The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has released its latest report, indicating that Nigeria has improved its ranking by moving to 8th position, two steps down from its place in 2022. The annual report, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), ranks countries according to their levels of terrorist activities since 2000.
The report for 2023 reveals that Nigeria has experienced a continuous decline in the number of deaths caused by terrorism, leading to its lower ranking. In the Sub-Saharan region, Ethiopia recorded the most significant improvement, with zero terrorism-related deaths for the sixth consecutive year, despite two attacks by Al-Shabaab in 2022.
In 2022, Nigeria had the largest decline in terrorism-related deaths in the region, falling by almost a quarter from 497 in 2021 to 385 in 2022, the lowest level since 2011. This reduction was primarily due to a decrease in deaths attributed to ISWA, which was responsible for 57 attacks in 2022, compared to 79 in 2021.
The report also notes that the spatial dynamics of terrorism in the Sahel have shifted from northeastern Nigeria to the tri-border area of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, indicating the further trans-nationalisation of terrorism across the Sahel and coastal West Africa. While Nigeria has improved, it still faces a significant threat from extremist groups such as Boko Haram and ISWA.
The decline of Boko Haram has resulted in a significant improvement in terrorism in Borno State, which saw a decrease of 12% in terrorism-related deaths and a 47% decrease in attacks. However, ISWA is now the most prominent group in the state, responsible for 40 incidents resulting in 168 deaths in 2022. Borno State remains the hardest-hit region in Nigeria, accounting for 60% of all terrorism-related deaths in the country.
The report notes that the conflict between ISWA and Boko Haram that led to the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in 2021 continued in 2022. This has weakened Boko Haram’s impact in Nigeria, while ISWA has become stronger and continues to expand its area of activity in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. The report predicts that terrorist activities by groups such as ISWA are expected to increase before and after Nigeria’s presidential elections in February 2023, as they exploit tensions caused by the elections.