Nigeria: The Same Old Incompetent Crap

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January 9, 2012: Christian religious leaders doubt the government's ability to protect Nigerian Christians (about half of the population) from Islamic radical group Boko Haram. Christian leaders (clerics and elected officials) are calling on Christians to organize and defend themselves, but not to attack Moslems. Since Christmas day, Boko Haram violence has left nearly a hundred Christians dead. Some Christian leaders are talking civil war. This Moslems do not want to hear, if only because the oil is in the south, and that gives the Christians a major advantage. While Boko Haram is only a small minority in the Moslem community, it is a militant and fanatic group that will quickly kill any Moslems that oppose them. Moreover, many Moslems approve the Boko Haram goal of reducing corruption. Turning Nigeria into an Islamic religious dictatorship is less popular.

The usual pundits insist that the government is responding all wrong (with troops and police) and should instead address underlying social, economic, and political problems. But the government is such a mess and has such a poor reputation because of their inability to solve all those underlying social issues, economic, and political problems. Any solution to Boko Haram is going to require the use of the tools that are available. That involves incompetent police and unruly soldiers. It will be ugly, but then anything the Nigerian government gets involved in usually is. Nevertheless, some officials speak of using more effective methods to deal with this problem. But the way the government operates, such encouraging words are always followed by the same old incompetent crap.

Boko Haram members have been difficult for the police to find, especially in rural areas. That's because out in the country, Boko Haram tell village leaders that the Islamic radicals will live peacefully, but if anyone in the village informs on them the village leadership will suffer. Very effective, and it's very difficult for the police to penetrate that sort of thing. But the police are aware that the Boko Haram is out there and they also know roughly where. The police also know of the increased arms smuggling from neighboring Niger, where many of the weapons stolen from Libyan military bases last year are ending up. The government also openly admits that it has not got the resources to properly police the entire nation. The police are not numerous enough, as well as being corrupt and poorly trained. This is a tragic situation, but not one that is denied. It is obvious in Nigeria and all through Africa.

The police responded savagely in 2009 to the first outbreaks of Boko Haram violence and killed over 800 people (many of them innocent). That shut down Boko Haram for a while, but the group reappeared in 2010. Last year, Boko Haram related violence left at least 550 dead. In the last week, over a dozen casualties a day have been attributed to the Islamic terrorists.

Because of the Christmas attacks, and Boko Haram's threat to kill any Christians who do not leave the north (where the Islamic radicals want to establish a religious dictatorship), the government has ordered the security forces to do whatever it takes to shut down the Islamic terror group. This means a lot of northerners will be mistreated as the police seek out Boko Haram hideouts. Nigerians are already unhappy with the violence, corruption, and incompetence of their police and northerners will be angrier still. But most Nigerians do not want a tribal/religious war. That's what Boko Haram seeks, as a way to get more popular support as the "defender of Islam." So far, southern Christians have not made many attacks on Moslems in the south, but that could change, and that is what Boko Haram is hoping for, a religious war.

January 7, 2012: In the north-eastern town of Potiskum, Boko Haram attacked a police station and at least one bank. There were several dead and over a dozen wounded.

Israel has offered medical assistance to deal with the growing number of terror-related injuries. Nigerian officials have also asked Israel for counter-terrorism help and Israel has agreed to provide intelligence gathering and analysis assistance.

January 6, 2012: In the northeast, Boko Haram attacked a church and killed ten people.

January 4, 2012: In the north, four bombs went off in the northern cities of Maiduguri, Damaturu causing at least one death. A gun attack left two dead in Damaturu.

January 3, 2012:  The army has moved two brigades (over 6,000 troops) into northern areas where Boko Haram has been active.

January 1, 2012: Boko Haram announced that Christians living in the Moslem north had three days to leave, or face attack by the Islamic radicals. Most northern Christians stayed put and organized local security.

As part of a government spending cut program, decades old subsidies on fuel were eliminated. This doubled the cost of most fuels, with petrol (gasoline) going from 45 cents per liter ($1.70 per gallon) to at least 94 cents per liter ($3.50 per gallon). The subsidies consumed $8 billion a year, about a quarter of government spending. Other cuts will involve the pay of senior officials and their fringe benefits (especially overseas travel). The fuel subsidy cuts caused demonstrations and attacks, but the government did not back off.

In the southeast, Ezza and Ezilo tribesmen battled each other over an old land dispute, leaving over fifty dead.

December 31, 2011: The government declared a state of emergency in the parts of four northern states where Boko Haram is most active.

December 28, 2011: Meanwhile, thousands of Christians have fled the northern Nigerian city of Damaturu because of recent Boko Haram attacks.

December 27, 2011: The Sultan of Sokoto, the senior Nigerian Moslem cleric denounced Boko Haram as outlaws and a fringe religious group that does not represent mainstream Moslems. Other senior clerics agreed, and many were particularly critical of attacking churches. A madrassa (Moslem religious school) in the south was attacked, apparently in retaliation for the Christmas Day (25 December) attack on Christian churches. No one took credit for the madrassa attack.

December 25, 2011: In the Moslem north, several attacks on Christian churches today and yesterday left over 40 dead and many more wounded. Boko Haram took credit for the attacks. Similar attacks by Boko Haram last year killed twice as many people. This year's attack came a few days after an army operation in the north that killed fifty Boko Haram members and captured bombs and bomb making workshops.

 

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