Nigeria: Burning Passion


March 7, 2012:  Boko Haram says it will continue to attack secular schools in the northeastern city of Maiduguri as long as the government shuts down Islamic schools operated by Islamic radicals. Northerners fear that the attacks on secular schools will continue no matter what because "Boko Haram" means, literally, "Western education is forbidden." So far, at least 10,000 students are being kept home because parents fear more Boko Haram attacks on schools. Seven schools have been burned or blown up so far.

While the government admits that corruption and lack of economic development in the north is what sustains support for Boko Haram, efforts to invest in more economic development are stymied by corrupt politicians and business magnates. Most of the northern leadership is corrupt and would rather pay for more security to fight Boko Haram than to clean up their corrupt practices.

The cause of most problems in Nigeria is corruption. Most everyone admits that corruption is the nation's major problem and there is much popular enthusiasm for halting corrupt practices. But this is happening very slowly. Too many people, including judges, prosecutors, and anti-corruption officials, are willing to take a bribe. Corruption is like a drug that most Nigerians agree is harmful, but not enough people have the willpower to get away from.

The government response to Boko Haram is to establish hundreds of checkpoints and run heavily armed patrols in areas the Islamic terrorists were known to operate in. There are also more armed guards at government building facilities. While Boko Haram declares it is at war with non-Moslems, the chief targets are secular and mainly the security forces and government operations. That is largely because the government is seeking out Boko Haram as the Islamic group threatens government control in the north.

In the north at least 11,000 migrants from Niger and Chad have returned to their home countries to avoid the Boko Haram violence and accusations that the foreigners were involved (they apparently are not).

In central Nigeria Fulani tribal militias are again attacking villages belonging to the Tiv tribe, leaving nearly fifty dead in the last week and thousands of refugees. The tribal feuds over land are made worse by religious differences. The local governments have kept a lid on the violence for the last few years, but the unresolved land disputes, plus cultural differences between the Fulani herders and Tiv farmers, keep the animosity alive. The Fulani are more heavily armed and use force to drive the Tiv from land the Fulani want to use to graze their animals.

March 6, 2012: Boko Haram was suspected in the killing of the new chief customs inspector in the north. The attack on the man's home in Potiskum (Yobe state) left Customs controller Adamu Ahmadu and five bystanders dead. Ahmadu, a Christian, had imposed strict enforcement of regulations at the borders. This angered smugglers and anyone else who used bribes to get forbidden material (like weapons or explosives) across the border.

March 5, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri police killed three Boko Haram men and captured two others, who were trying to destroy a secular school.  

March 2, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri police caught four armed Boko Haram members and killed them in a gun battle. In the outskirts of the city a Boko Haram bomb workshop blew up killing four terrorists in what was apparently an accident. Locals revealed that the four men had been extorting money from neighborhood businesses and set up their bomb making operation.

March 1, 2012: MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) took credit for an attack on a police checkpoint, which left four policemen dead. Nearby, four soldiers were killed when they were ambushed by the pirates they were searching for.

February 29, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram set off a bomb and wounded a soldier. There was also a 30 minute gun battle.

February 28, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri Boko Haram bombed a primary school, which scared many parents into keeping their kids from school.



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