Nigeria: The Enemy Within


September 9, 2014: In the last few weeks Boko Haram has taken control of many rural areas in the northeast (Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states) and temporarily seized control of several towns. This was done by Boko Haram groups that can muster several hundred gun, moving quickly in dozens of vehicles (cars, SUVs, trucks). Some of the trucks mount heavy machine-guns. The goal of all this is the establishment of an Islamic state based on the largest city in area. That would be Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the birthplace of Boko Haram. The problem is that the army retakes the seized towns, except for those that are insignificant (too small or not on a main road). In more and more cases the army garrisons are able to defeat these attacks.

Meanwhile in Yobe state Buni Yadi was taken in late August and not recaptured. Most of the action was in Borno state. Damboa was captured in July and retaken. Near Lake Chad Marte was taken and forgotten, Gamboru Ngala was taken and abandoned, same with nearby Dikwa. Southeast of Maiduguri, on the Cameroon border, Bama was taken in early September and is still being fought over. Gwoza was taken in early August, is still held and was declared the capital of the new Boko Haram Islamic state. A bit to the south Madagali was captured in early September and still held by the Islamic terrorists.

So far this year Boko Haram violence has caused some 2,100 deaths and left large areas in the northeast, especially in Borno state and along the Cameroon border, depopulated. These raids have forced over 600,000 people from their homes for extended periods. People in smaller towns and villages flee to larger towns or the state capital (Maiduguri). This is the result of more Boko Haram raids on smaller towns in the area. Boko Haram sustains itself by theft and raiding a town, killing all who oppose them and grabbing what they need is what passes for Boko Haram “going shopping.” While the looting takes place some Boko Haram men seek out and murder local leaders (of the police, mosques, or vigilante groups).

In the larger towns Boko Haram sometimes ask the people to stay but few accept that invitation because the Islamic terrorists expect people to live according to restrictive lifestyle rules. Infractions are severely punished. Enforcement varies from one Boko Haram group to another but one of the more fanatical leaders ordered two men executed for smoking and that news got around quickly.

Over the last few months the government fired some senior commanders in the northeast. The new commanders are being given an opportunity to demonstrate an ability to better deal with the Boko Haram threat. So far there have been some changes which led to more defeats of the Islamic terrorist groups. But Boko Haram remains a potent and growing threat in the northeast. If the security forces cannot turn things around soon there will probably be more new commanders by the end of the year. So far Nigeria has resisted accepting foreign advisors. Some embassies have had their military attaches (officers serving under diplomatic immunity) to informally advise and there have tried to help but the senior officers are hostile to “foreign interference.” The military attaches have reported that the Nigerian military has a lot of bad habits and some very poor senior leaders. The elected leaders are a different story and have accepted American and NATO offers of military advisors. But the Nigerian military has not followed through. It’s not just pride, but the Nigerian officers have a lot of hide (corruption, incompetence and poor leadership skills). All this is no secret as Western military personnel have encountered these problems when dealing with Nigerian troops on peacekeeping missions. In effect the politicians calling for some competence in the fight against Boko Haram face resistance from their own officers as well as the Islamic terrorists.

September 7, 2014: In the northeast (Adamawa state) two small towns (Mubi and Michika) were raided and looted by Boko Haram in the last 48 hours. Soldiers sent to retake Michika were ambushed and suffered at least 24 dead. In neighboring Borno state twenty Boko Haram gunmen were killed when they tried to take the town of Biu but were driven away by soldiers.

Across the border in Cameroon the army there says they have killed about a hundred Boko Haram over the weekend as several groups of Islamic terrorists found near the border were attacked.

September 6, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) soldiers on their way to recapture Bama came across and raided a Boko Haram camp 35 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri. This action killed at least fifty Islamic terrorists and captured several vehicles and lots of weapons, ammo and equipment. Bama was later liberated from Boko Haram.

September 5, 2014: The air force carried out attacks on Boko Haram forces in Borno state. This was in support of troops attacking Boko Haram forces in Bama, the second largest town in Borno and only 70 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri. Civilians complain that often air force jets will fly over a town occupied by Boko Haram but do nothing except circle the place, high enough to be safe from ground fire.

September 1, 2014: In Maiduguri the army expanded the curfew two hours so that it is now 7 PM to 6 AM.

Across the border in Cameroon Boko Haram attacked the town of Fotokol but soldiers showed up, killed at least 40 of the Islamic terrorists and chased the survivors back into Nigeria. One soldier was wounded and several Boko Haram vehicles were captured and destroyed.

August 31, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked Bama. Troops repelled the first attack but the Islamic terrorists returned with reinforcements and overnight and into Monday drove out soldiers and police. The attackers suffered over a hundred casualties (most of them killed) in taking the town. It was several days before the army showed up with reinforcements. Meanwhile over 25,000 civilians fled Bama.

August 27, 2014: Across the border in Cameroon soldiers fired mortar shells at Boko Haram men in the Nigerian town of Gamboru Ngala. The Islamic terrorists suffered several casualties and were discouraged from raiding into Cameroon. Nevertheless over a hundred Boko Haram gunmen entered Cameroon but were attacked by soldiers who killed at least 27 of the Islamic terrorists and drove the rest back into Nigeria.

In the south one of the major foreign oil firms (Royal Dutch Shell) in Nigeria is selling some $5 billion worth of its Nigerian oil facilities. Shell is fed up with the persistent oil theft, which leaves pipeline punctured and inoperable for days at a time until repairs are made. Locals tend to blame Shell for the mess rather than the oil thieves. Two other foreign oil companies (Total and Eni) are also selling Nigerian assets and another $10 billion in oil properties are expected to be up for sale in the next two years.  The foreign oil companies see the government as unwilling or unable to deal with the oil theft (local politicians are now believed involved and protecting some of the gangs) or the massive theft of oil income by government officials.

August 25, 2014: On the Cameroon border Boko Haram seized the town of Gamboru Ngala. This town was pretty much abandoned, largely as a result of a Boko Haram attack in May that left 300 residents dead. Some 500 soldiers and thousands of civilians fled to Cameroon after Boko Haram attacked the nearby towns of Ashigashyia and Kerawa. Ashigashyia is on the river with half the town in Nigeria and the other half in Cameroon. Boko Haram tried to advance into the Cameroon part of town but were repulsed by Cameroonian soldiers.

August 24, 2014: Boko Haram released a video declaring the establishment of an Islamic state in the north east with its first capital in the town of Gwoza. This action is heavily influenced by a similar move in Iraq by Islamic terrorists there.

August 21, 2014: In the northeast (Yobe state) Buni Yadi Boko Haram raided and looted the place regularly over the last month but now has moved in permanently. Not many civilians left in the town and these will flee is the army tries to liberate the place.







Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close