The Nigerian army has intensified its offensive against Boko Haram. The latest reports are that the security forces suspended mobile telephone networks, to allow them to attack with stealth and hinder Boko Haram’s communications.
The army raids have destroyed lots of Boko Haram’s equipment, and revealed the sophistication of Boko Haram’s weapon inventory – such as vehicles mounted with machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, and anti-aircraft artillery.
After President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, army troop reinforcements have begun arriving in northern cities such as Maiduguri and Yola.
It is a long overdue move and I am surprised it took the President this long to declare a state of emergency. The state of emergency means that the army can take greater responsibility for security in those three states. Troops can occupy city centers, take over buildings, and arrest and detain suspects without trial. Two incidents seemed to have tipped the balance in favour of the state of emergency:
1) Boko Haram nonchalantly dismissed the President’s offer of an amnesty. By doing so, Boko Haram seemed to declare its intention to settle its scores with the government on the battlefield, rather than via dialogue. It seems that President dialogue is now ready to meet them on a battlefield rather than in a conference room.
2) The recent Baga attacks which left hundreds of people dead marked a new deadly escalation in the conflict with Boko Haram.
Although Boko Haram has launched attacks across the north and as far south as the capital in Abuja, the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in the Kanuri heartland, represent Boko Haram’s support base. It has taken over at least one-third of the local government areas in Borno state. Losing control of its own territory to a terrorist organisation seems to have been the last straw for the government. President Jonathan accused Boko Haram of declaring war against Nigeria.
Excerpts from the President’s national broadcast announcing the state of emergency:
Innocent civilians are likely to be caught in the inevitable shoot-outs between the army and Boko Haram. There are reports that Boko Haram has been forcefully conscripting new members, and threatening them with death if they do not kill in the group’s name within weeks of joining.
Nonetheless the state of emergency will be popular among the general Nigerian population. Many have accused the President of being weak and of treating Boko Haram with kid gloves. This state of emergency will boost his security credentials and demonstrate a willingness to forcefully confront Boko Haram.
Even if the troop surge proves successful, it would offer only temporary respite. Boko Haram can easily slip across the border into neighbouring countries, regroup, and return. Only a long term political and economic solution can permanently end Boko Haram’s violent insurgency.
A lot of Nigerians who left to live in Europe and the USA are returning to Nigeria. Do the “repats” help or hinder Nigeria? Nigerians give their views…
The Redeemed Christian Church of God has turned into something of a phenomenon. It has grown massively and has churches in 160 countries. Its leader pastor Enoch Adeboye is a near celebrity, extremely wealthy and has a private jet. An inside look at one of their sermons…
Al-Jazeera feature article on the prohibitively high cost of housing in Nigeria. With demand high, and construction levels not enough to meet demand, houses are priced at $600,000 (US) in cities, and require prospective buyers to pay a 30% deposit…putting affordable housing out of the reach of many.
Good video about the rebuilding of Nigeria’s railway lines between the north and south. There are (to be) three main north-south railway lines:
*Lagos-Kano (already re-opened).
*Port Harcourt in the south-east to Maiduguri in the north-east.
*Another line to be reconstructed by Chinese civil engineers to run from the former capital Lagos, to new capital Abuja, to Kano in the far north.
The legendary Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has died aged, 82. Achebe is most well known for his book “Things Fall Apart”. He died in Boston in the USA. Achebe’s death comes shortly after he wrote his memoirs on the Biafran war.
Sincerest condolences to his family. May he RIP.
News report my a hidden camera and reporting team from the Nigerian north-eastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State. Maiduguri is the stronghold of Islamist insurgents Boko Haram. It demonstrates just how hard it is to fight Boko Haram. People are reluctant to give information to the security forces as they do not know whether their friends or neighbours are Boko Haram members or supporters.
The federal government sent in an army unit called the Joint Task Force (JTF). The JTF has had training in counter-terrorism and urban warfare. It is fighting a very unconventional war, and Boko Haram’s habit of blending into the civilian population makes it hard for the JTF to distinguish Boko Haram members from ordinary civilians.
The JTF’s allegedly heavy handed tactics and heavy shootouts with Boko Haram are angering some and leading to sympathy for Boko Haram. The JTF has declared a dusk to dawn curfew, and banks, shops and businesses close early in fear of the violence.
A few facts about the group that killed seven foreign hostages in Nigeria a day ago:
*The group is called “Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan” (“the Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa) – AKA Ansaru.
*Ansaru is a splinter group from Boko Haram.
*While Boko Haram attacks local targets, Ansaru seems to have an international agenda. It crossed over Nigeria’s border, entered Cameroon, and kidnapped Western hostages there. It also attacked Nigerian soldiers who were en route to Mali for a UN peacekeeping mission.
Nigeria has serious security challenges on its hands. Like the Delta militancy, the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria is splintering into a hydra. The federal government of President Goodluck Jonathan has a major issue on their hands. They face Boko Haram on the domestic front, and now a new terror group with international capability. Things are looking grim for Goodluck Jonathan.