Nigeria: Part Of The Problem, Not The Solution

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June 30, 2014: Boko Haram are still trying to negotiate a prisoner swap for the 219 girls they are holding since April. The government has understandably refused to such a trade as that would mean Boko Haram would simply keep kidnapping women in order to get any captured Islamic terrorists released. The government has completed its investigation into the mass kidnapping last April. The conclusion was that 219 girls are still being held. Beyond that the government has not got much to report. Despite foreign help with intelligence and air reconnaissance there has been no reported progress in finding or rescuing the captives.  Of course if a major rescue effort is in the works it would be a good idea to keep details out of the news.

The U.S. has contributed vehicles, communications gear and protective vests to Nigeria for use by elite units fighting Boko Haram. The U.S. is also providing training and intelligence support. American UAVs and manned aircraft have completed their survey of the three northern states where Boko Haram is most active and have shared that data with other nations providing aerial reconnaissance help. The problem now is for Nigerian ground forces to make use of the data collected. This the Nigerians are reluctant to do because the Boko Haram fighters use booby traps ambushes to defend their rural bases. It’s a bloody business going after Boko Haram where they live. Not a lot of Nigerian army or police commanders are eager to take this on. There is also fear of failure, especially when it comes to rescuing all the women being held hostage. Nevertheless the Nigerians have improved their intelligence collecting. Part of this is the result of American electronic eavesdropping technology, which provides a lot of tips on what Boko Haram may be up to and where these Islamic terrorists are operating. This has enabled Nigerian intelligence to develop more informants on the ground. Most Moslems, and nearly all Christians, fear and hate Boko Haram and will pass on information to the army or police. Foreign intelligence agencies have helped the Nigerians improve their ability to collect and process all these tips and this is providing more timely warnings on what the Islamic terrorists are up to. Bombs that are found and disabled and attacks that are otherwise disrupted is not the sort of thing that makes the headlines, but a lot more of it has been happening. What is not so easily fixed is the poor leadership and training found in so many police and army units, as well as the culture of corruption and impunity in the security forces. For the soldiers and police the scariest thing about Boko Haram is their fearlessness and readiness to fight back if attacked. Nigerian soldiers and police are not used to this sort of attitude and are having trouble adapting to it.

The continuing Boko Haram violence in the north has killed more than 2,000 people so far this year and created over 250,000 refugees. Most have fled to other areas in Nigeria but about a quarter have fled the country (mainly Cameroon). A disproportionate number of the refugees are Christians, who are frequent targets of Boko Haram. Christian leaders, especially those in the north, disagree with Moslem leaders who blame the rise of Boko Haram on misrule by the current Christian president. It is pointed out that the educational and economic disparities between the north and south existed before the country was created by the British and made independent in the 1960s. Christians accuse Moslems, especially Moslem leaders, of always blaming Moslem problems on outsiders and ignoring internal shortcomings. Leaving the Moslem community blameless means the problems never get fixed. Christian leaders also point out that the Islamic leaders of the north are generally as corrupt as the southern (Christian) politicians they accuse of causing all the problems in the north. Moreover the northern religious leaders, because they are often traditional tribal leaders as well, have political as well as religious duties and that makes them more prone to corrupt behavior, which is what Boko Haram is fighting against. Several of these northern religious leaders have been attacked by Boko Haram and some killed. Others have been secretly allied with Boko Haram, some out of conviction but others out of fear. Christian leaders believe that until their northern counterparts adopt a more clearheaded view of the Boko Haram problem those northern leaders will be more part of the problem than of any solution.

Meanwhile some real problem with the Christian president go back to May, 2010 when ailing (since November 2009) Moslem president Umaru Yar'Adua died and his Christian vice president Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as president. Jonathan had to work with the legislature to get sufficient power three months earlier to run the country. Yar'Adua's cronies were trying to use presidential power for their own ends, because Yar'Adua had not signed the document turning power over to the vice president when he took ill in 2009. Yar'Adua being a Moslem from the north and Jonathan a Christian from the south had a lot to do with it. Yar'Adua's term was up in 2011 and that meant elections. There has long been an understanding that Moslems and Christians would take turns holding the presidency. Many Moslem politicians are pushing for Goodluck Jonathan to not run for election, as his one year of presidential power should be followed by another Moslem president. The Christians disagree with this, especially since the corrupt Yar'Adua government (which began promising reform) was being cleaned up by an energetic, and seemingly clean, Jonathan. That did not last long and once elected in his own right Jonathan, beneath a veneer of incorruptibility proved to be as dirty (well, not quite as dirty) as his predecessors. That is particularly annoying to the Moslem leaders who know that Moslem politicians make less when the chief thief (president) is a Christian.

June 29, 2014: In the north (Borno state) about 20 Boko Haram in several vehicles attacked three villages, burned down five churches and killed or wounded over a hundred Christians in the process.

June 28, 2014: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram raided a village and over three days killed at least 30 local men, kidnapped over 60 women, 30 teenage boys and burned the place down as they left.

June 27, 2014: In the north (Bauchi state) a Boko Haram bomb went off in a brothel, killing eleven and wounding 38. Elsewhere in the north (Kano state) a large Boko Haram bomb was found hidden in a truck and disabled.

June 25, 2014: In the capital a bomb was set off at the entrance to a shopping center, where a large crowd was gathered to watch a televised World Cup game. The explosion killed 22 and wounded many more. Police shot what they thought was one of the attackers and captured another. A similar attack took place on the 17th in the north but this is the third Islamic terrorist attack in the capital this year. Boko Haram considers football and the World Cup to be evil Western influences on Moslems.

June 24, 2014: Across the border in Cameroon the police shut down a major market place for two days and arrested over 40 Nigerians and accused them of being Boko Haram. The police and army are thoroughly searching the large market for weapons which they believe Boko Haram hid there between raids into Nigeria. Elsewhere in Cameroon there were three clashes with armed Boko Haram groups along the border in the last three days, leaving ten of the Islamic terrorists dead.

June 23, 2014: In the north (Kano state) a Boko Haram suicide car bomb went off outside a medical school, killing eight and wounding dozens more. Boko Haram considers all Western education harmful to Moslems.

Elsewhere in the north another Boko Haram attack was less successful, although 33 villagers and 24 Boko Haram died before the attackers were driven off.

June 22, 2014: In the north (Borno state) a suicide car bomber attacked an army checkpoint on the Cameroon border, killing three soldiers and wounding three others.

June 21, 2014: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked two villages, killing over 25 people, wounding many more and setting fire to many buildings. The army and air force showed up after about six hours and chased the Islamic terrorists away.

June 20, 2014: Police report that 18 percent of the 486 people they arrested on June 15 in the south (Abia state, near the coast but without a coastline) were Boko Haram members. The police had halted a convoy of 35 vans and buses carrying 486 people and arrested everyone. Two of the vehicles managed to escape. Subsequent investigations quickly discovered that one of the people in the caravan was a wanted Boko Haram leader. Everyone in the convoy claimed to be Moslem northerners fleeing the violence up there and headed for the Port Harcourt looking for work. All were held and checked out on suspicion that this was an effort to get a large number of Boko Haram into the far south. The police now believe they have disrupted a major Boko Haram operation. Convoys like this are not unusual as it is safer to travel from the north like this to lessen the danger from bandits. If Boko Haram wanted to get to the south safely the convoys would be a good way to go. Then again Nigerian police often begin with bold press releases and end with false leads and unsustainable accusations.

 

 

 

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