Nigeria: July 2024 Update


July 2, 2024: In northeast Borno States female Boko Haram suicide bombers, set off their explosives at a wedding and then a funeral, leaving 32 dead and 42 wounded. Boko Haram became active in Borno during 2009 and since then have killed over 40,000 while two million were driven from their homes.

Another consistent security problem is the lack of an effective national police force. Since the 19 th Century there have been sporadic efforts to create a modern, reliable, honest and effective Nigerian national police force. All those efforts have failed and the current national police are still known for their corruption, brutality and ineffectiveness rather than effective policing. This has led to numerous local vigilante groups appearing when needed because of a local crisis. In many other cases the army is sent to restore order but does not stay because Nigerian law does not allow the military to replace the police on a permanent basis. Moreover, soldiers are trained for combat, not full time policing of neighborhoods in towns and cities as well as rural villages.

The military is active in fighting large outbreaks of banditry and terrorism. For example, in northwestern Katsina State, the air force responded to reports of a major Islamic terrorist raid on a group of rural villages as well as a local army base. Dozens of structures were being looted and set on fire. Local police and army forces were alerted but the air force arrived first and saw the fires and detected the Islamic terrorists fleeing on motorcycles and in vehicles. The air force confirmed the presence of the fleeing terrorists and attacked, killing at least 8o Islamic terrorists and attacking some of the rural camps they were living in. The air force and ground forces don’t always have this much success when responding to reports of attacks. But in this instance the timing and location of the attacks resulted in heavy losses for the Islamic terrorists.

In most of Nigeria there has been less Islamic terrorist violence since 2020 as these terrorist groups faded away while tribal violence became responsible for most casualties. The Islamic terror groups’ main activity was staying alive, and they did so via banditry. In some parts of Nigeria, like Katsina State, the Islamic terrorist activity quietly grew. But when there was a major attack, the military was able to respond forcefully and decisively.

Back in 2004, Islamic terrorist violence in the northeast appeared and created some lasting problems. There are still millions of refugees plus substantial economic damage in the northeast (Borno State), where it all began. There seems to be no end in sight because of the local corruption, but more competent leadership in the security forces reduced the violence. All this was caused by a local group of Taliban wannabes calling themselves Boko Haram. Their activity in the capital of Borno State grew for a decade until in 2014 it seemed unstoppable. It took over a year for the government to finally muster sufficient military strength to cripple but not destroy Boko Haram. This did not get much media attention outside Africa, even though in 2014 Boko Haram killed more people than ISIL did in Syria and Iraq. The main reason for Boko Haram gains in 2014 and 2015 was corruption in the army, which severely crippled effective counterterror efforts.

By itself Boko Haram was too small to have much impact on a national scale but the inability to deal with this problem put a spotlight on the corruption that has hobbled all progress in Nigeria for decades. A new president was elected in 2023 and made considerable progress in changing the corruption. This included problems with tribal feuds and growing unrest throughout the country. This has been especially bad down south in the Niger River Delta region which was where most of the petroleum extraction took place. Violence against oil facilities continues, in part because local politicians and business leaders were part of the oil theft business. Northern Moslems want more control over the federal government and the oil money. In northern and central Nigeria, you have increasing violence as nomadic Moslem herders move south and clash with largely Christian farmers over land use and water supplies. For the last few years these tribal feuds have killed more people than Boko Haram. The situation is still capable of sliding into regional civil wars, over money and political power. Corruption and ethnic/tribal/religious rivalries threaten to trigger, at worse, another civil war and, at least, more street violence and public anger.




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