Nigeria: Victory Will Have To Be Rescheduled

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January 29, 2014: Boko Haram has become a major threat along the Niger border, regularly raiding villages to obtain supplies and terrorize the locals. These attacks usually result in dead civilians and property destruction and theft. The Islamic terrorist group is also moving back into at least one city (Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, the “home” of Boko Haram) and proving resistant to the army tactics of searching for Boko Haram camps and attacking them. Boko Haram keeps moving their camps and some are across the border in Cameroon and Niger, where the local security forces are not enthusiastic about taking on these Nigerian religious fanatics. Nigerian officials have been seeking advice from the U.S. It’s also been noted that American UAVs (based in Niger) have been very useful in Mali.   

Nigeria has also taken note of an American surveillance technique used in Iraq and Afghanistan and erected eight towers along the coast equipped with cameras that can spot ships out to 48 kilometers at sea. This enables the navy to better deal with the growing number of pirates operating out there. The towers have been placed at the areas of highest offshore activity. Thus there are four to cover the waters off the major port of Lagos. The oil export terminals at Bonny and Brass each have one. There is another at Yenagoa, one in Ibaka and one in eastern Akwa Ibom state.

Boko Haram has caught the attention of Christians worldwide. That’s because in 2013 over 2,100 Christians were killed worldwide for their beliefs. Some 29 percent of those deaths were in Nigeria. Another 57 percent were in Syria, where regional hostility towards Christians has long been very intense. Some 90 percent of the worldwide Christian deaths (for religious reasons) were at the hands of Islamic terrorists and al Qaeda in Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria are the worst offender s accounting for 85 percent of the martyred Christians in 2013 . This has led to increased fear, anxiety and paranoia in the largely Christian south. Nearly a third of the world population is Christian and at least 100 million of them are constantly threatened by anti-Christian militants.

In 2013 trade (exports and imports) with China were $13 billion. That has doubled in the past four years. President Johnson pointed out that only 11 percent of African trade is within Africa and this has created a culture of dependence on importing many goods from elsewhere (like China) and the need to export raw materials to pay for the imports. Johnson believes that removing all the laws and regulations that limit entrepreneurs in African could bring a lot of this trade back to Africa. While most Nigerians agree that the country could use more economic freedom, they also believe government corruption is at the root of all Africa’s economic problems.

So far this year more than 6,000 civilians have fled the northeast (Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states) to neighboring Cameroon and Niger to get away from Boko Haram violence. There are now at least 20,000 Nigerian refugees who have fled like this and many more are expected to cross the border if Boko Haram is not suppressed soon.

January 26, 2014: In the north (Borno state) over 40 Boko Haram gunmen in several four wheel drive vehicles and pretending to be traders drove into a town marketplace and opened fire. They first shot at the soldiers on duty there and then at everyone else. They killed 85 and wounded many more using AK-47s. Then they used explosives and fire bombs to damage or destroy much of the market and some 300 nearby buildings. The Islamic terrorists then took a few hostages and drove off into a nearby forest. To the south, in Adamawa state another group of Boko Haram gunmen attacked a Catholic church and killed 22 worshippers.

In the south (Rivers state) police stopped a convoy of 17 busses carrying 320 people from the north (Jigawa State) and arrested them all on suspicion of being members of Boko Haram. Further investigation revealed that the men and women on the bus were traders from the north who had lived and worked in Port Harcourt for years and were returning south in a convoy for safety from bandits. Traders are favorite kidnapping victims north and south because they can pay larger ransoms. Jigawa State is in the north but has very little Boko Haram activity and what there is of it is police arresting Boko Haram members trying to hide or simply move through Jigawa State. While all this was going on there was a similar paranoia outbreak in southern Imo state where people in the area noted that 84 young men from northern Katsina State had recently arrived for a training course at a local school. The young men were suspected of being Boko Haram and police, to avoid any vigilante incidents, ordered the 84 men to return north. Katsina State authorities protested that the 84 men were definitely not Boko Haram and that there had been very little Boko Haram activity in Katsina State over the last few years.

Near the oil terminal at Port Harcourt, seven pirates attacked a tugboat and kidnapped the captain and engineer.

January 21, 2014: Air Marshall Alex Badeh, the head (chief of staff) of the military was sworn in and announced that he would devise a way to quickly (as in by April) eliminate the Boko Haram threat. Badeh is himself from the north (Adamawa state, an area where Boko Haram is very active.) April, it turned out over the next week, might be a bit too ambitious.

January 20, 2014: Vandalized natural gas pipelines, which exploded after being punctured, cut power for electricity generating plants and reduced available electricity by 30 percent. While oil pipelines are breached 4-5 times a day (mainly to steal oil) there have been no attacks on natural gas pipelines for over five years. Like some of the oil pipeline attacks, the gas pipeline attacks have all been pure vandalism. The problem here is corruption and the fact that little of the income from the oil and gas reaches the people where these natural resources are found or where the pipelines are. So it is not unusual for the pipelines to be vandalized simply to protest the corruption and bad government.

January 19, 2014: In the northeast (Borno State) Boko Haram attacked a village and killed 18 people. Many structures were burned and some of the residents fled across the nearby border to Niger.

January 18, 2014: Contact was lost with an Italian tanker off the coast of Angola and it was feared that Nigerian pirates were the cause. On the 26th the tanker was found with its 27 man crew safe but its 60,000 ton cargo of diesel gone. The crew said they were taken by pirates but further investigation revealed that it was apparently a scam by the crew to steal the cargo and blame it on pirates.

January 17, 2014: In the north (Maiduguri) a car bomb went off killing 40 people and wounding even more. Yesterday Boko Haram gunmen on motorcycles attacked a police station 160 kilometers southwest of Maiduguri with gunfire and a bomb, killing six people.

 

 

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