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Boko Haram: Nigeria’s biggest security problem

Updated: Dec 30, 2020


Time and time again, Nigeria’s security forces have proved that they are incapable of protecting the country’s national security from acts of terror. Over the last 11 years since Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf was killed by the Nigerian police, the terrorist organisation has grown stronger in the Northern parts of Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. This blog looks at how Nigeria’s security forces have addressed the Boko Haram problem, if they have at all.

The great mistake of Mohammed Yusuf

In 2009 the Nigerian military apprehended Mohammed Yusuf, the then leader of the terrorist group called Boko Haram, which was founded in 2002. At this point they had the opportunity to collect intel on the organisation which could have led to the end of Boko Haram or at least seriously damaged their hierarchy.

The Nigerian military captured Mohammed Yusuf at his parents-in-law's house. He was then transferred to the custody of the Nigerian police force before being taken to the police headquarters in Maiduguri. It was then reported by human rights campaigners that the Nigerian police executed Yusuf in public view. The Police denied this claim and stated either that Yusuf was shot while trying to escape, or he died of wounds he sustained during a gun battle with the military.

Boko Haram activities over the last 11 years

Over the last 11 years, Boko Haram have been responsible for the deaths of more than 30,000 people in Nigeria and displaced more than 3 million people. Most of these people have fled to neighbouring countries like Cameroon. They kill, kidnapped and rape women, while the Nigerian government claims to get dismantled them. The Nigerian military know that this terrorist group hides in the Sambisa forest of Borno state, yet they have done nothing.

On April 2014 Boko Haram kidnapped 276 school girls from Chibok. These girls were raped and forced into marriage. Some even gave birth to their rapist‘s kids. The Nigerian government was never ever of retrieve these girls although some of the girls returned, other are still missing to date.

In 2018 CNN reported that a breakaway faction of Boko Haram known as ISWAP kidnapped more than 100 girls in Dapchi. All but one was released weeks later, after negotiations. UNICEF recently stated that Boko Haram has abducted more than a 1,000 children since 2013, according to UNICEF.

Most recently, 337 students are still unaccounted for after gunmen attacked a school in northern Nigeria, a government official told CNN. A man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, according to a short audio message shared with the Nigerian media and reviewed by CNN.

The Nigerian president has refuted claims by Katsina Governor Bello Masari that more than 300 children are still held in captivity by bandits.

The presidency said only 10 boys were still missing, according to reports monitored by a local newspaper The Punch.

What needs to be done?

Boko Haram needs to be stopped before they become a problem too big to handle. The economic climate of Nigeria bodes well for them in terms of recruitment. As the saying goes, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. With a 27% unemployment rate in Nigeria and the fact that majority of the unemployed are youths who are gullible. The Nigerian government has made itself a fertile ground for Boko Haram to recruit young, jobless, bored zealots to their cause, with a promise of monetary benefits.

We recommend the Nigerian government tackle the Boko Haram problem as follows;

  1. First ensure the safety of civilians - They need to beef up military presence in Boko Haram hot zones and ensure institutions such as schools, Mosques and Churches are protected around the clock. Security forces must be proactive not reactive to the threat posed by Boko Haram.

  2. Find Boko Haram’s base of operation and shut it down- Sounds simple so what’s the delay? The Nigerian government should constantly be searching for Boko Haram‘s locations. Public knowledge is that they hide out mostly in Sambisa forest which is located in Borno State, Nigeria. The Nigerian government should also accept help from western nations and neighbouring countries.

  3. Shut out their supply of ammunition- If the Nigerian government truly have control of all their borders, how have Boko Haram been smuggling in guns? Nigeria is not America where they sell guns like candy. Over the last 11 years these terrorists have used weapons which were smuggled into the country or sold in black markets. The government needs to shut these avenues down.

  4. Fight the ideal not just the people- Terrorist organisations are known to thrive because of their ideals and the internet age makes it easier to spread their poison to gullible youths. History has shown that eliminating the head of terrorist organisations doesn’t stop these ideals from spreading. For example, killing Bin Laden didn’t stop Alqaeda from spreading their ideals, in short it made him a martyr that inspired other terrorists. The Nigerian government needs to invest in education campaigns to counter these ideaologies, both online and on ground.

  5. Create jobs for the Nigerian youth, especially in Northern Nigeria - Jobless youths will always be easy targets for radicalisation and an ideal mind will always be the devil’s workshop. It is confusing how the country with Africa’s largest economy are unable to create sustainable jobs. There are so much problems in Nigeria to solve and more problems means more jobs. Nigeria’s has problems with intermittent power supply, none existent water supply network, dependency on crude oil, importation of used cars which cause pollution, importation of bad fuel, poor road infrastructure, poor credit system, poor healthcare infrastructure, hunger, poverty and to sum it up, unemployment. These are problems the government can solve if they invest into the economy, infrastructure and boost their manufacturing capability.

Visit our forum to discuss issues how Nigeria is tackling Boko Haram.


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