When the Boko Haram insurgency broke out in northern Nigeria, specifically Borno state, it was targeting police stations and other places of work and abode of law enforcement officers following the killing in police custody of the group’s founder.
But gradually, activities of the group has expanded to taking control of cities, kidnapping hundreds of girls at a time, organizing prison breaks, targeting churches and mosques and most recently deploying female teenage suicide bombers.
A new report by the BBC and King’s College London revealed the insurgency that Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan once said was being carried out by “brothers” have made Nigeria the second most deadly country in the world, just behind Iraq, while the Boko Haram sect is ranked second in the world in killing the largest number of people.
Accusing finger have been – and continues to be pointed at politicians. As recent as last September, the two major political parties in the country, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) threatened to mention the names of leaders of the major opposition party the All Progressives Congress (APC) which it said are the ones sponsoring the activities of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.
But the opposition had said revelations made by Australian negotiator, Stephen Davies, had exonerated the leadership of the party from any involvement in the activities of the terrorist organization since Davis mentioned some PDP members and political allies of the Nigerian president as the true sponsors of Boko Haram.
These Nigeria’s neighboring countries have had their fair share of the spillover of the activities of the terrorist organization extending beyond the Nigerian borders into their territories, especially in the Far North Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria where the country’s army recently killed about 107 members of the group, the attack also resulted in the death of 8 Cameroonian army officers and dozens of citizens.
Apart from engaging the terrorists, the Cameroonian government especially the military regularly argues with the Nigerian government specifically the Defense Headquarters.
Group Leader With Nine Lives
One of such instances was the confusion over whether leader of the group AbubekarShekau is alive or dead with the Cameroonian Army claiming it killed Shekau while the Nigerian Army insisted its officers killed Shekau – for the umpteenth time.
Both countries also argued over what really happened when about 300 Nigerian soldiers ran to Cameroun from Mubi town after it was overran by Boko Haram. Cameroun said Nigerian soldiers fled while Nigerian Army described the escape as a tactical maneuver.
Chad, a landlocked country in Central Africa has been strongly linked with sponsoring Boko Haram. The country shares borders with Libya, Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroun, Niger and Nigeria. Suspicion grew when the Chadian government brokered a botched ceasefire deal with Boko Haram that misled Nigerian Army into letting down their guard and was caught unaware by the terrorist organization.
The Cable quoted a security source saying that Chadians were serving as foot soldiers for the terrorist organization. A diplomat told the news media that Chadian president’s involvement could be regarded as a copycat of the late Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi’s destabilization of West Africa. He added that the president of Chad Déby was very close to Ghaddafi.
The Cable report suggested that Chad may be interested in gaining control of the oil deposits in the Chad Basin located in Bornostate, the hydrocarbon deposit reportedly covers about 3,350 square meters. If Chad gains control of this resource, it could significantly boost its economy which currently has former governor of Borno state Ali Modu Sheriff as one of its major investors. The former governor is a close ally of the Chadian president and was recently accused of sponsoring Boko Haram, an allegation he denied.
“In a saner community, Sheriff would be in custody but he is even among the delegation of the Chadian government that welcomed President Jonathan when he visited the country. As far as I’m concerned, he is the prime suspect and number one lead if we are trying to connect the Nigerian government to the activities of Boko Haram,” said FunmilayoOguunbiyi, a political analyst.
But Boko Haram continues to have access to state-of-the-art weapons, surface-to-air missiles, armoured personnel carriers and other equipment that are only sold to sovereign states. Political commenters also raised questions about how the terrorist group is transporting is heavy machineries if it had not received support from neighboring countries that could easily facilitate acquisition and transportation.
Speaking in New York at a high level meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Nigeria’s president saidBoko Haram is getting foreign support, although he didn’t mention any specific country; he also accused the United States government of not providing the Nigerian government with sufficient military assistance that would enable Nigeria to convincingly win the battle against terrorism.
Recently, the international relations between Nigeria and US further deteriorated when the Nigerian government cancelled the military training arrangement it had with the United States to combat Boko Haram an action that baffled several US security experts although the Nigerian government gave a number of reasons for taking the decision.
The France and Russia Connection
A potential French or Russian interest in the Boko Haram insurgency activities in northern Nigeria was alsomade public this month when a Russian plane loaded with large amount of arms and ammunition, bound for neighboring Chad was intercepted by the Nigerian Army at the Aminu Kano International Airport, members of the aircraft’s crew were subsequently detained for questioning. According to the report, the plane was heading for N’djamena, the capital of Chad.
The plane’s manifest revealed it took off from Bangui, Central African Republic and had on board 24 military hardware including a vehicle, helicopters and blades. While confirming the involvement of the French government, the French ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, however denied claims that there were arms and ammunition aboard.
In a research note on Boko Haram’s International Reach, Ely Karmon said although most of Boko Haram’s terrorist activity is focused, for the moment, on Nigerian territory, the group is already an important international jihadist organization.
According to Karmon, the bulk of BokoHaram’s membership, the indiscriminate and cruel characteristic of its attacks, the complexity of the Nigerian religious and ethnic context, the sheer weight of the Nigerian state in an instable neighborhood – Cameroun, Niger, Chad, Mali – and its proximity to the jihadist battle front in the Sahel convert it into an immediate and infectious regional threat.
Within Nigeria, citizens are divided over who is to be held responsible for the actions of Boko Haram. Daniel Olumuyiwa, a public administrator in Ife southwest Nigeria said he is as confused as other Nigerians.
“No one can really say who is responsible, only the sponsor and the terrorist organization could answer that. The rest of us are in the dark over the crisis,” he told AFKInsider.
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