Nigeria: Army Tries To Avoid The Enemy Within

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December 19, 2014: Many Nigerians see corruption as being the major problem with the military ineffectiveness against Boko Haram. When this corruption problem is actually measured Nigeria finds that, while it is not the most corrupt nation in the world (that would be a three way tie between Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia) Nigeria is among the 40 most corrupt nations on the planet.  Nigeria is 136 on the list of 175 nations. Last year Nigeria was 144, so there has been some improvement. Corruption in this Transparency International Corruption Perception Index is measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The three most corrupt nations have a rating of 8 and the least corrupt (New Zealand and Denmark) are 91. African nations are the most corrupt, followed by Middle Eastern ones.

By late 2014 some army officers in the northeast have been openly (but anonymously, usually via unsigned letters to newspapers) complained about the corruption in the military and provided details. Local elected leaders in the northeast have seized on this to demand that the federal government do something about the crippling corruption in the military. But many of these northeastern politicians also admit that it will take the appearance (via upcoming national elections) of truly incorruptible leaders to clean up the mess and meanwhile the army is losing its war with Boko Haram.

In the three northeastern states where most of the Boko Haram violence occurs nearly 200,000 students have lost access to education in some 800 schools that have been destroyed or closed because of Boko Haram activity. This is a victory for the Islamic terrorists, who see Western style education as unsuitable for Moslems. Despite the violence education efforts in the northeast continue quietly, unofficially and in secret, especially among Christians.  This, however, plays into the anti-Christian paranoia that Boko Haram tries to exploit. Some northern Moslems support Boko Haram because they agree that the Christians, wherever they are, plot to harm Islam and are secretly trying to use education, medicine and all manner of Western technology to subvert young Moslems and turn them into Christians. This sort of murderous paranoia has long been present in Islamic culture but has been declining in the last century. However there is still enough of it around to sustain groups like Boko Haram.

In the northeast over 700,000 civilians have been displaced by the Boko Haram violence. About 20 percent of these refugees have fled the country.

More and more Boko Haram is finding that their most formidable opponent in the northeast is not the security forces but armed local militias. Most of these militiamen are Moslems, which unnerves some of the Islamic terrorists who are more comfortable attacking local Christians. 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 often have no firearms), the leadership publicly defied the Islamic terrorists over the threats. Local governments in the north are now seeking to provide more weapons for these militias. It was noted in 2014 that 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.

In neighboring Cameroon officials from the north, where Boko Haram is operating, are asking for another 20,000 troops to deal with the Nigerian Islamic terrorists. While the soldiers and police have been able to defeat Boko Haram attacks on towns and villages, rural farmers have lost thousands of cattle to Boko Haram. As a result many farmers and ranchers are abandoning their land because of the Boko Haram threat. The government plans to recruit over 15,000 more soldiers and police over the next two years, which is not soon enough to deal with the Boko Haram problem. The economy up north is in shambles as well because most trade with Nigeria has been halted.  

December 17, 2014: In the northeast an army court martial convicted 54 soldiers of mutiny and sentenced them to death. The soldiers said they refused orders because the necessary weapons and equipment were not provided. Some of the soldiers came right out and accused some of their commanders of being corrupt and ineffective. Actually executing these soldiers (by firing squad) is going to be difficult because of the growing realization that the complaints of the convicted soldiers were probably accurate and the army wants to kill these men for exposing the corruption.  

December 15, 2014: In the southeast (Benue state) tribesmen attacked the village of a rival tribe, killing six. This was one of many such clashes this year in Benue state that have left over 400 dead. The Moslem nomadic Fulani tribesmen have been fighting with Christian and pagan farmers in central and southeastern Nigeria for years and also raiding Moslem farmers in the north. The violence has gotten worse now and there were over a thousand casualties in 2013 and it looks to be worse this year. Boko Haram has recently claimed involvement, but that appears to be marginal. The Fulani have long claimed that the government was sending Christian police to persecute them because of their religion (not because they were constantly attacking Christian farmers). The settled (farming) tribes have been there a long time and in the last few decades more Fulani have come south looking for pasturage and water for their herds and have increasingly used force to get what they want.

December 14, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked a village (Gumsuri) killed 32 people then rounded up 185 villagers (including women and children) put them on trucks and drove off towards the Sambisa Forest (long the location of Boko Haram camps). The captives were probably be used as slaves to tend the camp and move equipment when vehicles cannot do it.

December 11, 2014: In the central Nigerian city of Jos two Boko Haram suicide bombers killed 31 people in a market. Jos has long been the scene of friction between local Christian farmers and Moslem herders moving south in search of pastures and water. Meanwhile in the northeast, across the border in Cameroon, over 400 Boko Haram attacked a border town (Amchide) defended by soldiers and police. Over 180 of the attackers were killed and the attack was repulsed. The army did not report their own casualties, which were apparently low.

December 10, 2014: In the northeast (Borno, Adamawa and Bauchi states) raids by the army killed at least 27 Boko Haram and captured documents detailing what places the Islamic terrorists were planning to attack. The documents contained maps showing details of the attacks. Elsewhere in the northeast (Kano state) two Boko Haram female suicide bombers attacked a market and killed four people. Security personnel prevented the two from getting to areas with more people. Witnesses saw the two bombers taking instructions from what appeared to be a man who was their minder and who backed away and escaped after the bombs went off. The use of women is a common Islamic terrorist tactic when these groups are popular and attract female recruits. Their conservative religious doctrine forbids arming women and sending them out to fight alongside men, but being a suicide bomber is acceptable and some women volunteer.

December 6, 2014: In the west (Niger state) 275 prisoners escaped from a prison after ten gunmen attacked the place at night, shot three guards and opened the cells. It was 15 minutes before police arrived. About 40 percent of the escapees were recaptured within 72 hours but most of them evaded recapture. Boko Haram has staged several similar prison breaks recently but it is unclear if this one was staged by Islamic terrorists.

December 4, 2014: In the north (Gombe state) Boko Haram raided a French owned cement plant and two towns. While doing this they stole vehicles, robbed a bank, burned some buildings but were eventually driven off by soldiers and police. Boko Haram lost about 67 men while the security forces lost ten. The heavy losses among the Islamic terrorists was largely due to their tendency to drive right into a town without taking into account the possibility of armed soldiers, police and militia lying in wait. Even after their vehicles took heavy fire many Islamic terrorists would keep advancing on foot and get shot.

December 2, 2014: In central Nigeria (Nasarawa state) a tribal dispute turned violent and left at least nine dead and many more wounded. Nasarawa is just north of Plateau state where there has been years of violence between Moslem herders and Christian farmers. Early in 2014 the army deployed a task force to Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau states to deal with the growing activity of armed groups.

December 1, 2014: In the northeast (Yobe state) Boko Haram attacked a police base outside the state capital (Damaturu) and then went after nearby neighborhoods. Over 150 died, at least half of them civilians with the rest split between security forces and Boko Haram. Local militia joined the police and soldiers to repulse the attack.  Elsewhere in the northeast (Maiduguru) two Boko Haram suicide bombers (both teenage girls) killed nearly 40 people in a crowded market place. Elsewhere in the northeast (Borno state) at least 53 Boko Haram died when they attacked a village at night. Soldiers and local militia had detected the Islamic terrorists and met the raiders with gunfire. One soldier and one civilian were killed as well. 

 

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