Nigeria: Clean Terrorists Defeat Dirty Soldiers

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March 7, 2014: Interrogations of captured Boko Haram have revealed that the Islamic terrorists are continuing to operate in part because they practice what they preach; much less corruption and more efficient administration. Compared with many soldiers and police Boko Haram gunmen are better paid and paid on time. Boko Haram leaders make sure their gunmen are fed regularly and see to it that the families (especially widows) are paid death benefits and great efforts are made to care for the wounded and remove the dead from the battlefield so the army can’t identify Boko Haram men and go after family. Even worse, all these resources (cash and weapons) appear to come from Nigeria, not foreign sources. The Islamic terrorists mostly use weapons captured from the security forces and obtain cash via kidnapping, robbery and plunder. The preferred targets are Christians and anyone working for the government. In contrast soldiers and police often find themselves getting paid late, or not at all. Army and police commanders still steal pay and sell off weapons and supplies meant for their subordinates. Such officers tend to be poor leaders all around and the soldiers and police they are in charge of have low morale and poor performance. As a result checkpoints are often abandoned at the least sign of danger and many soldiers and police are intimidated by Boko Haram. Boko Haram propaganda puts it quite accurately when corruption and bad government are accused of being the two things most wrong about Nigeria. Until the government can scrounge up some army and police commanders who are honest and competent the security forces are going to continue to fail in their attempts to eliminate the Boko Haram terror. So far this year the Boko Haram attacks have left over 300 dead. The Boko Haram violence began in 2010 and since then over 1,600 have died.

Meanwhile the government further damages its credibility by again setting a date by which they assure people they will have suppressed Boko Haram terrorism. The current date is May 2014 and few people in the affected areas believe that. The government ignores problems with corruption and bad leadership and instead blames Cameroon for not allowing Nigerian forces to purse fleeing Boko Haram gunmen into Cameroon and not finding and shutting down Boko Haram camps in Cameroon. The government ignores the fact that Cameroon has far fewer resources (population, GDP) and does not want Nigerian troops in Cameroon because of the Nigerian Army reputation for randomly killing and abusing civilians and bad behavior in general. On the Cameroon side of the border there are many places to hide and few people living in the area to provide information. Many Nigerians, especially those living along the Cameroon border in the northeast, understand this. The Nigerian government probably does as well, but excuses are needed to explain the continued Boko Haram terror.

The security forces are doing some damage to Boko Haram. The Islamic terrorists are hated by a lot of the people the Islamic terrorists presume to be “liberating” and the police get plenty of tips. Arrests are made and Boko Haram operations are often blocked by soldiers or police who arrive in time and fight back. Boko Haram is having a hard time reestablishing itself in the cities because their many terror attacks there have made them lots of enemies among the population. Informing on suspected Boko Haram is a popular activity in urban areas and even corrupt and incompetent cops can get lucky.

In response to the recent attack on a boarding school, at least five of these schools in the northeast have temporarily closed. Boko Haram, like the Taliban they model themselves on, oppose non-religious education and education for girls. Attacking these schools and slaughtering students discourages parents from sending their children to these schools. This is not persuasion but sheer terror. Boko Haram wants to change behavior and has no problem using terror when persuasion fails.

March 5, 2014: In the northeast (Borno and Adamawa states) the army has success in two operations and killed at least twenty of the Islamic terrorists and captured weapons, equipment and documents.

March 4, 2014: The search for money stolen by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha continues, with the recent action by the United States to freeze $458 million found in British and French banks. Another $100 million has been found by American and Nigerian investigators and is expected to be frozen soon and eventually sent back to Nigeria. Although Abacha died in office in 1998 and was succeeded by reform governments the corruption he practiced continued. Abacha was believed to have stolen over $3 billion and his family continues to try and keep stolen cash hidden from Nigerian investigators trying to get it back. That does not always work. In 2009 the government found $2 billion in stolen Abacha funds in Swiss bank accounts and convinced the Swiss to give the money back. That took longer than expected because the first $290 million returned promptly disappeared. The Swiss saw that the recovered stolen money was being stolen again and refused to resume payouts until assured that the money would be put to legitimate uses. Much of the money hidden in Switzerland has been found, a process that did not get into high gear until 2006.

March 3, 2014: In the north (Katsina state) three policemen were killed while pursuing gunmen who had attacked a checkpoint. The killers are believed to be Boko Haram, which has rarely been active in Katsina but does occasionally show up in other parts of the north besides the three states where the Islamic terrorists have always been most active.

March 2, 2014: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked a village. The few soldiers stationed there fled and the Islamic terrorists killed 32 residents of Mafa and burned down most of the buildings there. The Boko Haram left behind one bomb that went off the next day killing two of the policemen who had arrived to help survivors. A week earlier Boko Haram had left leaflets in the village warning people that an attack was coming. The leaflets didn’t say when and while many people fled some had returned when the attack actually took place.  

Just across the border in Cameroon a villager alerted the army when a group of 30 armed men passed nearby. The armed strangers were coming from the nearby Nigerian border and the army correctly deduced that this was another Boko Haram outfit heading for a sanctuary in rural Cameroon. The army intercepted the Boko Haram men and in a brief fight killed five of them while suffering one dead. Two of the Boko Haram men were captured as the group retreated back into Nigeria. Interrogation of the prisoners revealed that this group had carried out an attack in Nigeria earlier in the day that left dozens of civilians dead.  

In the south (Ondo State) police arrested four pirates who had been robbing passengers and crew of small boats operating off the coast and were pointed out by former victims who recognized them. Larger ships have been adopting more security measures and this had made it more difficult for pirates to attack these vessels.

February 28, 2014: In the north (Borno state) several Boko Haram attacks left over a hundred dead. Two of the attacks were bombs (in a market place and a theater) set off in the state capital (Maiduguri).

February 25, 2014: In the north (Yobe state) Boko Haram attacked a government boarding school at 2 AM and killed 43 faculty and male students. The female college students were not killed.

 

 

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