Nigeria: Even Islamic Terrorists Get The Blues

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September 24, 2015: President Muhammadu Buhari came to power on May 29 based on his promise to increase efforts to reduce corruption and eliminate Boko Haram. The Islamic terrorists responded by increasing their use of terror attacks and that has left over 1,100 dead since then. But the Islamic terrorists have suffered heavy casualties as well, in part because many of the northerners who once supported Boko Haram (and its promise to eliminate corruption) have turned against the group, mainly because of the Boko Harams’ indiscriminate use of terrorism against everyone. Despite the spectacular Boko Haram bombings Buhari seems to be winning. According to many locals in the northeast the Islamic terrorists control a lot less territory than they did a year ago and are having problems finding new recruits and hanging onto the ones it has. Because of this Buhari is considering a proposal to offer amnesty to most of the remaining Boko Haram members. The military leadership is confident enough with their progress lately that they are predicting the end of the Boko Haram violence. However the military would not give a date, merely insisting that the trend was in their favor and they believed they could keep it that way. Unofficially some senior officers believe Boko Haram could become a minor police problem by the end of the year or early 2016.

Notwithstanding the progress in running Boko Haram out of towns and villages in the northeast many of the former residents of those places have not been willing to return just yet. Thus in Borno Sate, the hardest hit area of the northeast, there are over 1.5 million refugees in camps around the state capital of Maiduguri. Many have been there since 2014 and it has been a struggle to provide that many people with food and adequate sanitation. The latter effort has not been a complete success and so far this month there have been several hundred cases of cholera. This disease is rare but not unknown in Nigeria and there are usually a hundred or so deaths a year. In late 2014 there was an outbreak in Borno that led to 4,000 cases. Back in 2010 a three month cholera epidemic killed over a thousand people in northern Nigeria because of some extreme weather (flooding). That cholera outbreak spread into Cameroon, Chad and Niger, where several hundred more died from the waterborne intestinal disease. To prevent another epidemic like that more medical personnel and supplies have been sent to the camps around Maiduguri to stem this outbreak which has killed fewer than thirty people so far.

In the south the military has responded to the new president demanding that oil theft be greatly reduced and for this to be done quickly. In the last three months the oil companies report a notifiable decline in oil theft. If that trend continues it will lead to a significant increase in daily shipments, from 2.1 million barrels a day to 2.2 million. The reason for the decline in thefts has been more frequent and aggressive patrols by the naval and army forces in the area and the transfer of ineffective (and often corrupt) officers. There have also been fewer complaints of oil pollution caused by gangs that steal and refine oi. For decades gangs have punched holes into pipelines and gathered oil for use in crude illegal refineries that produce low grade kerosene. As this became more popular the process caused a lot of pollution for people living in the Niger River Delta. The hole punched in the pipeline ends up letting most of the lost oil into the water. The refining process puts more pollutants into the waterways. In response to the order from the new president the military has increased the use of air patrols and quick reaction teams. When a crude (and portable) refinery is spotted the nearest quick reaction force is alerted, given the GPS coordinates and speeds to the refinery (via thousands of kilometers of waterways in the Delta) before it can be moved. Oil companies believe over 100,000 barrels of oil a day are being stolen by thieves who tap into oil pipelines. That’s several billion dollars a year in lost oil revenue. In the past much of what the government did receive from oil production was stolen by politicians and civil servants. While many people in the Delta only get benefit from all the oil via oil thieves (who hire locals and spend a lot of the cash locally), far more Delta residents suffer from the pollution and generally lawless behavior of all those gangs.

September 23, 2015: In the northeast (Borno State) the military banned moving vehicles (including bicycles and horses) during the 24th and 25th to help prevent Boko Haram attacks during the major Moslem holiday of the year (Eid el Kabir). Islamic terrorists prefer to make major attacks during Moslem holidays.

Elsewhere in Borno State soldiers, following up on some tips and leads, surprised and arrested 43 Boko Haram in a remote village and rescued 241 women and children the Islamic terrorists were holding captive.

September 22, 2015: In the west (Niger state) a large group of cattle rustlers attacked a village at night and killed 34 people including a local politician and a police commander. The raiders wounded even more people, set fire to 25 buildings, kidnapped some women, did some looting and stole a lot of cattle. Raids like this are still common in parts of Nigeria (and elsewhere in Africa) and are often part of tribal feuds and ongoing disputes over land and water access for herds. In the case the raiders appear to have been from the Fulani tribe, which is active in raiding throughout northern and central Nigeria. In early September the army sent more troops to this area to deal with the threat of more Fulani cattle raids.

In the northeast (Borno State) just across the Cameroon border Cameroon soldiers clashed with Boko Haram at a border town, killing 17 of the Islamic terrorists. In a nearby village two girls wearing suicide bomb vests set off the explosives prematurely, killing themselves and wounding two nearby civilians. The night before the troops had found and killed two Boko Haram gunmen. Boko Haram has killed about 400 people in northern Cameroon since late 2014 and the local security forces have hit back hard. At this point Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon are rare and usually tended to quickly.

In central Nigeria (Kogi State) police arrested 56 people suspected of belonging to Boko Haram. The police had been following leads and searching the suburbs of the state capital since the 14th, when gunmen ambushed a police vehicle in the area, killing a police commander. Many Boko Haram have gone underground, hiding their weapons and trying to blend in as civilians.

September 20, 2015: In the northeast (Borno State) the state capital, Maiduguri, was hit with Boko Haram bombing in a mosque and among a crowd watching a football (soccer) game. Over 120 people were killed. Some 140 kilometers northeast of Maiduguri another Boko Haram bomb went off in a town market, killing 21 people.

September 16, 2015: In the northeast (Borno State) soldiers arrested 33 people suspected of supplying of food to Boko Haram. Acting on tips the troops set up checkpoints to catch local traders trying to take food to Boko Haram groups known to be hiding in the area. There have always been people willing to do business with the Islamic terrorists, who still have plenty of money and stolen property to offer merchants who could deliver needed items. The increasing brutality of Boko Haram led more people to inform on those who were selling (and delivering) supplies to the Islamic terrorists. Thus eventually the army was able to track them down, disrupt deliveries and now the people involved and in charge are being caught.

September 15, 2015: In central Nigeria (Plateau state) several dozen Fulani tribesmen attacked a village killing 18people and setting fire to over 150 buildings. The Fulani are angrier than usual this year because soldiers have been catching up with some of their raiding parties, killing some of the Fulani and returning stolen cattle. So far this year there have been several hundred casualties (including nearly a hundred dead) from these raids and over 10,000 people have fled their homes. Tribal violence in this area has been a problem for generations because Moslem and Christian tribes do not get along. The violence has gotten worse in the last few years. Moslem nomadic Fulani tribesmen have been fighting with Christian and pagan farmers in Plateau State and outside the city of Jos for years. The violence has gotten worse now and there were over a thousand casualties in 2013 and nearly as many in 2014. Boko Haram has claimed involvement, but that appears to be marginal and in recent incidents apparently done by Fulani warriors simply to terrorize their victims further. The Moslem tribes have long claimed that the government was sending Christian soldiers and 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 Moslem tribesmen have come south looking for pasturage and water for their herds and have increasingly used force to get what they want.

September 11, 2015: In the northeast (Adamawa state) a bomb went off in a camp for refugees from Boko Haram violence. The explosion (in a tent) left seven dead and ten wounded. Boko Haram was believed responsible as they are known to have people inside these camps.

September 9, 2015: In the northeast (Borno State) soldiers drove the last Boko Haram out of Gamboru Ngala, a town on the river that forms the border with Cameroon. When people on the other side of the river realized that had happened many came to the riverbank and cheered the Nigerian troops. Boko Haram had occupied the town and used it as a base for movement in and out of Cameroon. Most of the residents had fled (many to Cameroon) after Boko Haram attacked the town in May 2014, killed 300 people and burned down many of the buildings.  Since then the Islamic terrorists have operated from the ruins of Gamboru Ngala

 

 

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