Nigeria: Leading The World In The Wrong Direction


December 2, 2014: More and more of the Boko Haram attacks are against members of pro-government militias in the northeast. This usually means attacks on towns or villages which have a lot of these volunteers. Officially called the Civilian JTF (Joint Task Force or CJTF), these volunteers receive little material support from the government. In early 2013 Boko Haram began to notice that in northeastern Borno and Yobe states thousands of Moslem and Christian young men were enthusiastically joining the CJTF to provide security from Boko Haram violence and provide information to the security forces about who Boko Haram members are and where they are living. That trend continues and now the CJTF and self-defense groups in general have become frequent targets of attacks. Boko Haram openly declared war on CJTF members and threatened to come to their homes and kill them. Most CJTF members cover their faces while assisting the security forces, especially in areas near where they live that contain Boko Haram sympathizers and supporters. While the Boko Haram threat certainly terrified some CJTF men (who generally have no firearms), the leadership publicly defied the Islamic terrorists over the threats.

The CJTF often operates with heavily armed police or soldiers nearby (ready to move in arrest Boko Haram suspects the vigilantes identify or fire back if Boko Haram attack). By the end of 2013 the army had begun to use the volunteers to replace troops at checkpoints. There are still some armed soldiers nearby, in case Boko Haram tries to attack the civilians, but this new policy has enabled more checkpoints to be set up and more through searches of vehicles to be conducted. This made it more difficult for Boko Haram to move around, plan and carry out attacks or to resupply the few men they still have in the cities. Boko Haram responded by attacking checkpoints more frequently and now there are a lot fewer checkpoints.

Despite the checkpoint setback by the end of 2014 some CJTF groups were launching attacks on Boko Haram, and usually winning (because they knew the area and people better and often were able to launch a surprise attack at night). All this CJTF activity made Boko Haram very mad and ready to kill CJTF members whenever they had the chance. But because the CJTF have better information about their home areas, it’s difficult for Boko Haram to make revenge attacks. The attacks are made anyway and often fail.

Another disturbing development is that in 2014 more CJTF men obtained weapons via the black market or captured from Boko Haram. It was not illegal for CJTF members to have firearms, but legal firearms are expensive and have to be registered. Rural people tend to ignore the rules and frequently use crude locally made one shot weapons for hunting or home defense. The army doesn’t care how the CJTF get weapons or that they have them. In some cases soldiers will unofficially help the CJTF get firearms, often from captured from Boko Haram stuff. This is sometimes done in defiance of their officers, who tend to regard such weapons as their own personal loot and will often take these weapons and sell them on the black market. While most civilians fear the army, they have more trust in and respect for the CJTF, who are usually local men they know. Boko Haram has far fewer admirers in the northeast as even Islamic conservatives up there see Boko Haram as heretical extremists who attack mosques and often kill worshippers. This is considered extremely offensive to most Moslems.

The government continues to feud with the United States for refusing to sell Nigeria advanced weapons. The latest bit of retaliation is the cancellation of the third phase of training by Americans of an army infantry battalion. Two weeks ago the government openly criticized the U.S. for refusing to sell Nigeria AH-64 helicopter gunships and other advanced weapons. The American explanation for that refusal angered Nigerian officials even more. The U.S. refused because of Nigeria’s dismal track record maintaining and operating such equipment. The Americans also mentioned the tendency of Nigerian troops to kill lots of innocent civilians with such weapons. The U.S. also pointed out that similar weapons are available from other sources but the U.S. did not want to get involved with the corruption and mismanagement so typical of Nigerian military procurement. The government was apparently more upset at the Americans openly discussing the corruption and lethal incompetence of the Nigerian military, something many Nigerians agree with but that the government insists does not exist. American military advisors have been urging the Nigerians to do more about the corruption and poor leadership in the military. Many Nigerian politicians (from outside the ruling party) criticize the government of allowing corruption and mismanagement weaken the army, leading to constant complaints from the troops that they are poorly equipped and led in the fight against Boko Haram.

Nigeria has the dubious distinction of being one of the primary victims of terrorism on the planet (along with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria). These five countries accounted for 80 percent of all terrorism related deaths in 2013 and even more in 2014. Four Islamic terrorist organizations (ISIL, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban) account for nearly 70 percent of all terrorist deaths. Many of the lesser terror groups are also Islamic.

December 1, 2014: In the northeast (Yobe state) Boko Haram attacked a police base outside the state capital (Damaturu) apparently to intimidate the police and the young men there who had joined the CJTF. In neighboring Borno state the capital (Maiduguri) the main marketplace was hit with two bombs.

November 28, 2014: In the northeast (Kano state) Boko Haram attacked the largest mosque in the capital (Kano) killing 120 people and wounding even more. Two suicide bombers went in first during religious services and then Boko Haram gunmen shot people fleeing after the explosions. The Moslem religious and tribal leaders of Kano have been hostile to Boko Haram and this attack was meant to intimidate critics. A similar attack on the main mosque in Maiduguri (Borno state) was discovered and thwarted. In Kano angry civilians killed four Boko Haram gunmen outside the mosque and burned the bodies.

November 27, 2014: In the northeast (Adamawa state) a bomb at a rural bus station leaving at least 30 dead. Police suspect that a Boko Haram man was transporting a bomb that went off prematurely as a bus station is not the usual kind of target the Islamic terrorists go after.

November 25, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) the capital (Maiduguri) was hit with a bomb attack in the main marketplace that killed 45.

Cameroon announced the closing of 130 schools near the Nigerian border. The schools were vulnerable to Boko Haram attack. Boko Haram has always targeted secular schools as one of their principal beliefs is that Western education is the cause of Nigeria’s problems. Most of the closed Cameroon schools have moved their operations further away from the Nigerian border. The security forces in Cameroon have made it very difficult for Boko Haram to maintain bases in Cameroon so Boko Haram now raids into Cameroon from Nigerian bases.

November 20, 2014:  In the northeast, near the Chad border and Lake Chad, Boko Haram ambushed and killed 48 Nigerians from a convoy headed for Chad to buy fish. Attacks like this serve Boko Haram in several ways. First, the murders further terrorize the population. Second the Islamic terrorists obtain some loot (vehicles and whatever cash and other valuables the victims had). Finally these attacks reinforce the idea that the security forces have lost control of the roads in rural areas. To the south soldiers chased Boko Haram out of Chibok, a town the Islamic terrorists had taken control of on the 14th. Chibok was where Boko Haram raided a boarding school in early 2014 and kidnapped over 200 teenage girls.

November 17, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked a village (Azaya Kura) 40 kilometers from the state capital and killed at least 45 people. The Islamic terrorists fled before soldiers or CJTF arrived. This Boko Haram attack also involved a lot of looting.

November 16, 2014: In the northeast (Bauchi state) a female suicide bomber attacked at a major cell phone market killing 13 and wounding 65.

In the south (Niger Delta) a local gang leader (Government Ekpemupolo) kidnapped 15 people, including several journalists, travelling to an event attended by president Goodluck Johnathan. Some of the captives were beaten before all were released. The government refused to go after Ekpemupolo for this because Ekpemupolo is one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the Niger Delta. He used to support separatist rebels but accepted amnesty in 2009 and became a successful (and very corrupt) businessman. This kidnapping was apparently another move by Ekpemupolo to coerce the government to go along with yet another shady business deal. The government finds it preferable to do business with Ekpemupolo rather than try to arrest and prosecute him.

November 15, 2014: In the northeast (Adamawa state) Boko Haram tried to take control of two towns but were repulsed by soldiers and CJTF. There were over a dozen casualties. These two attacks were apparently carried out to obtain weapons but the attackers were repulsed and driven out before they could obtain anything.

November 14, 2014: In the northeast (Kano state) Boko Haram attacked a gas (petrol) station killing six (including three policemen).



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