Most Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State’s West Africa Province) are still in northern Borno State, where a combined local, federal and international efforts have persuaded a growing number of Boko Haram fighters to accept amnesty and rehabilitation and employment. This effort has had some success so far because of local efforts. Operations against Boko Haram, ISWAP, hostile tribal militias and bandits are mainly carried out by the army but are also aided by members of the local Civilian JTF (Joint Task Force or CJTF). The strength of CJTF peaked at about 30,000 volunteers in 2017, and with the decline in Boko Haram activity in early 2018, about a third of the force has been disbanded, or at least no longer recognized and supported by the military. CJTF still helps with security around towns, cities and refugee camps in Borno State. Defeating Boko Haram was aided by a 2016 internal struggle triggered by Boko Haram members who believed more radical measures were required for Boko Haram to survive. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and most Boko Haram members resisted this but the radicals managed to organize ISWAP and eventually (2021) kill Shekau when a large ISWAP raiding party attacked the remote camp where the Boko Haram leader was staying. The factional dispute was declared over because of the ISIL faction raid. It wasn’t. The death of veteran Boko Haram leader Shekau did not lead to a reunification of Boko Haram under pro-ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) leadership.
Shekau was killed by dissident Boko Haram members that had joined ISIL and considered any Boko Haram member who did not do the same as traitors to Islam. Shekau had been active in Boko Haram from the beginning, in the 1990s, and had been leader since 2009. Shekau was correct about ISWAP, the local ISIL affiliate, seeking to absorb Boko Haram and seemed to realize more than ISIL leaders that many Boko Haram members preferred to fight ISWAP, or simply leave the movement. ISWAP leaders backed this forced reunification idea without realizing the impact the death of Shekau would have on most Islamic terrorists in the northeast. This became obvious when the number of Boko Haram and ISWAP members abandoning Islamic terrorism increased after the “merger” and death of Shekau was first announced. Many of those defectors switched to organized crime and ditched their religious pretensions. This has already been happening in the last few years but the “merger” caused the trend to spike. Two months after the death of Shekau over 8,000 Boko Haram/ISWAP members, including many family members who lived in Islamic terrorist camps, officially surrendered, something which merely resulted in an update of government records and agreeing to answer questions about their experience with Boko Haram. Nearly all the Boko Haram/ISWAP already named as criminals and wanted for specific crimes, are leaders and could negotiate a surrender deal that could spare them any punishment at all. That has upset a lot of northern political and business leaders, but these men know that if you have enough cash and connections, you can avoid conviction. This has been the case during the last decade as more and more notorious (they often flaunted it) politicians and business magnates were prosecuted, often with the help of foreign countries, like the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and many other Western nations, who provided evidence of financial activities locally.
Boko Haram quickly appointed a new leader; Bakura Modu (or Sahaba) who had much less experience than Shekau and he moved Boko Haram headquarters from the Sambia forces to Rijana forest in neighboring Kaduna State. These changes did not stem the defections. Boko Haram and ISWAP are both beset by money problems. Over a decade of Islamic terrorist violence in the north have ruined the local economy so there are more unemployed young men who can be enticed to join the Islamic terrorist for a “joining bonus” of less than $2, plus the promise of more if they learn to handle an assault rifle and succeed at looting and plundering what is left to steal in the northeast. A merger of economic, not religious, convenience was one thing most Islamic terrorists could agree on.
Most of the Boko Haram and ISWAP attacks were to obtain supplies the Islamic terrorists. The remaining attacks were against schools and teachers as well as Christians. Boko Haram is a phrase that means “education is forbidden”. The phrase refers to non-Islamic education, which most Nigerians, Christian and Moslem support. The Islamic terrorists also want to expel all Christians from the Moslem majority north and eventually all of Nigeria. That second goal is unrealistic because half the national population is Christian and most of them live in the south where the oil is. The Christians tend to be better educated and have higher incomes than Moslems. Most Moslem parents want their kids to get a good education because it provides better employment opportunities. Boko Haram considers this sort of thing un-Islamic and kills those who don’t agree.
In the last six years, as Boko Haram activity declined, deaths from banditry and tribal feuds gradually came to account for the majority of deaths committed by outlaws.
September 16, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State) ISWAP Islamic terrorists attacked a Boko Haram camp and killed at least 23 Boko Haram gunmen. This attack was in retaliation for a Boko Haram ambush of ISWAP men the day before that left eight ISWAP gunmen dead.
September 12, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State) soldiers killed seven ISWAP Islamic terrorists who had been identified by locals as the men behind a local crime wave.
September 8, 2022: In the northeast (Borno and Yobe Statea) a two week army operation against Boko Haram and ISWAP operations in over a dozen communities in two states resulted in the deaths of 52 Islamic terrorists and the capture of fourteen others.
September 5, 2022: Nigerian businesses on rivers in the Niger River Delta complain that the security forces pay attention to offshore pirates attacking large foreign ships but ignore the increasing losses suffered because of pirates who operate on rivers. The heavy losses are driving up prices’ locals must pay while putting some river traders out of business. This pirate behavior is not unexpected because bandits and pirates have always adapted to what the security forces are doing. As attacking the more lucrative offshore shipping comes under more pressure from the security forces, the bandits and pirates go back to plundering the river traffic.
September 4, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State) a four-day operation against Boko Haram bases in the Sambisa Forest led to several airstrikes, followed up by ground troops to kill five Boko Haram leaders and about a hundred of their followers. The Boko Haram camps are well protected against ground assault, with outposts that warn of a ground assault so the camo can be abandoned before the troops arrive. The military adapted by using aerial surveillance with manned and unmanned aircraft. When a camp was discovered, it was promptly hit with air strikes using fixed wing aircraft and helicopter gunships. Ground troops were sent to where the airstrikes took place and often found lots of dead bodies and evidence that survivors had fled carrying whatever they could with them. Because many of these remote camps also host families of the terrorists, there are women and children among the dead. These losses encourage many other Boko Haram and ISWAP to surrender with their families and accept amnesty.
August 29, 2022: In the south (the Niger River Delta) oil thieves did unprecedented damage to oil operations as they destroyed pipelines in order to steal the crude oil, which is then refined in simple local refineries to produce kerosine for domestic use. The oil theft operations this year have reduced production to about 900,000 BPD (barrels per day). This is in sharp contrast to 2021. In November Nigeria regained its position as largest oil producer in Africa with 1.33 million BPD, up eight percent from October. Normally the largest producers in Africa are Nigeria, Angola and Libya. Angola suffers from some of the same corruption and internal violence problems as Nigeria and for October is in third place behind Libya and Nigeria. Nigeria is now in fourth place at a time when the government and the weakened post-covid19 economy needs the money the most.