By Rafiu Ajakaye
The number of people killed in Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria have gone down by around 75 percent between January 2016 and July 2016 compared to the same period last year, according to a Nigerian non-profit organization.
Olusegun Osifuye, head of the Nigeria In Maps, said he based his claims on data released by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) Project, which is registered as a non-governmental organization in the U.S.
“Our workings on the data by ACLED show that 7,096 Boko Haram-related fatalities were reported between January 2015 and July 2015. Conversely, 1,781 Boko Haram-related deaths were reported between January 2016 and July 2016. That is a difference of 5,315, or 74.9 percent. So, fewer people died within the latter period,” Osifuye told Anadolu Agency Monday.
The Geographic Information System analyst said the data also showed a 32 percent decrease in Boko Haram attacks within the same period; 324 Boko Haram-related incidents were reported between January and July 2015, while 220 such incidents occurred in the same period this year.
Nigeria has declared a "technical victory" over the Boko Haram militants, who between 2014 and 2015 seized territories the size of Belgium when the insurgency ripped apart Nigeria’s northeast and other countries in the Lake Chad region. Now split into factions, analysts say Boko Haram has been weakened but not entirely conquered as the government claims.
Ryan Cummings, a Johannesburg-based security analyst, told Anadolu Agency Tuesday that while the research methodologies employed by Osifuye's non-governmental organization were robust, the only thing that could affect its accuracy was the fact that there was a lack of independent media reporting in the region.
Abubakar Mura, a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, said that while the Nigerian military may have dealt a “significant blow” to the militant group as reflected in the results of Nigeria In Maps, reports of human rights violations must be addressed too.
“That is lacking to an extent. The army needs to demonstrate it is fighting a common enemy. Cases of rights abuses are rife and must be addressed too,” Mura said, adding that such a move would be key to winning over “hearts already captured by the strange ideologies of Boko Haram.”
Watchdog bodies like the Amnesty International have repeatedly questioned the human rights record of the Nigerian security forces fighting the militants. Nigerian authorities have been repeatedly accused of being involved in the serial abuse of women and children, and extrajudicial killings of suspects.
Human rights bodies insist on an independent probe of the army over such abuses, a challenge Amnesty says President Muhammadu Buhari’s government was not taking serious.