Nigeria: Fight To The Death

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April 18, 2012: While Boko Haram demonstrates its use of terrorism quite openly the security forces, especially the army, are more discreet about their use of kidnapping (illegal arrest) and murder. People tend to disappear when soldiers are on a mission and in a bad mood. Often there are witnesses to the troops taking someone away for questioning. People have learned that complaining to the army when the arrested don't return can get you picked up (and disappeared) as well. For many Nigerians the battle between the army and Boko Haram is just two terrorist groups killing each other and random civilians. But the fanaticism of Boko Haram is more feared than the corruption of the security forces. While politicians and media keep calling for reform of the military there is no hope of "reforming" Boko Haram.

April 17, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri four Boko Haram men were killed and 13 arrested.

In Britain a notoriously corrupt former governor of Delta State (James Ibori) was convicted of corruption (and money laundering in Britain) and sentenced to 13 years in prison and forfeiture of the stolen money (or at least as much as can be found). Ibori has been prosecuted for corruption in Nigeria but was able to bribe his way out of it. He fled the country but was arrested in the Persian Gulf (Dubai) and extradited to Britain. Nigeria encourages foreign countries to prosecute its corrupt officials, who are vulnerable to this once they have left office (like Ibori did five years ago after serving for eight plunderful years).

April 16, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri Boko Haram killed two people as part of an attempt to deter informers.

April 15, 2012: In the northern city of Kano a Boko Haram bomb wounded three people.

April 14, 2012:  The new spokesman for Boko Haram (Mohammed Anwal Kontagora) was executed by his fellow Islamic radicals on the orders of the Boko Haram leader. Kontagora was being pursued by the security services and Boko Haram leadership believed that he might turn against the Islamic radicals if captured. Apparently Kontagora had expressed some unease at the use of terror attacks that killed Moslem civilians. The previous Boko Haram spokesman had been arrested three months ago, and Kontagora was not enthusiastic about taking over the job. Finding a replacement for Kontagora will be difficult, since whoever takes the job becomes a target for the security forces. The death of Kontagora also spotlights the internal divisions Boko Haram suffers from. There are several factions, caused by tribal and doctrinal differences. The attitudes range from reform to revolution and the latter group is willing to kill lots of people in order to establish an Islamic state. The reformers point out that this has not worked anywhere but that reform has a better chance of success. Since the revolutionaries tend to be fanatics these appeals to reason have little impact.

April 13, 2012: MEND (Niger Delta tribal rebels) threatened to attack South African companies if South Africa does not halt the prosecution of the MEND leader Henry Okah. He was arrested on October 2nd, 2010, in conjunction with the car bomb blasts in Nigeria the day before. Okah's diary and other documents were also seized, they indicated he was still involved in terrorist activity inside Nigeria. This included documents from Chinese arms exporters offering to make illegal weapons sales to Nigerian rebels. Okah had been freed from a Nigerian jail in July, 2009, after accepting the government amnesty. All charges were withdrawn but he fled to exile in South Africa a few months later. Okah denied any involvement in recent bombings, and MEND then split into factions, some of which defied orders from MEND leadership and continued attacks. Many MEND members feel that Okah is an opportunist who imported guns for criminal gangs, as well as MEND, and stole a lot of MEND money for himself. As a result, many MEND members have since accepted the government amnesty but the MEND hard core is still in business, and this group contains a lot of Okah followers. MEND has been demanding that the army withdraw from the Delta and all prisoners be freed or else there will be a new wave of attacks on oil facilities. Not much has come of these threats. The MEND rebels want the terms of the 2009 amnesty deal enforced and corrupt officials running the program removed. In response to those threats the military keeps attacking MEND associated camps in the Niger delta, seizing lots of weapons and equipment but not making many arrests. The rebels tend to hear the troops coming (usually by boat, usually after some aerial reconnaissance) and slip away into an area of numerous creeks and islands they know well. Many criminals in the delta also support rebel goals (for more autonomy in the Delta, less corruption, and spending additional oil money locally). Even though the government has screwed up their end of the amnesty deal they insist that the rebels keep the peace. But corruption and mismanagement have kept many rebels from getting the amnesty benefits and the government is seen as unreliable, corrupt, and a hostile force. The MEND threats have been much more ambitious than the actual attacks and it is believed that only a few people are involved in attacks on oil facilities (which are well guarded these days).

April 12, 2012: In an Internet video Boko Haram responded to president Goodluck Johnson's promise to defeat the Islamic radical group by June. The Boko Haram video warned that the Islamic radicals would overthrow the government in three months and kill any Christians and Moslems who were trying to fight Boko Haram. This apparently rules out any negotiations in the near future.

In the north Boko Haram shot dead two men for ignoring orders to stop attending public places where televised football (soccer) games are shown. Islamic radicals considered such sports un-Islamic. Over the last few days Boko Haram activists had been distributing pamphlets warning people to stop attending the community center where the matches were shown. The viewing centers are a popular attraction in Nigeria and often the only way for people to see European soccer games (where teams often feature hugely popular African players).

April 11, 2012:  In the northeastern town of Banki (on the Cameroon border) several dozen people have been killed or wounded by Boko Haram violence in the last few days. The Islamic radicals attacked border posts and police stations.

The commander of the army issued a message for the troops pointing out that negotiations with Boko Haram had not worked and that now the military was at war with the Islamic radicals and that it was a fight to the death. Many Christian troops are enraged at the Boko Haram attacks in the north on Easter Sunday, that left 40 dead and many more wounded. Moslem troops are also angry because most of the Boko Haram victims tend to be Moslem civilians.

 

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