Nigeria: The Murderous March On Maiduguri

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January 25, 2015: A large Boko Haram force was halted by troops at Njimtilo, a town west of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. Rather than backing off the Islamic terrorists are fighting the troops, who have been reinforced by helicopter gunships and more soldiers. Boko Haram considers Maiduguri the birthplace of their movement and has long vowed to take it back. Doing so now would be a major accomplishment because additional troops were brought in for the visit of the president yesterday. If all these troops panicked and fled, allowing the Islamic terrorists to regain control of the city, it would be a major catastrophe for the government, which is already under a lot of pressure because of the inability of the military to keep Boko Haram from raiding at will throughout the northeast.

Whoever wins the presidential election will have another major crises to deal with; the falling price of oil. The oil revenue is the main source for the government budget and with the oil price down to half what it was a year ago and still falling Nigeria is in big economic trouble. It is made worse by the fact that corrupt politicians and businesses regularly stole most of the oil income. No one will have any sympathy for the politicians losing their illicit income, but some of that oil money went to government functions, like the security forces and a large (and often ineffective) civil service. The next year will be one of the more interesting ones in Nigeria’s short history.

People who escaped the Boko Haram capture of Baga (on Lake Chad in northern Borno state) report that the town is still under Boko Haram control more than two weeks after the Islamic terrorists took control. Boko Haram men continue to loot the place and rape any women they find. Civilians who did not flee (or were prevented from doing so by Boko Haram) are being used as slaves to bury the dead and gather loot.

Boko Haram violence has caused up to a million people in the northeast to flee their homes. Boko Haram has deliberately terrorized the population by attacking and looting towns and villages. Anyone who interferes or, sometimes anyone in sight, is shot and entire communities lose their homes and businesses to arson. Boko Haram wants to establish a religious dictatorship and because of the popular opposition to this (from Moslems as well as non-Moslems) the Islamic terrorist group is using fear to compel cooperation. The problem with this approach is that it drives away many of the people you want to rule.

The violence has left at least 15,000 dead since it began in 2009 and at the rate things are going it could be 20,000 by the end of 2015. .

January 24, 2015: President Goodluck Jonathan visited the northern city of Maiduguri as part of his election campaign. Voting takes place on February 14th and the recent increase in Boko Haram attacks is seen as an effort to disrupt the voting, at least in the northeast. Thousands of additional troops were brought into Maiduguri to protect the president and that seemed to work.

January 23, 2015: In the northeast (Yobe state) Boko Haram inexplicably released 192 civilians they had recently captured. The released people had refused to accept Boko Haram rule and rather than massacre them the Boko Haram leaders ordered them to leave the area. The dozens of senior Boko Haram leaders are largely autonomous and do what they want without consulting anyone more senior.  

January 22, 2015: In the northeast (Bauchi state) a crowd of angry young men attacked the convoy (with rocks and other objects) taking the president to the airport. Six bodyguards were injured and tear gas was used to disperse the mob, angry at the inability of the government to deal with Boko Haram, corruption and unemployment. President is running for reelection.

January 20, 2015: A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video (via the Internet) and claimed his organization attacked and destroyed the northern town of Baga earlier this month, along with a nearby military base. Locals claim the attack on the town of Baga left over 2,000 dead and most of the buildings burned down. The army says only 150 died but few journalists have been able to get up there (Baga is on Lake Chad) and clarify the situation. The satellite photos appear to confirm what refugees from Baga have reported.

January 19, 2015: The army began trials of a general and 21 other officers (14 colonels, a major, five captains and a lieutenant) accused of “sabotaging” the effort to fight Boko Haram. Troops have accused many of their officers of corruption (stealing supplies and cash), incompetence, treason (working for Boko Haram) and cowardice. Ineffective officers are the main reason for the inability of the army to deal with Boko Haram violence in the north. Last month 54 soldiers were convicted of mutiny and sentenced to death. The troops complained that they mutinied because of misconduct and incompetence by their officers.

January 13, 2015: In the north (Gombe state) a suicide bomber attacked outside a mosque and killed six and wounded eleven. Boko Haram was believed responsible.

January 12, 2015:  In the northeast (Borno state) several hundred Boko Haram men crossed the border into Cameroon and attacked a military base outside the town of Kolofata. The Cameroon Army reported that troops repulsed the attack, killing 143 of the Islamic terrorists and losing one soldier. The base was apparently well defended and the fighting went on for at least five hours before the surviving Boko Haram men fled back into Nigeria. Boko Haram had earlier threatened to punish Cameroon for sending warplanes to attack Boko Haram in December.

January 10, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) a ten year old girl detonated an explosive vest while in a crowded Maiduguri market, killing 19 and wounding 18.

January 9, 2015: In the northeast (Yobe state) Boko Haram gunmen fought security forces in the state capital Damaturu. Earlier a suicide car bomb gad gone off at a checkpoint in Yobe, killing two.

January 8, 2015: President Johnathan condemned the Islamic terrorist attacks in France yesterday that left 17 dead. This announcement upset many Nigerians because Johnathan has said nothing about the attack in northern Nigeria a few days earlier that left up to 2,000 dead at Baga.

January 7, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) several hundred Boko Haram gunmen continued attacking the town Baga, using vehicles and weapons captured when they overran a nearby military base on the 3rd. Satellite photos show the town as largely destroyed after the Islamic terrorists entered the place on the 4th and spent several days killing, looting and burning down buildings. Boko Haram did not stop at Baga but went after at least 16 villages near the town, killing and burning as they entered each place.

 

 

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