No fewer than 2, 140 security personnel have lost their lives under the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), between June 2015 and January 2023.
Investigations by The PUNCH indicate that the deceased agents included personnel of the military, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel.
The President marked his last Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremony in office on Sunday, where he laid wreaths at the Cenotaph accompanied by the Commander, Guards Brigade.
During his swearing-in in 2015, Buhari had pledged to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges facing the nation.
Though the military has recorded measurable progress in the war against the insurgents, the situation has evolved into banditry, kidnapping and other violent criminal activities which the regime has been struggling to contain.
Findings by The PUNCH, however, revealed that the insecurity had taken a huge human toll on the security forces which the authorities had never disclosed.
The number of security personnel who died in active service is believed to be higher than the data obtained by our correspondents from the Nigeria Security Tracker, media reports and other sources.
However, a total of 1,297 soldiers were reportedly killed during the review period.
A breakdown showed that 48 security operatives were killed between June and December 2015; 230 killed in 2016; 164 in 2017; 268 in 2018; 357 in 2019; 609 in 2020; 107 in 2021; 342 in 2022 and 15 in 2023.
Data from the Nigeria Security Tracker showed that over 268 security operatives, including soldiers, policemen, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency operatives, vigilante cadets, and joint task force operatives were killed in several attacks across the six geopolitical zones in the year 2018.
About 153 soldiers fell to attacks by Boko Haram terrorists and suspected herdsmen. No fewer than 96 policemen were also murdered by gunmen, armed robbers, and bandits in the same year.
Also, 16 vigilante cadets and operatives of the joint task force were attacked and killed by suspected terrorists, bandits and kidnappers while three NDLEA officers succumbed to their injuries.
The worst hit region was the North-East, followed by the North-West, North-Central, South-South, with the lowest killings recorded in the South-East and South-West.
At least 30 Nigerian soldiers were said to have been killed during combat with Boko Haram terrorists who overran a military base in Borno State, on September 1, 2018.
In November of the same year, the police in Zamfara State confirmed the killing of 16 of its personnel during a clash with bandits.
Meanwhile, in 2019, about 357 security operatives were killed, with soldiers accounting for about 207; police officers, 30 and NSCDC, 10.
About 110 others were believed to be members of the Civilian Joint Task Force.
Reports also indicate that about 46 soldiers were killed by terrorists in Zamfara between January and June, 2019.
It was also gathered that 101 police officers were killed between January and September, 2019.
In July 2019, a divisional police officer and three other policemen were killed by gunmen following an attack on a police station in Bayelsa State, according to the state police command
In 2022, a total of 342 security operatives were killed. The breakdown showed that 102 were policemen; 120 soldiers; 116 vigilantes; one Air Force officer; one correctional officer; one NSCDC and one CJTF.
In July last year, gunmen believed to be bandits killed at least 43 people, including 30 soldiers and seven mobile police personnel in an attack on a mining site in the Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
A total of 15 security operatives have been killed this year. They include six policemen, seven NSCDC officers and two vigilantes.
The breakdown showed that four officers were killed in Imo state, one in Nasarawa; one in Benin; two in Delta and seven in Kaduna.
On January 7, the NSCDC, Kaduna State Command, said seven of its officers were killed in an attack at Kuriga mining site, in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of the state.
A military widow, Mrs. Bilkisu Ibrahim, lamented the hardship she and her children were going through since the demise of her spouse in 2017.
Commenting on the casualties, retired Colonel Hassan Stan-Labo said that nothing could prevent the high casualty figure.
Stan-Labo noted “Concerning the number of deaths, I will not say it is a war. One should experience some level of casualties. If the casualties are forthcoming, fine. What do we do? To stop them or cut the number of casualties? These are the things that should be done.’’
On the poor welfare of servicemen, the security expert alleged that the Federal Government preferred spending on the Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremony than looking into the welfare of veterans.
He stated “Looking at the welfare package for those fallen heroes, the dependents that they left behind; wives and children, I must say that whatever we think we are doing as a country, we are not doing enough. We can still do better.
“The average veteran in Nigeria is not happy with the Nigerian space. He or she feels little appreciated by the Nigerian space. We have some crops of leaders who do not feel that some guys who laid down their lives for them (leaders) to be enjoying what they are enjoying today need some proper care to be given to their families they left behind.
“If you look at the statutory provisions for these dependents, one will realise that it is peanuts (meager). Now, for the dependents to get these peanuts out of government is a problem on its own because of bureaucracy. Those who are financially endowed a little leave the peanuts and go about their normal lives.
“If all the health issues of veterans are headache and malaria, then we do not have a problem but unfortunately it is not. Most of their health issues require serious attention.”
He however advised that “As a country, we need to pay better attention to our veterans. FG seems to pay better attention to the January 15 ceremony which they make so colorful. But, that is where it all stops.”