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Boko Haram Insurgency Troubles Nigeria

Published: 10/03/2014 04:48:08 PM GMT
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LAGOS – With over 500 causalities recorded last month only across Nigerian states, many analysts are questioning the ability of Boko Haram to do all these organized attacks, raising possibilities of conspiracy theory on an international level. In spite of this surge, there is something sadly striking: public outcry does not seem to equal ...(more)

LAGOS – With over 500 causalities recorded last month only across Nigerian states, many analysts are questioning the ability of Boko Haram to do all these organized attacks, raising possibilities of conspiracy theory on an international level.

"In spite of this surge, there is something sadly striking: public outcry does not seem to equal the volume of the violence and I blame this on the fact our psyche have become accustomed to the evil called Boko Haram," Oladoyin Mahmoud, a Muslim intellectual, told

"But there is another reality too: Muslims and Christians alike now seem to see Boko Haram as an evil targeted at all of us. That is a shift from the hitherto perilous belief that it was a religious tool targeted at other religious group."

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Mahmoud said the initial blame-game "between Muslims and Christians unwittingly helped to give undeserved morale to the bloodthirsty criminal gang called the Boko Haram. It is clear the group spares no one in its terror campaign."

Casualties from the violence of the past one month alone, estimated at over 500, are adjudged the highest since the sect declared its campaign of terror in August 2009.

For the last three weeks, attacks linked to the militants have become a near daily occurrence in the country's northeastern region states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe - the three states where the government has imposed an emergency rule since last May.

In one of its most brutal attacks recently, 29 college students were murdered in their sleep in Buni Yadi, Yobe State.

As violence continues to claim lives and properties across the region, neither the insurgents nor the government has offered any explanation for the surge.

What is noticeable is that President Goodluck Jonathan's men - while explaining that the government is doing everything to end the insurgency - have sought to sell a narrative that the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) could be involved.

Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban.

The militant group says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.

It has been blamed for a campaign of shootings and bombings against security forces and authorities in the north since 2009.

But recently, the sect has carried out attacks against Christians and Muslims alike.

International Games

As the violence mushrooms across Nigeria, some analysts pointed that attributing every violence in the area to Boko Haram seems an inconvenient way to explain the big thing behind the crisis.

"I'm very reluctant about attributing (this violence) to Boko Haram because the spate of the violence and the audacity with which they are being carried out suggests some conspiracies," Diego Okenyodo, a social worker who has studied the sect's activities over the years, told

"When we know police and the Army have helicopters, even from the sky they can identify such retreating or attacking group, I find it very unbelievable that a supposedly ragtag assemblage of extremists are the ones responsible for such persistent and coordinated attacks.

“When you couple that with the sudden disappearance of the military in certain areas like when the school was attacked for four hours and yet the military post not only disappeared but did not respond, then you begin to understand the issues.”

Diego said it is almost impossible to explain the reasons behind the surge when the characters of those behind it and their motives remain elusive.

"I cannot start emerging what is responsible for this attack but it is obvious that there is some reticence and unwillingness on the part of the government to stop it. This is not about lack of equipment. It is about lack of political will."

Asked if he smells politics in the whole affair, Diego said this is not limited to "national politics but the international political dimension is in fact larger in the crisis than the national."

Asked if he believes, as argued by some Christian groups, that the Boko Haram is part of the international jihadist movement, Okenyodo, himself a Christian, said: "I don't share the sentiment.”

“How does that conversion happen by indiscriminate killings of Muslims and Christians alike? Secondly, the killings have been happening without any official confirmation from the group,” he said.

“Every claim of responsibility has come via other people attributing it to Boko Haram. No statement of demands. There is a conscious attempt to prop up an enemy in a diversionary way. Everybody's eyes are on Boko Haram while other things are happening behind d the scene.

"We need more active citizens to ask questions. I commend the women for coming out but beyond coming out they should justice and ask questioned, demand what is happening that intelligence and security apparatuses are failing. Attackers go scout free. It doesn't sound logical. We should demand responsibility."

Dr Sa'adallah Abdallah, who teaches Islamic Studies at the University of Ilorin, shares Okenyodo's views.

"The name Boko Haram seems to me to be some carefully alibiing created to achieve some agenda not yet clear," he told

"But I am not in doubt that this is about something else, not about anyone wanting shari`ah in the northern region," he added.

Muslim Condemnations

Rejecting the latest attacks by the radical Islamist Boko Haram group, leading Nigerian Muslims have asserted that Boko Haram activities are not related to Islam and Muslims.

Spokesman of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Mohammed Qasim said the Muslim communities have "made it abundantly clear that Boko Haram militants are a bunch of criminal elements masquerading as Muslims. No Muslim will kill any human being unjustly as they have been doing."

Qasim said efforts to link the sect's activities with Islam and Muslims "have failed woefully because we have repeatedly denounced the sect and its leaders. Many Muslim top clerics have been murdered for speaking up against it. It operates in an area where the Muslims are in majority and its killings are unsparingly brutal."

He condemned the surge in violence, saying "the killing of over 50 innocent school children was the height of cowardice and banality. Boko Haram is a criminal gang and must be treated so. Islam rejects any group that champions violence in whatever form and Boko Haram is not an exception."

Fuming at the rising killings and destruction supposedly by the sect, different stakeholders have called on the Jonathan government to change course as the current strategies are, in their opinions, not working.

Beyond the call for dialogue which the administration insists it never takes away from the table, the stakeholders including the opposition APC have not suggested any clear roadmap to peace in the restive northeast.

Could the stakeholders be privy to any watershed recommendations in the report of a presidential dialogue committee set up last year to advise the government on the way forward? No one is offering any word in this regard.

As has become the trend in Nigeria over the past decades, nothing is being heard about the report of the committee submitted last November.

"This government is working on the committee's report but this is a security matter. I cannot say to you on the pages of newspapers what steps are being taken. But the government is not jettisoning the report," Dr Doyin Okupe, a presidential spokesman on public affairs, told

Just when criticisms have mounted about the government's seeming lack of ideas to end the insurgency, Jonathan has announced Nigeria's most respected security agent, retired General Aliyu Gusau, as the country's defense ministry.

"A former National Security Adviser, Gusau's appointment will serve the purpose of uniting the seemingly 'polarized' military and end the rivalry among the top chiefs," Ndalolo Adamu, a retired major of the Nigerian army, said.

"It is hoped that his age, seniority, experience and international connections would be leveraged upon to get the insurgents on their knees. But like I said, that is just my hope. Nothing is cast in iron."

But some people have equally said Gusau may not hold any magic wand to end the insurgency.

"He was the National Security Adviser when Boko Haram started," Abiodun Fagbamigbe, a public commentator, told

“They grew right under his nose and so I am not expecting any magic from Gusau. I want to be wrong. I would be glad to be wrong.”

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