This is a guest post by Emily Mellgard, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.
This week’s “Weekly Incidents” infographic illustrates violence in Nigeria in three separate time frames. Each emphasizes that violence in the country is varied both in terms of the actors who perpetrate it and the geographical spread.
The infographic is embedded below and can also be found here.
The heat map records two main centers of violence: in the Middle Belt where sectarian violence where farmers and herdsmen clashed in at least three separate incidents in Adamawa and Taraba states; in the north, Boko Haram and the security forces clashed at a military base, killing an estimated forty-four people, and Boko Haram also killed two All Progressives Congress (APC) officials in Borno. In addition to these incidents however are armed gunman attacks in the north and south in which a five-year-old child died and a vigilance chief was shot. Another suspected kidnapper was also burned to death in Ogun state.
The Weekly Incidents also shows violence trends by perpetrator over the past four months. Between January and April, March was by far the most violent month, including the attack on Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri and the subsequent shooting of over eight hundred people detained in the barracks. There has been comparatively little conflict between Boko Haram and the security services in the other months in 2014 thus far.
The final graphic this week shows the trend line of violence since the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) began in May 2011. The graphic shows an increase in the pace of violence dating back to the third quarter of 2012. It increases again significantly in the first quarter of 2013, and dramatically again between the third quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014; which shows the current levels of violence.
The information in the NST is indicative rather than definitive of the real numbers killed in violence in Nigeria. The trends depicted however are accurate. Accurate numbers can be extremely difficult to obtain in Nigeria, especially in hard to reach and insecure places. This is dramatically demonstrated in the wide ranging discrepancies and misinformation on the kidnapping of the Nigerian school girls from northern Borno state. The schools girls were kidnapped on April 15, and the incident is recorded in that week’s infographic. The number of those taken ranges from seventy (government sources) to over three hundred (the school and parents of the victims). Such a range makes all available information suspect other than the admission that more is unknown than known.