Nigeria: Sexy Beasts

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April 22, 2014:   The army is asking that the federal government suspend the governors of the three northeastern states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe ) under emergency rule. The army holds the governors responsible for the many officials in those states who are cooperating with Boko Haram (to avoid attack) or taking bribes from the Islamic terrorists. Some of these officials are covering themselves in case Boko Haram should gain power and the governors are often just responding to civilian fears of army misconduct. Those three states are where most of the Boko Haram violence is and have been under emergency rule since May 2013. Residents of those three states have justifiable complaints about the army, in particular the casual attitude of the military towards the safety of civilians and their property. The army is also unreliable when it comes to sharing information on casualties. Thus Boko Haram related deaths so far this year are believed to be (based on local reports) at least 1,500, which is 50 percent more than what the army reports. Boko Haram related deaths from 2010 to 2013 were about 3,600, so the violence is not declining. The government has been saying, for several years, that Boko Haram would be crushed within a year and never happens. More insightful observers point out that the problem is mainly one of corruption and poverty, as well as the appeal of Islamic radicalism as a magical cure. All of Nigeria suffers from corruption. Poverty is more prevalent in the Moslem north, in part because of climate. That’s because the semi-desert Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert is found in the north. Another problem is the more conservative nature of Islamic populations and the lower education levels. Many northerners understand that if the corruption and bad government went away things would automatically get better. So far few northern politicians have become enthusiastic about cracking down on corruption. That’s a common sentiment of politicians throughout Nigeria and the main reason Boko Haram is not going to be eliminated anytime soon.

In the last month security forces in the Niger River Delta have seized seven barges and ships carrying stolen oil to oil brokers in neighboring countries. Along the coast 85 refinery operations have been found and destroyed and 196 people arrested. Oil companies believe about 150,000 barrels of oil a day are being stolen by thieves who tap into oil pipelines. That’s over five billion dollars a year in lost oil revenue. Most of what the government receives from this is stolen by politicians and civil servants, so people living in the oil producing regions as an anti-corruption measure.

In Cameroon the government is being criticized because recent claims of large (over 5,000 weapons) arms seizures near the Nigerian border could not be verified by reporters. Civilians living in villages near where the government said the seizures took place said they saw nothing. The government responded that the smugglers operated in remote areas and avoided civilians as well as security forces. There are also concerns that even if weapons were seized they would, as often happens, be sold back to black market arms dealers so that government officials could keep the cash. Cameroon is also concerned about pro-Boko Haram clerics from Nigeria quietly preaching and recruiting for Boko Haram in Cameroon mosques. Islamic conservative clergy are not unusual on either side of the border, but those who do not denounce Boko Haram are suspected of quietly recruiting young men to join the “jihad” (struggle) and fight (and often die) in Nigeria. These preachers have to recruit quietly because otherwise police in Cameroon will arrest and deport them, sometimes after a vigorous interrogation. Evidence of this recruiting is showing up when some of the recruits return from Nigeria with tales of disillusionment and adversity while with Boko Haram.

April 20, 2014: In the north (Bauchi state) unidentified gunmen attacked a girl’s boarding school and burned down several buildings but left the female students alone and left without kidnapping anyone. While Boko Haram has made attacks in Bauchi state it’s unclear who was responsible for this one.

April 16, 2014: The army falsely reported that most of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on the 14th had been freed.

April 15, 2014: Canada has warned its citizens to avoid travelling to Nigeria. With the exception of a few cities, the entire country is considered quite dangerous because of high crime rates and Islamic terrorists (Boko Haram).

April 14, 2014: In the capital a large car bomb explosion at a bus depot killed 75 people. Boko Haram later took credit for their first attack in the capital in two years. In the northeast (the Sambisa forest where the borders of Borno, Yobe and Adamwa states meet) Boko Haram raided a boarding school for teenage girls and kidnapped over a hundred students and some of the young women on the faculty. The captives, aged 16-18, would be used for sex and slave labor (around the camps). This is a common practice in Africa. Over the next few days several dozen of the girls escaped but 85 remain missing and the army is being criticized for the inept way they are handing the search (not interviewing all the escaped girls and not sending troops to guard the school).

April 10, 2014: In the northeast Boko Haram made three attacks. Two were on villages near the Cameroon border, in which 130 people were killed while the other was at a teachers college, where eight died and several women were kidnapped.

 

 

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