Exclusives & Features

IN DETAIL: Non-state actors killed 4,545 people, kidnapped 4,611 in 2022

BY TheCable




Some minutes into January 1, 2022, Otu Inyang, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was shot dead at Ikot Udoma, Eket LGA, Akwa Ibom state. Inyang was said to have been killed while he was heading home after a crossover service in the church. This marked the beginning of Nigeria’s security misfortune for the year, as gun-toting non-state actors unleashed terror on Nigerians and other nationals residing in the country in 2022.

According to data sourced from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and National Security Tracker (NST), analysed by TheCable Index, the data and research arm of TheCable, 4,545 people were killed by non-state actors, while 4,611 others were kidnapped in 2022.

Further analysis by TheCable Index revealed that an average of 12 people were killed, 13 people kidnapped daily in violent attacks reported in the media from January to December 2022.


It is imperative to state that in the process of extracting data for this report, TheCable Index excluded the killings carried out by security operatives and the death of suspected criminals like kidnappers, armed robbers, bandits, and Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters.

For instance, during the course of the year, officers of the Nigeria Air Force reportedly carried out a series of airstrike operations against bandits and other terrorist groups in the northern part of the country and killed many insurgents.

In the south-east, soldiers also reportedly killed a number of suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). TheCable Index excluded such killings from this data report.


The media reports sourced from NST analysed for this report have been compiled here.


  • 4,545 people were killed in Nigeria in 2022.
  • 4,616 people were kidnapped in Nigeria in 2022.
  • 3,972 civilians, 202 military personnel, 186 police officers, 154 vigilantes, 14 security guards and 17 others were reportedly killed in the period under review.
  • Others in this context are officials of the Federal Road Service Corps (FRSC), The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).
  • Killings were reported in all the months of 2022; January had the highest number of reported deaths with 836, while August had the least with 131.
  • Niger state had the highest reported death toll — 604.
  • Ekiti state recorded the lowest reported death toll — 4.
  • Kaduna state recorded the highest number of people abducted with 1,166.
  • Adamawa state recorded the lowest number of people abducted with 2.
  • In terms of the reported death toll, the northern part of the country recorded the highest with 3,574 deaths, representing 78.7 per cent of the total reported death toll across the country; while the southern region recorded 971 deaths, representing 21.3 per cent.
  • On zonal level, north-west recorded the highest number of reported death toll with 1,524 deaths, followed by north-central with 1,390; north-east had 660; south-east recorded 449; south-south had 276; while south-west recorded the least figure with 246.
  • In terms of the reported abductions, the northern part of the country recorded the highest number of people abducted by non-state actors with 3,902, representing 84.5 percent of the total reported across the country. The southern region recorded 714 reported abductions, representing 15.5 percent.
  • Boko Haram/ISWAP firefighters, bandits, unknown gunmen, robbers, kidnappers, cultists, and gunmen were the non-state actors who killed Nigerians the most in 2022.


Based on the analysed data, TheCable Index observed that Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue and Plateau states accounted for 40 per cent of the reported killings in the period under review.


Niger recorded the highest number of reported killings with 604, followed by Zamfara with 565 deaths. Kaduna had 507 deaths and Benue recorded 333 deaths.

Further analysis showed that the aforementioned states recorded a high number of reported killings because of the activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters, bandits and farmer-herder clashes.

The data also showed that Ekiti state recorded the least number of deaths by non-state actors with four casualties, closely followed by Adamawa with five casualties. Gombe had 11 deaths, while Kano recorded 14 casualties.


Out of the reported deaths in the year, 3,972 civilians were killed by non-state actors, representing 87.4 percent of the total deaths.


For this report, quasi-security outfits established by state governments, LGAs and communities were classified as vigilantes. They were not spared by non-state actors in the period under review as 154 of them were killed. Those employed as security guards for individuals and organisations had their share onslaught as 14 of them were killed in 2022.

Security operatives who are at the warfront in the fight against insurgency recorded some casualties in the period under review as 202 soldiers and 186 police officers were reportedly killed.


According to the analysed data, the month of January was the bloodiest in the year 2022 as 836 people were killed by gunmen, representing 18.4 per cent of the total reported deaths.

Non-state actors unleashed terror in many Nigerian communities in the month of January. For instance, In Zamfara, bandits killed over 200 residents of Anka and Bukkuyum LGAs in January – an incident that led to the displacement of about 10,000 people. The bandits stormed the Zamfara communities after officers of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) conducted air strikes on their hideouts.

In the monthly casualty figure, January was followed by March with 578 deaths, while April recorded 470 deaths.

Below is a table showing monthly record of reported killings: 

S/N Months Casualty
1 January 836
2 February 467
3 March 578
4 April 470
5 May 384
6 June 451
7 July 229
8 August 131
9 September 149
10 October 247
11 November 275
12 December 328
Total 4,545



TheCable Index observed that the south-west geo-political zone recorded the least reported death toll among the six zones of the federation. The combination of the six states in the south-west recorded 246 deaths. The south-south zone had the second lowest reported death toll as 276 people were reportedly killed by non-state actors in the zone.

In the southern region of the country, the south-east zone recorded the highest number of reported death tolls as 449 people were killed in the zone. Activities of those who are dubbed as “unknown gunmen” increased in the south-east as they unleashed terror on police officers, police stations, facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other public facilities.

The north-west recorded the highest number of people killed by non-state actors with 1,524 reported casualties, followed by the north-central with 1,390 reported deaths. The two zones accounted for 64 percent of the total reported deaths recorded in the entire country. The north-east recorded the least number of reported deaths with 660.


This report also reviewed the number of people abducted by non-state actors in the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT). Kaduna state recorded the highest number of people abducted with 1166 victims.

In 2022, Kaduna recorded a spate in the activities of bandits and terrorists. The infamous attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train by terrorists at the Kateri-Rijana area of Kaduna was one of Nigeria’s insecurity highlights in 2022.

In terms of abductions, Kaduna was followed by Niger state with 782 victims, Zamfara recorded 691 victims, Katsina had 412 victims, while Sokoto recorded 251 victims in the period under review.

The five aforementioned states located in the northern part of the country accounted for 71.5 percent of the total reported abductions in the country.

Adamawa recorded the lowest number of reported abducted people with two victims, Osun had 3 victims, Kano recorded 3 victims, and Lagos had 4 victims in the period under review.

Below is a table showing monthly figures of kidnapped victims:

S/N Months Kidnapped  victims
1 January 662
2 February 348
3 March 561
4 April 313
5 May 156
6 June 558
7 July 412
8 August 151
9 September 281
10 October 258
11 November 285
12 December 631
Total 4,616


TheCable Index observed that there is under-reportage of killings and abductions in many states of the federation. The magnitude of insecurity in many states does not reflect what is reported in the media.

In December, Inuwa Yahaya, governor of Gombe, said no fewer than 27 kidnap cases are reported monthly in the state.

That means the state would have recorded at least 324 kidnap cases throughout 2022. But during the data extracting process for this report, TheCable Index observed that Gombe had very few cases of abductions reported in the media for the year.

Five people were reported in the media to have been kidnapped from the state based on the analysis conducted by TheCable Index. This depicts that the media reports from Gombe do not reflect the true situation.


In 2021, TheCable Index found out that 5,067 people were reported to have been killed by non-state actors across the country, representing an average of 14 people killed daily in various violent attacks. In 2020, TheCable Index observed that about 3,326 people were reported to have been killed in the country.

The 2021 report, when compared to the 2022 reported killings, shows that there is a 10.3 per cent decrease in reported killings. However, 2022 witnessed a surge in abductions as non-state actors turned the kidnapping of innocent citizens into a thriving business through ransom collection.


After being presented with the above findings, Freedom Onuoha, a political science professor and coordinator of the security, violence and conflict (SVC) research group at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said the spate of insecurity in the country may hinder the forthcoming general election.

Onuoha said aside from threatening the conduct of the election, insecurity may also ignite voter apathy.

“If the statistical data is correct, it may not guarantee safe and credible elections in 2023,” Onuoha said.

“First, it suggests that northern Nigeria, and indeed every part of the country, do not run short of criminally-oriented groups that could compromise election security based on their ideological, political or economic motivations.

“In addition, such level of insecurity could discourage people from coming out to vote, not to mention those who may decline to participate as adhoc electoral staff on account of escalating insecurity.”

The professor also said the Nigerian army must devise kinetic and non-kinetic approaches with blends of dialogues to fight the country’s multifaceted insecurity.

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