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Home » Terrorism in Nigeria: The reign of Boko Haram

Terrorism in Nigeria: The reign of Boko Haram

Terrorism in Nigeria: The reign of Boko Haram

Terrorism in Nigeria: The reign of Boko Haram is now a nightmare and monster we face daily in the Northern part of Nigeria. Terrorism in Nigeria is fast becoming an emerging challenge to its national security. According to Azazi, a former Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, “The Nigerian nation is not prepared for the spate of violence we are experiencing. However, this article argues that there have been some signs and symptoms of terrorism in Nigeria before now; because according to McNamara, “any society that seeks to achieve adequate security against the background of acute food shortage, population explosion, low level of productivity and per capita income, low technological development, inadequate and insufficient public utilities and chronic problems of unemployment; (religious intolerance and criminal politicking) has a false sense of security.

Between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria had remained a relatively peaceful and violent or terror free nation, however, Obene is of the opinion that, the killing of Mr Dele Giwa, by a ‘Letter Bomb’ in October 1986 marked the beginning of violent killing and use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Nigeria.

Furthermore, the Movement for the Advancement of Democracy hijacked a Nigeria Airways aircraft in October 1993 following the annulment of Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s presidential election triumph. Afterwards, a vicious bomb blast ripped Shed 6 of Ilorin Stadium in August 1994.

Several other terror acts have occurred since then. For example, between 1996 and 1998 there was bomb attack on the car of a former Chief Security Officer of Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria, Dr Omoshola. Also, the escort car of the former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Brig Gen MB Marwa (Rtd) was attacked by terrorists.

Other significant acts of terrorism in Nigeria can be summarized as follows: General sectarian violence in Jos (2004, 2010, and 2011), series of bombings and killings in Maiduguri (since 2004 to date), the 2010 New Year’s Eve bombing of Mogadishu Military Cantonment Mammy Market Abuja, the May 29 2010 Presidential Inauguration bombing in Abuja, the 1st October 2010 bombing in Abuja that disrupted the celebration of Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversary, the Mammy Market bombings in Bauchi, and Zuba near Abuja in 2011.

Furthermore, the Post-April 2011 Presidential Election violence in the Northern parts of Nigeria, April 8, 2011 Suleja INEC office bombing, May 29, 2011 bombing of social drinking sports in Maiduguri and Zuba an outskirts of Abuja. June 16, 2011 Nigeria Police Force Headquarters bombing in Abuja, August 26, 2011 bombing of UN House in Abuja, Nov 4, 2011 bombing of Army Task Force Operational, Police Headquarters and other government buildings in Damaturu, Yobe State and Maiduguri in Borno State, Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near Abuja (25 December 2011), Mubi, Yola, Gombe and Maiduguri bombings (5-6 January 2012), Kano bombings (20 January and 1 February 2012). HQ 1 Division Nigerian Army and Kawo bridge bombings in Kaduna (7 February 2012) etc.

During the military rule of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sanni Abacha, Nigeria witnessed series of bomb explosions targeted at some notable political figures. Some political analysts referred to these various bombings as acts of terrorism. However, terrorism got to an alarming rate in Nigeria and thus began to engage the attention of the general public, the government and the international community in 2009.

On 24th December, 2009, a young Nigerian with the name Umar Abdul Mutallab attempted to blow up a US Jet in Detroit, USA. This particular incident put Nigeria on the terror watch list. During investigation, it was revealed that Mutallab had links with terrorist groups in both Yemen and Somalia. Yemen is regarded as the, new Afghanistan‟ and has thus emerged as the key development centre for the new generation of a worldwide known terrorist group alQaeda (the group responsible for the bombing of the world Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 in the US) bombs.

In 2002 an anarchist Islamic group by the name Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad popularly known as “Boko Haram” was formed by Mohammed Yusuf. This Boko Haram group has been said to have links with terror groups in Yemen and Somalia. The group has been engaging in acts of terrorism since then. So this group has become the face of terrorism in Nigeria. In the paragraphs below, brief history of Boko Haram will be examined, its modus operandi and how it is been funded.


Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (Boko Haram)

Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad), better and popularly known by its Hausa name Boko Haram, is a violent jihadist terrorist organization or group which has its base in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. It is an Islamist movement which is strongly against man-made laws. Founded in 2001 by Mohammed Yusuf, the group is a Jihadist group that seeks to establish Sharia law in the country. The group is also known for attacking Christians and bombing churches.

The group whose name in the Hausa language, “Boko Haram”, literally means “Western education is sinful”, is divided into three factions. In 2011, Boko Haram was responsible for the death of at least 450 people in Nigeria.

It was also reported that they had been responsible for the death of over 620 in the first 6 months of 2012. In the first few years of its operations, 10,000 people are reported to have died. The group later became known internationally following sectarian terrorist acts in Nigeria in July 2009, which claimed over 1,000 lives. They do not have a clear structure or evident chain of command.

Moreover, it is still not clear whether Boko Haram has links to terror outfits outside Nigeria and its fighters have frequently clashed with Nigeria’s central government. A US commander stated that Boko Haram is likely linked to AQIM (al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb).

The group adopted an official name known to be “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad” which translates to “The Group of Al-Sunna for Preaching and Jihad” in English. In Maiduguri town, where the group was founded, the residents referred to it as Boko Haram. The term “Boko Haram” was derived from the Hausa word “Boko” which stands for “Western Education” and the Arabic word “Haram” figuratively meaning “sin” (literally, “forbidden”).

The name, loosely translated from Hausa, means “western education is forbidden”. Boko Haran earned its name as a result of its very strong opposition to anything Western, which it sees as corrupting Muslims. Boko Haram was founded as an indigenous Salafist group, turning itself into a Salafist Jihadist group in 2009. It postulates that interaction with the Western World is a sin and also gives support to the opposition to the Muslim establishment and the Nigerian government. Publicly, the group belaud its ideology despite the fact that its former leader and founder Muhammad Yusuf was himself a very educated man who lived a lavish life and drove around in a Mercedes Benz.

Boko Haram members do not interact with the local Muslim population and have also carried out terrorist attacks in the previous years on anyone who criticizes it actions, including Muslim clerics. In the wake of the 2009 crackdown on its members and its subsequent re-emergence, the growing frequency and geographical range of attacks attributed to Boko Haram have led some political and religious leaders in the north to the conclusion that the group has now expanded beyond its original religious composition to include not only Islamic militants, but criminal elements and dissatisfied politicians as well. According to Borno state governor Kasshim Shetima “Boko Haram has become a franchise that anyone can buy into. It’s something like a Bermuda Triangle.


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