The staggering numbers of Nigerian citizens that have fallen victims to avoidable violent deaths for no just cause during the continued tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari is only now dawning on people, as groups and communities are increasingly voicing out their concerns.A conglomeration of civil societies and activists came under the auspices of Nigeria Mourns from last year, on May 28, to mark a day by that name, as a way of mourning the country’s mounting numbers of victims of violent deaths since the beginning of the present administration of Buhari.
Early in the life of Buhari’s government, there were pointers that his reign was to be a very bloody one indeed. Just within six months into his bloody rule, in one weekend of 12th to 14th December 2015 alone, over 1000 Nigerian citizens were killed in Zaria by the Nigerian army for an alleged traffic offence. The Nigerian army colluded with the Kaduna state and federal governments to secretly bury victims in mass graves in their desperate but deliberate attempt at hiding this heinous crime against humanity from the public. The parents and relations of these victims were not even given the chance to bury them with dignity and respect. There were no explanations or condolences. The government turned around to blame the victims and punish the survivors.
That early warning was largely ignored by the majority of Nigerians. Some few even cheered the government for taking out those they regard as enemies or opposed to their faith or position.
The Buhari government then rode on that tacit approval and docility of Nigerians to do nothing as more Nigerians meet violent ends in all parts of the country. The government increasingly did nothing, knowing that there appears to be no consequences. On occasions, the government even dared the citizens.
Soon spates of violent killings in other parts of the country escalated with groups such as Herdsmen thriving unchecked. Brutal armed groups, previously unknown, sprang up in parts that had enjoyed relative peace, and worsened in places that had had incidences of violent killing before.
Some parts of the country soon became better known as graveyards and essentially unreachable. Places like the Northeast and parts of Kaduna such as Birnin Gwari virtually became cut off from the rest of the country. New no-go areas were opened such as Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger states.
Initially, when the Buhari government pretended to act, obviously cattle was more of their priority as we saw General Buhari, in full battle-ready regalia go to Zamfara to launch a war against cattle rustling. We never ever again saw that type of action anywhere humans were being violently killed.
That has been how violent killings escalated in the years Buhari has been in charge, including killings perpetrated by the government and its security apparatuses. Violent killings became the norm rather than the exception and the response to them or in some instances, inaction of the President, became even more obvious.
It reached a point that in Northern Nigeria alone under Buhari in just one week, 70 people were killed in Niger state, 35 in Konduga, Borno state, 45 in Sokoto state and 35 in Zamfara state. Other killings within the same week were 13 killed in Taraba state, 72 in Plateau state, 14 in Kogi state, 11 along Kaduna/ abuja highway, 26 in Nasarawa state, 12 in Kwara state and 19 killed in Katsina state giving us a total of 347 innocent citizens killed in just the week of Buhari was busy celebrating so-called Democracy Day. There was no words of sympathies. No national mourning. Flags weren’t even flown at half mast. No talking tough that perpetrators would be dealt with. All we heard from the President was, “God will judge the killers”.
In fact, according to Nigeria Security Tracker, no fewer than 25,794 Nigerians may have died in violent crises in the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The figure was released by the group project run by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank specialising in United States foreign policy and international affairs.
The number represents those killed by different insurgent groups and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, herdsmen, and people who died due to extra-judicial activities of the military.
From June 2015 to May 2019, when the President had his first tenure, our correspondent observed that Borno suffered the highest casualties recording 9,303 deaths. The state was followed by Zamfara (1,963) and Adamawa (1,529) states.