Boko Haram related violence in the north has left nearly 200 people dead in the last month. Over 1,700 have died in the last three years. The four month old army offensive in the north has driven Islamic terrorists from the cities and they are now being hunted in the countryside with the help of pro-government militias. Boko Haram quickly sensed that the local volunteers were a major threat, as they were often young men who knew the area around their villages well and thus often knew where Boko Haram was hiding in the forests and bush. That, coupled with the aircraft and helicopters the military had, meant the Boko Haram men have been forced to spend most of their time trying to stay hidden, or raiding rural towns and villages to kill the “vigilantes” (as some call the pro-government militias, who are often unarmed) to discourage this sort of cooperation with the army. That is working in some cases, but in others it just creates more anger. Boko Haram is really polarizing opinion up north, with most people wanting the Islamic terrorists gone or just dead.
Using the many documents seized during the early weeks of the offensive against Boko Haram, the government has sent banks throughout the country a list of people and organizations believed to have opened bank accounts for the terrorist funds (mostly from robbery and extortion). When found the accounts have been frozen. Nigerian, and American, intelligence are going over all the names found during these raids, looking for people with any prior terrorist connections. American assistance is largely limited to intelligence but that is proving very damaging to Boko Haram finances and communications. Boko Haram is not dead, but it is badly hurt and could still recover.
President Johnson fired nine of his ministers because of a split in the ruling party and opposition to him running for another term in 2015. The outbreak of Boko Haram violence in the north and the documenting of the extent of oil revenue loss ($6 billion a year, at least) from theft down south has caused a split in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). There is a lot more enthusiasm about suppressing corruption now, especially since decades of dictatorship ended in 1999. People are frustrated because there has been a lot of talk from politicians but not a lot of progress in curbing this bad behavior. In the last few years there has been a lot more exposure of the massive fraud and theft, largely fueled by half a century of oil revenue. Many Nigerians take comfort in that trend but are also dismayed at how entrenched the corruption is and how resistant to change many prominent and powerful Nigerians are. Some of the new political parties are run by corrupt politicians while others are reformers, and there seems no quick end to this struggle. The vice president and seven state governments formed the New PDP in late August. Unfortunately, the New PDP seems more interested in power than in clean government. The corruption provides the cash that enables politicians to get elected (via bribes and intimidation, in addition to advertising and hiring campaign workers). The more you can steal the more secure your hold on power is. Another big problem for corrupt politicians these days is the tendency of courts coming after them when they leave office (and lose their immunity from prosecution). It used to be possible to flee the country with your loot, but now many countries will arrest and extradite you back to Nigeria if a Nigerian court makes a convincing case against you.
September 11, 2013: In the north (Borno state) the army found and destroyed two Boko Haram camps and then pursued the fleeing terrorists, calling in an air strike to halt the fleeing gunmen and allow troops to catch up with them. Some fifty Boko Haram members were killed in these operations.
September 10, 2013: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram has attacked twice in the last two days, killing 56 civilians in an effort to intimidate civilians and discourage the formation of defense (against Boko Haram) militias.
September 8, 2013: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked a town that had formed an anti-Boko Haram militia, killing twelve of the militiamen. Five Islamic terrorists were killed as well.
September 6, 2013: In the south (River state) police claimed major success against kidnapping gangs, which have become a major problem. Police say the crime rate has been reduced because of operations against these specialized gangs. Of 16 kidnappings reported to police recently, police found and rescued nine of the victims, although another two were killed by their captors. The raids seized 38 guns, a lot of other equipment, and twenty stolen vehicles. Sixteen kidnappers have been killed and 63 others arrested.
September 5, 2013: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked two towns in the last two days, seeking out and killing twenty men suspected of belonging to pro-government militias.