is Still Ranked Third Highest In Terrorism

According to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), Nigeria ranked third out of the five countries with the highest impact from terrorism.

The 2019 index, shows Nigeria retaining the third spot immediately after Afghanistan and Iraq despite the decrease in Boko Haram related deaths in 2014 and reports of decreasing figures from 2017 to 2018. Consequently, while victory is being claimed for the decline in Boko Haram related deaths, there has been a 261% rise in deaths from other acts categorised as terrorism particularly from ‘extremist actors” such as militant pastoralists and nationalists. The recent attack on Mr. Samuel Ortom, the Governor of Benue State on 20th March 2021 by gunmen suspected to be Fulani militia, the spike in cases of abduction by bandits and Boko haram and the attack on Easter Monday by persons suspected to be IPOB militants on a federal Correctional Facility in Owerri which led to the escape of more than 1700 inmates are remarkable instances of such actions which can be categorised as terrorism.


The current regulation for terrorism in Nigeria known as the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013 which amended the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 is by its provisions aimed at prohibiting, preventing, and combating acts of terrorism. Although the debatable recorded success by the military and achievements of other relevant security agencies in combating Boko Haram insurgency can be traced back to the implementation of the Act, much cannot be said in terms of prohibiting and punishing acts of terrorism in the country.


There are no doubt weaknesses in the intelligence and accountability framework that needs to be urgently addressed. According to section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria it is the responsibility of the government to ensure the security of its people and the primary purpose of laws is to maintain order in the society. Although some legislative measures were taken in the form of counterterrorism legislation, the need to complement such measures by strengthening intelligence and the capacity of the security framework at local and regional levels should be accorded priority. One of such measures is to build public trust and confidence in Nigerian security forces in communities. We attribute the recent agitation for regional or ethnic-based security networks to public trust deficits of the Federal forces.


Also, the management of the steps taken towards the de-radicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration of the repentant Boko Haram insurgents, the payment of huge sums as ransom to bandits have been criticised as fueling terrorism and widening suspicion.  These steps which are weakly designed with no clear long-term agenda portray the country’s government and criminal justice system as being soft on terrorism. More so, as it is becoming increasingly clear that off-shoots of Boko Haram and other militant groups are employing kidnapping and banditry to sustain insurgency. This Crime -Terrorism nexus if not strategically addressed will continue to be a major threat to Nigeria’s peace and security and keep the country in the eyes of the international community as one of the hot spots of terrorist activity for some time to come.