Nigeria: Blood And Gold


February 12, 2014: Islamic terrorists from Boko Haram continue to make life miserable for people in and around Maidugur i, the capital of Borno state. There are not enough soldiers and police to patrol the areas between the city and the Cameroon border. There are some Boko Haram bases in Cameroon and these are safe from attack by the Nigerian army and generally left alone by the few Cameroon soldiers or police on that side of the border. Maiduguri is sort of the “home” of Boko Haram and if the government wants to do some serious damage to this Islamic terrorist group they will have to find a way to crush them in and around the city. This has been largely done inside the city, but out in the countryside it’s a different matter. Arming the self-defense militias is an option that the army wants to avoid as most of those weapons will eventually disappear into the black market for illegal guns.

Economic disruptions caused by Islamic terrorist activity in northern Nigeria, northern Mali, Sudan and Central African Republic/CAR over the last two years have caused persistent food shortages throughout this semi-desert region (called the Sahel). All this violence has made it difficult to buy food locally for aid operations. Global recession and seemingly endless demands for aid in the Sahel have made the usual foreign donors less willing to continue giving. Currently 40,000 people in northern Nigeria (and several million throughout the rest of this region) are completely dependent on food aid and elsewhere in the Sahel nearly ten million have poor access to food because of all the violence, much of it caused by Islamic terrorists.

Anti-corruption investigators and activists are not only uncovering the details of how so much has been stolen but how it was done and how corrupt politicians and officials continue to resist prosecution and punishment. Current estimates are that over $10 billion in oil income was stolen recently. One scam involved foreign oil brokers who arrange for oil exports to be sold at artificially low rates and the difference (between that and the real price) to be shared by the brokers and corrupt Nigerian officials. In 2013 some $7 billion in stolen oil income has been traced to this scheme. Punishing the thieves is time-consuming and difficult because the thieves can afford lots of lawyers and litigation to slow down (or buy off) Nigerian prosecutors. Many politicians and government officials refuse to admit a crime even took place and just call for more studies, audits and committees. Some anti-corruption investigators believe that $20 billion may have been stolen in 2013 alone. The World Bank estimates that at least $400 billion has been stolen since the 1960s. What is different now is that the people have real, verifiable numbers and the numbers are huge. Lots of Nigerians are angry about this, so angry that many corrupt politicians are scared.

Corrupt officials with lots of money and lawyers are not the only problem. The state governors tend to be the most corrupt senior officials and they have organized a legislative effort to make it more difficult to prosecute corrupt politicians. There are many of these local politicians, working their way up in corrupt local political organizations with the ultimate goal of being elected governor of a state and being able to amass a large fortune (and then retire outside of Nigeria, in some place without an extradition treaty). The thieves are getting organized as the anti-corruption efforts are more successful. The plundering appears to continue.

February 8, 2014: In the Niger River Delta twenty policemen in three gunboats attempted to land at a village where an oil theft gang was based. They were met by such heavy gunfire that they had to retreat. Many of the men at the village had accepted the 2009 amnesty but had since gone back to stealing oil. Apparently this crew were not sharing their profits with the local politicians and the police wanted to discuss that. Government auditors believe the oil thieves cost the government $6 billion a year.

February 6, 2014: Tribal violence continues in central Nigeria (Plateau State) as Christian gunmen attacked a Moslem village killing at least 20 people and destroying much property. This is the second such attack in the last week. Moslem nomadic Fulani tribesmen have been fighting with Christian and pagan farmers outside the city of Jos for years. The violence has gotten worse now and there were over a thousand casualties in 2013. Boko Haram has recently claimed involvement, but that appears to be marginal. The Fulani have long claimed that the government was sending Christian police to persecute them because of their religion (not because they were constantly attacking Christian farmers). The settled (farming) tribes have been there a long time and in the last few decades more Fulani have come south looking for pasturage and water for their herds and have increasingly used force to get what they want.

February 2, 2014: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram attacks on civilians have killed more than 250 in the last two weeks. The death toll may be higher because most of the violence is in the countryside and there are many rural villages with no phone (landline or cell) service. So news of Boko Haram attacks in these places takes a while to reach the police. A growing number of attacks are in and around Maiduguri. This is the state capital and the city where Boko Haram always had the most support. The violence is most evident in the countryside where over 30 towns and villages now stand completely deserted and, in some cases, burnt out by a Boko Haram attack.

February 1, 2014: In the north (Kaduna state) a popular local Moslem cleric who regularly preached against Boko Haram was shot dead by several gunmen. His wife and child were also killed. Boko Haram is suspected even though Kaduna is far from the areas where the Islamic terrorists are most active. However Kaduna has been the scene of fighting between Christian and Moslem tribes that do not get along for several reasons (usually having to do with real estate.)

January 31, 2014: In the north (Adamawa State) Boko Haram attacked a rural Christian village killing eleven people. The dead included a Christian clergyman. The attackers were eventually repulsed by a local self-defense militia armed with crude firearms made by rural iron workers for the black market and local hunters. These are usually single shot shotguns and pistols and people who buy them tend to become proficient as when hunting you have to reload after each shot so the first shot has to count.

January 30, 2014: In the Niger River Delta police raided a pirate hideout and freed three Indian sailors that had been kidnapped from a boat off nearby Equatorial Guinea. All but one of the kidnappers was arrested.

January 29, 2014: In the north (Borno state) a bus from Cameroon was hit by a Boko Haram roadside bomb, killing seven Nigerians.





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