Nigeria: Different Ways To Die


September 4, 2019: In the north (Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara states) fighting between tribal militias plus a proliferation of banditry has created a chaotic and violent atmosphere that has created outrage among people living there. The government said it would do something about the lethal anarchy but not much is changing. What is happening up there is not unusual and is a problem throughout the Moslem north. The violence is caused by a combination of tribal, religious and economic disputes. The growth of Islamic radicalism in the last few decades has not helped, nor has rapid population growth during the same period. All this made land ownership or land use disputes more frequent and bloody. In the last decade, there has been an increasing number of mass killings which cause more groups to arm themselves and get organized to fight back. This is often just about seeking revenge. Additional police and soldiers have been sent to more and more of the north to deal with Boko Haram, tribal disputes and, in areas the numbers of Christians and Moslems are more equal, to keep armed Christians and Moslems apart. A temporary large presence by security forces can calm things down for a while. Because the fundamental causes of the disputes are still there, the violence eventually breaks out again.

The government recently revealed that deaths from non-Boko Haram outlaws left about 200 civilians a month dead during the first seven months of 2019. There were about 47 attacks a month.. Boko Haram has been responsible for about 35,000 deaths, mainly in Borno State, since 2011 but non-Islamic terrorist outlaws have been responsible for the majority of deaths since 2018. The non-Islamic terrorist deaths have always been numerous but from 2011-2017 Boko Haram accounted for 55 percent of those deaths. Since 2017 Boko Haram related deaths have dropped considerably while the non-Islamic terror deaths have risen and that increase is accelerating.

The government has been creative, or just desperate, in coming up with new solutions and sometimes this had made a difference. For example, earlier in 2019 the government banned the use of motorcycles and similar transport in the violence-prone northern states. This new rule meant the security forces could shoot on sight, from the air or the ground, at any motorcycles they encountered, especially around forests and other rural areas where violent outlaws have their camps.

In some parts of the country, widespread violence has been reduced by government action. In the north, concentrated action by the security forces reduced the violence in Zamfara state but even greater reductions have been achieved in the Niger River Delta down south. That’s where all the oil is and the local tribes are unhappy with the pollution, corruption and lack of economic progress for people who have always lived there. The government has been able to improve economic conditions somewhat but the oil theft and corrupt local politicians are, so far, a constant.

September 3, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), police arrested four men who had modified their trucks with hidden fuel tanks so they could smuggle fuel to Boko Haram groups in the north. Up there sales of fuel is restricted and difficult for the Islamic terrorists to easily obtain. Despite the diminished size of Boko Haram, the group still creates economic demand for goods and services only illegal suppliers can provide. This network also includes businessmen who buy (loot) or sell (fuel, ammo and other supplies) to Boko Haram. These suppliers often work mainly with Boko Haram to remain unmolested and also to make more cash trading with the deadliest outlaws around. This illicit trade also includes foreigners. Since 2014 there have been alliances between Cameroonian gangsters and Boko Haram to build major support network stretching from southern Cameroon to Chad in the north. This includes a major arms smuggling operation. Cameroon has been the source of arms because of its excellent ports on the Gulf of Guinea. There’s lots of truck traffic going north to landlocked Chad and that provides opportunities to hide weapons and ammo among legitimate cargo. Somewhere near the Nigerian border the illegal arms are transferred to smaller trucks and run across the lightly guarded frontier. Interrogations of captured smugglers show that the smuggling is still a major source of Boko Haram income. Since Boko Haram is constantly crossing the border, taking over the smuggling routes made sense as Boko Haram was armed and ruthless and the smugglers don’t want to lose their jobs. In the last year, the security forces have been paying more attention to these Boko Haram suppliers and have had some success and identifying and disrupting more and more of the supplier efforts.

September 1, 2019: Economic growth continues to be stalled. So far this year GDP growth is two percent. Last year the forecast was for three percent growth in 2019. The population is growing faster than that and the unemployment rate is over 20 percent and much higher for young people seeking their first job. The unemployment rates have doubled in the last decade. The trade war between China and the U.S. has caused oil prices to fall below $60 a barrel. Even with most Venezuelan and Iranian off the marker, new production in the U.S. and Canada has more than made up for it. At the same time, Nigerian oil production is still suffering from rampant oil theft, via gangs tapping into pipelines. That adds the cost of repairing the pipeline to the cost of lost oil.

August 31, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), near the Sambisa Forest Boko Haram fired on a rural village causing most of the civilians to flee and making it easier for the Islamic terrorists to loot the place and get away before troops arrived.

August 30, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), troops guarding a main road caught several Boko Haram men attempting to plant a roadside bomb. After a brief gun battle, two of the Islamic terrorists were killed and the others fled, leaving the bomb and several weapons behind.

August 27, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province) gunmen attacked workers installing fiber optic cable 150 kilometers from the state capital Maiduguri. Eleven workers died and the rest fled.

August 24, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), Boko Haram attacked Nganzai, north of the state capital, killing four civilians and kidnapping twelve others.

August 23, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), the air force attacked some Boko Haram outside Gwoza, a town near the Cameroon border, killing about ten of the Islamic terrorists. That military has repeatedly clashed with Boko Haram in this area since 2014.

August 21, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), Boko Haram attacked Gubio (near the border with Yobe state) and Magumeri (50 kilometers from the state capital) killing over 40 civilians and looting the two owns despite the presence of army bases adjacent to each town. The army version was that the soldiers repelled attacks on their bases, which was apparently a diversion so that other groups of Boko Haram to rush in and loot the towns for needed supplies, shooting at anyone in their way and burning down over a hundred structures. The army later elaborated that the two bases involved were part of the new “Super Camp” strategy where bases exposed to possible large-scale Boko Haram attack were heavily fortified and the troops trained to hold their bases until reinforcements could arrive. Boko Haram exploited that to quickly loot the nearby towns and leave before the reinforcements arrived. The Super Camps have prevented Boko Haram from overrunning small army bases as they had been doing.

Further north, in the Sambisa Forest air force reconnaissance, found a Boko Haram supply base hidden in the forest and sent two warplanes and a helicopter gunship to destroy it.

August 18, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), Boko Haram gunmen attacked soldiers near the Dikwa refugee camp (90 kilometers from the state capital Maiduguri) and killed four of them. Dikwa is home to over 10,000 of those displaced by Boko Haram violence.

August 15, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), Boko Haram gunmen attacked an army outpost at Molai, which is five kilometers south of the state capital Maiduguri. The night attack was repulsed but not before three soldiers were killed and several wounded.

August 14, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), across the border in Chad, a female Boko Haram suicide bomber killed six people when she tried to kill a tribal chief who opposed Boko Haram.

The government again replaced the general commanding the forces fighting Boko Haram in the north. This time the man replaced had been in command for only three months. There are few senior officers who can effectively handle the responsibility of a combat situation like Borno State. The government has learned to pay attention to who can command effectively and who cannot. Newly appointed commanders now know they are being closely evaluated at all times and that is responsible for the high turnover. On the plus side, this approach has provided a small, but growing, group of generals who have succeeded in Borno and then been shifted to other jobs that could use an honest and effective officer.

August 7, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), two female Boko Haram suicide bomber entered the village of Mafa and killed three civilians and wounded eight. This took place 50 kilometers east of the state capital Maiduguri.




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