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Shekau’s death, FG’s efforts — Nigeria makes progress on global terrorism index

Femi Owolabi

Nigeria has been ranked sixth in the 2022 global terrorism index (GTI).

The latest ranking comes as an improvement as Nigeria dropped two places from the fourth position — a position it had been since 2017. 

In the GTI, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), an independent and non-profit think tank, Nigeria, Syria and Somalia were the only countries among the 10 most impacted by terrorism to record an improvement in score from 2020 to 2021.

The GTI also showed that law enforcement, including police and prison officers overtook both military and civilians as the most targeted group of 2021.


These attacks, the report said, were largely driven by a surge in clashes between law enforcement and “separatist groups, such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)”. 

According to the report, the death of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, and efforts of the government are factors that led to the decline of Boko Haram in Nigeria. 

“Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 448 in 2021, the lowest level since 2011,” the report reads.  


“Terror-related casualties dropped by almost half compared with the previous year. However, the number of terrorist attacks increased by 49 per cent between 2020 and 2021. 36 percent of attacks were claimed by ISWA, Boko Haram being responsible for eight per cent and 44 percent not attributed to any group.

“In 2020, ISWA became the deadliest terrorist group in Nigeria. The decline of Boko Haram continued into 2021, with Boko Haram responsible for only 69 deaths, a decrease of 77 percent from the previous year. This is the lowest number of deaths by the group for a decade. Boko Haram’s decline has resulted in a substantial improvement in terrorism in Borno State, which experienced a decrease of 71 percent in terrorism deaths when compared with the prior year.

“Attacks in the state also decreased from 121 to 86 respectively, a decrease of 30 per cent. The state, however, remains the hardest hit region in Nigeria for terrorism, accounting for half of all terror-related deaths in 2021. Boko Haram’s decline coincides with a number of factors, most significantly the death of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau. Shekau, who committed suicide by detonating an explosives vest during a confrontation with ISWA in May 2021. 

“Given the demise of their leader, Shekau’s followers were faced with the decision to either continue Shekau’s ideology or join ISWA. It has been reported that as many as former Boko Haram commanders have joined ISWA after Shekau’s death. Attacks by ISWA as well as counter-terrorism efforts by the Nigerian government and foreign military forces have significantly weakened Boko Haram’s impact in Nigeria.” 

These external pressures, according to the report, resulted in a rise in Boko Haram attacks in neighbouring countries, particularly Cameroon which recorded 37 attacks and 58 deaths in 2021. 

The Nigerian military has continued to launch offensives against the insurgents in the north-east. 


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