The Nigerian army has created a new army division to continue its offensive against Boko Haram in Borno State. The new division is codenamed BOYONA, and will be commanded by a Major General. It will be based in Borno State, will take over anti-Boko Haram duties from the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF).
Click the link below to listen to a BBC radio 4 report summarising the latest news regarding the army’s fight with Boko Haram. Residents of Borno state have created vigilante groups to apprehend Boko Haram members. However the recent Mosque attack that killed 44 people suggests that Boko Haram may be retaliating against those that cooperate with the security forces.
Great video by Sahara TV interviewing Al-Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege who visited Maiduguri in Borno State. Due to Boko Haram activities in the the state’s , and the Joint Task Force’s (JTF) heavy presence, the state has been heavily militarised.
While residents welcome the JTF’s presence, daily life has been badly affected with normal routine civilian life being heavily disrupted by fighting between Boko Haram and the JTF, JTF curfews between 9pm and 6am. However residents are so frightened that they do not leave their homes before 11am since gun battles between the JTF and Boko haram tend to rage in the early morning.
Some residents also accuse the JTF of indiscriminately arresting civilians whom they suspect of being Boko Haram members, and of summarily executing suspects. In their defence, the JTF say it is next to impossible for them to distinguish civilians from Boko Haram members since Boko Haram members might live with family members who are not members.
Good report by the BBC Hausa service’s Jimeh Saleh who is from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. In this interview he discusses the changes in his hometown that arose as a result of Boko Haram.
Two bomb blasts have been reported during Christmas service in Nigeria. The first blast was near at a Catholic church near the Nigerian capital Abuja. Reports say about 20 people were killed.
The first blast was near St Theresa’s Church in Madalla. A second explosion struck the Mountain of Fire Ministries church in the city of Jos.
Attention will inevitably be focused on Boko Haram. Were they responsible for the latest bomb blasts?
The Boko Haram uprising has seemingly been crushed by the Nigerian security forces for now. After terrorising the northern states with an orgy of violence, these two stories show another side to the story. The first video shows the police summarily executing a suspected Boko Haram member in the middle of the street. The second video shows the wounded Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf being interrogated by the police.
Translation of interrogation of Mohammed Yusuf – Boko Haram leader (the interrogation was conducted in Hausa):
From the DAILY TRUST (Written by Nasiru L. Abubakar)
We went to your house yesterday and we saw a lot of animals, syringes and materials used for making bombs, what were you keeping all that for?
Yusuf: Like I told you, to protect myself…
(Cuts in)…to protect yourself how? Isn´t there the authorities, the law enforcement agencies?
Yusuf: The authorities, the law enforcement agents are the same people fighting me…
What did you do?
Yusuf: I don´t know what I did… I am only propagating my religion Islam.
But I am also a Muslim…
Yusuf: I don´t know why you refuse to accept my own (Islam)
Why should you say Boko is Haram (sinful)?
Yusuf: Of course it is Haram
Why did you say that?
Yusuf: The reasons are so many…
The trouser you are wearing…
Yusuf: (cuts in)…it is pure cotton and cotton belongs to Allah
But Allah said in the Qur´an iqra (read), that people should seek knowledge…
Yusuf: That´s correct, but not the knowledge that contravenes the teachings of Islam. All knowledge that contradicts Islam is prohibited by the Almighty…sihiri (sorcery or magic) is knowledge, but Allah hath forbidden it; shirk (Polytheism or sharing or associating partners to Allah) is knowledge, but Allah has forbidden it; astronomy is knowledge, but Allah has forbidden it…
At your place we found computers, syringes…are all that no products of knowledge?
Yusuf: They are purely technological things, not Boko…and westernization is different.
How comes you are eating good food – look at you, looking healthy – you are driving good cars, and wearing good clothes while you are forcing your followers to sell their belongings and live mostly on dabino (dates) and water?
Yusuf: That is not true. Everybody is living according to his means. Even you are different. Whoever you see driving good cars is because he can afford them, and whoever you see living in want also means he doesn´t have the wherewithal.
Why did you abandon your mosque and your compound?
Yusuf: Because you went and opened fire there…
But you sent your people there to die in the fire?
Yusuf: No my people have left the place.
What about those who came to fight for you…where and where do you have followers?
Yusuf: You have chased all of them away.
Apart from Maiduguri…
Yusuf: There are some in Bauchi but police chased them away even before now; there are some in Gombe, police went to their house and chased away; there are some in Yola, Adamawa, police attacked them, same with those in Jalingo, Taraba State. It was after chasing them away that they turned to us here in Maudguri.
What happened to your hand?
Yusuf: I fell
In this town (Maiduguri), how many areas do you have?
Yusuf: The headquarters is right here.
What about other branches?
Yusuf: We have in Gwange, Bulunkutu…
Where they intercepted weapons the other day, right?
Yusuf: (Laughs) Intercepted weapons?
What about your 2IC (second in command)…because they said you have soldiers, police, etc?
Yusuf: That is not true…
But don´t you have a 2IC, who acts in your absence?
Yusuf: I have…
What is his name?
Yusuf: Malam Abubakar Shakau
Where is he now?
Yusuf: I don´t know.
Who and who escaped with you?
Yusuf: I did not run with anybody
Who are your sponsors, here at home or abroad?
Yusuf: No body
No, tell us the truth…
Yusuf: Insha Allah, I won´t lie to you…
You have a farm around Benishek?
Now you have made us kill people that are innocent. What do you have to say?
Yusuf: You bear responsibility on all those you killed.
What about those killed by your followers?
Yusuf: My followers did not kill anybody
What about those killed among your followers?
Yusuf: Those killed among my followers, whoever killed them are those who committed crime.
Where are you from originally?
Yusuf: I hail from Yobe State.
Where in Yobe State?
What about your father?
Yusuf: He is also from Jakusko.
What about your mother?
Yusuf: She is from Gashua
Have you ever travelled abroad?
Yusuf: Only Hajj (Pilgrimage)
What year was that?
Yusuf: 2003 and 2004.
Discussion in English follows…
It appears that the leader of the religious sect involved in the bloody violence of the last few days in northern Nigeria has been killed by the Nigerian security forces. Strangely an announcement on state radio by the Borno state police commissioner Christopher Dega announced that Mohammed Yusuf died “in police custody”. That is a very odd announcement that will be treated with some suspicion given that witnesses have alleged seeing security forces summarily execute some of the Boko Haram members after capturing them.
This situation needs to be handled carefully. The army’s offensive (“Operation Flush”) is commanded by an Igbo Christian (Colonel Ben Ahanotu) so any unecessary casualties may stir up religious passions. The death of Yusuf may sap the militants morale and lead to them being crushed by the security forces. Certainly there has not been much public sympathy for their aims (elimination of Western education) thus the army has public support to deal ruthlessly with them.
Alternatively Yusuf’s death may further radicalise and incite his followers to greater acts of violence now that they have nothing to lose.