Nigeria: Fresh Security Scare As Boko Haram, Islamic State Target Foreigners

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The United Kingdom has said that there are reports (obviously Intelligence) that the rampaging Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa (a faction of the sect) are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners.

This came as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement on Christmas day condemned the bloodletting in Zamfara and Yobe. The party also lamented the invasion of Kukareta in Damaturu, Yobe State, by insurgents, who sacked the area in an attack that led to the killing of a police officer attached to Governor  Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe.

PDP Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party ‘’is deeply worried and shares in the anguish of the victims and relations of the slain, who daily live with the devastating trauma of the escalated bloodletting and killing of their loved ones, by marauders, who still roam the area in spite of the propaganda and lip service by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.’’

The party said the ugly situation in ‘’our nation today is an undisputed testimony of the failure of President Buhari’s administration to provide adequate security for Nigerians, especially in the troubled states, despite his promises as well as the huge resources at his disposal to tackle insurgency.

‘’The PDP holds that the situation in Zamfara and other states in the North-West, in addition to the heightened insecurity in the North-East and North-Central in the last three and half years, under President Buhari, shows that it is time for our dear President to review his parade and reappraise his strategy.

‘’Our nation cannot continue to afford the daily killing and maiming of our compatriots by marauders. This is not the way to go, and we charge President Buhari to end his buck-passing and immediately take up his responsibility as the chief security officer of our country by using the remaining days left in his tenure to address his parade.

‘’PDP commends our patriotic security agents who are placed on harm’s way for their gallantry as they take concrete steps to defend our citizens at this trying time. While commiserating with the people, we however call for calm and full cooperation with security agencies to track down and bring the marauders to book.’’

Number 10 Downing Street has accordingly warned their nationals about traveling to Nigeria, after a surge in violence and abductions.

Boko Haram is a top-tier threat to Nigeria, most populous country in Africa. Analysts have repeatedly claimed that an insurgency led by the Islamist group has consumed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions more in recent years. At times, the violence has spilled over the country’s borders into other countries in the Lake Chad Basin.

Some experts say Boko Haram’s brutal campaign, which has included attacks on schools, the burning of villages, and hundreds of abductions, is a response to longstanding religious tensions, political corruption, and widening economic disparity in Nigeria. The government’s heavy-handed police and counterterrorism tactics are also fuel for the group’s flame, analysts say.

Mohammed Yusuf, an influential Islamist cleric from Borno State, created the group in Maiduguri, the state capital, in 2002. It began as an offshoot of the Salafi movement, a branch of Sunni Islam, to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state with sharia criminal courts.

The movement’s followers, called Yusuffiya, consist of Northern Islamic students and clerics, as well as professionals, many of whom struggle to find work. While it is difficult to track the size of the insurgents, U.S. intelligence officials have estimated that there are between four and six thousand hard-core militants.

Other analysts have said the group’s membership could be three times that. CFR Senior Fellow John Campbell writes that many of the group’s fighters, as well as its victims, are likely Kanuri Muslims, the predominant ethnic group in Borno.

Many analysts believe that Boko Haram emerged as a consequence of deep religious and ethnic cleavages that have long troubled Nigeria. The British, during their nearly half century of rule, merged various territories and peoples that had little in common other than geographic proximity.

Nigeria comprises some 350 ethnic groups, including the Hausa and Fulani (29 percent), the Yoruba (21 percent), the Igbo (18 percent), the Ijaw (10 percent), and the Kanuri (4 percent). The country is also roughly split between the Muslim-dominated North and Christian-dominated South.

The two largest religious groups have, for decades, generally abided by an informal power-rotation agreement for the presidency, but political friction remains a significant factor in ongoing unrest.

It is also being said that Nigeria’s record of political corruption and inequality have also contributed to the group’s rise. Despite being Africa’s biggest economy and home to a wealth of natural resources, Nigeria has one of the continent’s poorest populations.

Roughly half of her 200 million people live on less than $1.90 per day; poverty is higher in the Muslim-majority North. Oil has played a major role in driving economic inequality across the country: A small number of elites has long maintained a tight hold on oil revenues, and corrupt government ministers have been charged with embezzling tens of billions of dollars from the sector.

‘’The emergence of Boko Haram signifies the maturation of long-festering extremist impulses that run deep in the social reality of northern Nigeria’’, writes analyst Chris Ngwodo. ‘’The group itself is an effect and not a cause; it is a symptom of decades of failed government and elite delinquency finally ripening into social chaos.’’

Since the termination of British colonial rule in 1960, Nigeria has suffered waves of political instability, including at least half a dozen coups, decades of military dictatorship, and a civil war (1967–1970) that claimed up to two million lives, many perishing from a blockade-induced famine.

In Boko Haram’s formative years, Yusuf criticised Northern Muslims for participating in what he saw as an illegitimate, non-Islamic state. ‘’Yusuf’s vision was extreme in the northern Nigeria context, but not so extreme that it was unrecognizable’’, writes Alexander Thurston in his 2017 book on the group. ‘’In diverse ways, most northern Muslims believe that Islam provides a framework that should shape public life.’’

The group began to radicalise amid episodic clashes between Christians and Muslims and as security forces adopted harsher tactics against suspected militants. A flash point for the group came in 2009, when a police crackdown set off an armed uprising in Bauchi State that soon spread in the northeast.

Government forces killed more than 800 people, including many suspected Boko Haram members, in ensuing protests. Following the uprising, Yusuf was murdered while in police custody.

In the mean time, a travel advisory issued by the United Kingdom on Monday said there was high threat of abduction in most parts of Nigeria, and as such cautioned her citizens against travelling to Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Kano states, among others.

‘’Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the North-East, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states. The security environment in the North-East has deteriorated in 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps in the North-East have included humanitarian and private sector workers’’, the travel advisory said.

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