Several terror attacks have recently hit Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna.
On 26 March 2022, the Kaduna airport was attacked. Two days later, terrorists bombed a train headed from Abuja to Kaduna, leaving many casualties. Some passengers were abducted. And another two days after that, a low-cost housing estate was invaded, with more abductions.
The spate of attacks may explain why a tweet about the presence of security forces in the state garnered lots of engagement, with nearly 1,000 retweets.
“Kaduna State has the highest concentration of military and paramilitary formations in this country,” it reads. “I don't think even Lagos or Abuja comes close. Yet criminals and terrorists have, for some reason, decided to make the place their headquarters. Make it make sense.”
But does Kaduna really have the “highest concentration of military and paramilitary formations” in the country? Does it have more than Lagos, its economic centre, and Abuja, the capital?
What are military and paramilitary formations?
Military formations are the Nigerian army, navy and air force.
Paramilitary formations include organisations such as the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Security And Civil Defence Corps and the Nigeria Correctional Service.
These paramilitary bodies have offices and stations in all of the country’s states. But experts told Africa Check there was no evidence Kaduna had significantly more of them than other states.
For instance, the police have 29 training institutions across the country. Five of them are in Lagos state, and two in Kaduna.
High number of military bodies, no data on paramilitary
He told Africa Check that it would be difficult to say if the claim were correct without full statistics of all military formations in the country and their locations.
“I really can’t conclude that Kaduna has the highest concentration of military and paramilitary formations because I don’t have the statistics and I’ve not found any. But among northern states, I will say yes. But compared to Abuja and Lagos, I can’t say without statistics,” Ukoji said.
“Kaduna has a lot of military formations and institutions and that’s why a lot of people are surprised that terrorists are attacking the state repeatedly.”
Mike Ejiofor, a former director of the Department of State Services, told Africa Check that if only military formations were considered, the claim would likely be correct.
“I don’t think any state, even Abuja, has as many military formations and institutions as Kaduna state,” he said.
In a January 2022 analysis of security in Kaduna, experts told Africa Check the state had an unusually large number of military formations and institutions.
Kaduna is home to at least 10 military bodies: the Nigeria Defence Academy, Nigerian Army First Division, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigerian Military School, Nigerian Air Force Base, Air Force Institute of Technology, Army Training Depot, Defence Industries Corporation, Nigerian Army School of Artillery and the Nigerian Navy School of Armament Technology.
Why is Kaduna targeted?
Kaduna’s capital city, also named Kaduna, was the capital of Nigeria’s northern region from 1954 to 1967. It has continued to be influential in regional and national politics.
The state is arguably the most cosmopolitan in northern Nigeria, with several industrial and commercial enterprises. It also shares a boundary with Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Ejiofor runs Apex Safety and Security Consultants, based in Abuja. He told Africa Check that the attacks in Kaduna were strategic for the terrorists.
“The goal of the terrorist is to instil fear and make people lose faith in government, especially as we approach the 2023 elections. So if they succeed in overrunning Kaduna with all of the military formations and institutions, then everyone will believe they can overrun any other state,” Ejiofor said.
“Government must ensure the terrorist don’t succeed in Kaduna. There is a need for a different approach. The military should use technology for better surveillance; deploy drones to see the terrorists and stop them before they attack.”
Available data does show that Kaduna has a higher concentration of military institutions than any other state in the country. But there is no evidence that it has more paramilitary bodies than other states.
And experts say comprehensive data on paramilitary formations is not available.