Sunday, September 1, 2019



he level of insecurity in Nigeria had reached an alarming stage due to threats to internal security posed by terrorism, kidnappings and insurgency among others. Prominent among these threats is the one posed by the terrorist group known as Boko Haram. A major concern facing the security agencies and Nigeria citizens is inadequate commitment by the government to effectively combat these threats. This situation ought to have necessitated the search for more effective method of intelligence gathering to assist the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in tackling insecurity in the country. Despite the litany of campaign promises made by the present administration led by President Muhammad Buhari, the problem of insecurity in Nigeria which is championed by Boko Haram is yet to be tackled.In the absence of a panacea for this unknown face of evil from within Nigeria, there is need for the international community to intervene considering that Boko Haram does not only pose a threat to Nigeria in particular but to the world at large. Thus, a stitch in time saves nine.

It goes without saying that even the layman knows what ISIS is. Estimated in 2014 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to have 31,000 fighters, this terrorist organization has only grown worse in the past five years. Practically not a day goes by that you turn on the news or pick up a newspaper without hearing about this terror clan. However, in the past decade, a new group has surfaced. Widely regarded as one of the world'sworst terrorist threat after Isis is the organization known as Boko Haram. Roughly translated into, "Western education is forbidden," the militant organization promotes a sect of Islam, which makes it "haram," - forbidden - for Muslims to engage in various political or social activities that are associated with Western society. These activities include but not limited to the following; voting in organized elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education. Endeavor to pay close attention to that one, because Boko Haram has lived up to its moniker, doing its best to prevent Western education.Yet to some, this organization has remained the unknown face of evil, even though they have committed unspeakable horrors for close to a decade now.

Indeed, this jihadist group in northeast Nigeria achieved national attention in 2014 after they kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in the middle of the night in the town of Chibok in Borno State, threatening them with forced marriage, forced conversion and other atrocities.Yet Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigeria's northern communities long before the kidnapping put them on a national stage. The group was actually founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf in the capital of Borno State, Maiduguri. Yusuf created an Islamic State that became recruitment for Jihadists.He attracted many poor Muslim families in Nigeria and even some of its neighboring countries with a religious complex and its own school. He spoke out against both the police and state corruption that seemed to appeal to the impoverished youth. And, in fact, many poor Muslim families enrolled their children at the school.During his first seven years, Yusuf's preaching was even broadcast to the people in Nigeria. In 2009 he was quoted in a BBC interview as saying, "There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam." (BBC, 2009).However, it was also that same year, shortly after giving the interview, that Yusuf and Boko Haram staged an uprising during which the Nigerian military captured Yusuf at his parents-in-law's house. While being relayed to the custody of the Nigerian police force, he was executed in public view outside the Maiduguri police headquarters. His body was put on display on state television, as the security forces declared Boko Haram finished. This was a mistake, though, as Yusuf was then elevated to martyr status."He was defiant even when the foreboding was disastrous," said one informed source at the time. "He kept shouting Allah Akbar (God is great) as he sighted the joint team of soldiers and police men who swooped on his residence."He did not really attempt to escape." (News Rescue.com, 2012).It was reported that many of his followers, as well as the government agents who carried out the execution watched Yusuf in awe. This one act elevated Boko Haram to an even more ominous force. For this is when Abubakar Shekau, who had previously served as deputy leader to Yusuf, took over the reins of the terrorist organization.

Shekau was even worse than Yusuf, launching military operations that same year. Shekau himself, while not martyred was elevated to somewhat of a myth-like status.Perhaps that's because it was rumored that he was killed during clashes between security forces and Boko Haram in 2009, before he appeared in a video in 2010 actually claiming leadership of the group. Since then, he has been reported dead with tremendous regularity. He is rumored to use several body doubles. Shekau, whose age is unknown, is also married to one of Yusuf's four wives. He quickly developed a reputation for his violence against Western society and education. During 2009, he survived being shot in the leg during an attempt on his life by Nigerian security forces, at which point he increased his violent attacks. It was as a result of series of violent attacks that by 2013, the United States had designated Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in May of 2013 in Borno, Yobe and Admawa, the three northern states where Boko Haram was strongest. Moreover, Shekau took credit for the kidnapping of the 276 schoolgirls in 2014. He announced that the schoolgirls popularly known as Chibok girls have been converted to Islam. The group has increased its terror tactics and violence throughout the years. Originally, its trademark was gunmen on motorbikes who killed police, politicians and basically anyone who criticized it. This included the likes of clerics from other Muslim traditions whom they consider weak and lackadaisical, as well as Christian preachers. However, Boko Haram began to carry out even more dangerous and visual attacks such as bombing churches, military barracks and both the police and UN headquarters in Abuja, the northern capital. Still, the deployment of Nigerian military troops along with the formation of several vigilante groups drove Boko Haram out of Maiduguri, their main base and into the vast Sambisa forest, which is close to the border with Cameroon.That's when Boko Haram's fighters began terrorizing the villages and towns - looting, killing and kidnapping women and children. Their modus operandi forced many young men to join their army.

After the 2014 kidnapping of the 276 schoolgirls Boko Haram announced it would treat the young women as slaves and marry them off. This was a reference to an ancient Islamic belief and was backed up by the fact that several of the rescued or recovered schoolgirls were found with young babies. One of them, Amina Ali, was not only found in the large Sambisa Forest with a 4-month-old baby, but a man who claimed to be her husband.Approximately four months after the Chibok girls kidnapping, Shekau declared a caliphate in all areas under Boko Haram's control. "We are in an Islamic caliphate," Shekau was quoted as saying, while flanked by masked fighters and brandishing a machine gun. "We have nothing to do with Nigeria. We don't believe in this name." (BBC, 2009).But, by March of 2015, Boko Haram had lost all the towns under its control and a regional coalition was formed to oppose it, consisting of troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.However, Boko Haram retreated back to the Sambisa Forest. Then, in August 2016, the group was at odds with each other when a video proclaimed that Shekau had been replaced with Abu Musab al-Barnawi, believed to be a son of Yusuf, while Shekau himself disputed this charge.

On October 13th, 2016, there was yet another breakthrough. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed that 21 of the missing Chibok girls were freed from Boko Haram, as a result of the government's negotiations with the terrorist organization. According to Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the girls were released safely to government officials on that morning at 5:30 a.m. local time at an undisclosed location before being transported to Kaduna in northwest Nigeria. Eventually, the girls were flown to Abuja where they were greeted by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, as well as a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and trauma experts."The release of the girls, in a limited number, is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram, brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss Government," Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu said (Winsor, 2017). President Buhari was even quoted as saying that Boko Haram was "technically defeated." (BBC, 2009).But is this a valid claim? In 2017, it appears there are now two factions of this deadly organization. Confirming what was first discovered a year earlier, Vice President Osinbajo announced on April 12th, 2017, that the government was in negotiations with the kidnappers. Yet, he did not provide any details of these negotiations for security reasons. During this time, he also stated that complicating matters was the fact that two factions in Boko Haram were holding on to the girls, one of whom is led by Shekau, the disputed leader of the terrorist organization. Also confirmed was the fact that the other faction that had broken off on its own in 2016 was one under the command of al-Barnawi, the assumed aforementioned son of the late Mohammed Yusuf, the group's original founder. That means that the remaining missing schoolgirls, which total over 100, are now divided, potentially making it harder to negotiate for their release. Yet, Osinbajo remained confident, going so far as to say that the government "has gone quite far with negotiations." (Umar, 2017).Yet, with over 100 girls still among the missing, just how far have they come?

Furthermore, a UNICEF report entitled Silent Shame: Bringing out the voices of children caught in the Lake Chad Crisis, highlighted some incredibly alarming and reprehensible behavior, even by Boko Haram's standards.The report stated, "So far, 117 children have been used to carry out bomb attacks in public places across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon since 2014: four in 2014, 56 in 2015, 30 in 2016 and 27 in the first three months of 2017." (Ogundipe, 2017)As disturbing as those figures are, the report continued with even more heinous information."Girls have been used in the vast majority of these attacks. The number of children used in 'suicide attacks in the Lake Chad conflict has surged to 27 in the first quarter of 2017, compared to nine over the same period last year." (Ogundipe, 2017).In fact, UNICEF's Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier expanded on that.

She asserted, "In the first three months of this year, the number of children used in bomb attacks is nearly the same as the whole of last year - this is the worst possible use of children in conflicts. These children are victims, not perpetrators. Forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible." (Ogundipe, 2017)

This all begs the question regarding the situation with Boko Haram: how does the Nigerian government attempt to bargain with such a monstrous organization that places such little value on the life of an innocent child? Nevertheless, making a bargain with Boko Haram was contrary to President Muhammadu Buhari's campaign promise before he was elected president in 2015, to crush Boko Haram in his first three months in office. President Buhari gave Nigerians assurance regarding the defeat of Boko Haram in these words during a rally in Adamawa, a northeastern Nigeria state, "Our government will bring to an end the menace of Boko Haram terror that is plaguing the society. Nigerians are turning into refugees in their country," Additionally, President Buhari's running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, equally made a promise to Nigerians during the campaign when he stated "if elected, they (Buhari and Osinbajo) will personally lead the war against Boko Haram." He buttressed his point by saying that "fighting insurgency requires the commander in Chief to lead from the front by providing Leadership (Buari, J. NAIJ.com).

The terror perpetrated by Boko Haram has been ongoing. Earlier last year, on Monday, February 19th, 2018, dozens of school girls were kidnapped from the Government Technical Girls College in Dapchi, located in Yobe, another northeastern state in Nigeria. Although there was no official number of the missing girls at first, President Buhari continued to assure parents and citizens that these girls would return safely and the guilty would be arrested. It was later learned that 110 girls had disappeared. Will they suffer the same fate as the more than 100 Chibok schoolgirls, doomed to a frightening existence in limbo?Yet the numbers get worse: as per Amnesty International, there are some 2000 children still being held in captivity by Boko Haram. Suffice to say, the group has outlived many other militant organizations in northern Nigeria, as well as building a strong presence in neighboring states, where recruitment is high.And, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA), Boko Haram still has an estimated 9000 soldiers at its disposal. While that may not be the 31,000 that Isis was estimated at in 2014, it's also not anything to be ignored. Indeed, Boko Haram is the known face of evil, though it should no longer be unknown to anyone paying attention to international news. Thus, the clarion calls for the international community to approach this deadly terrorist group diligently just like it did in the case of ISIS. The issue of Boko Haram is not just that of Nigeria, it's an international problem. It is terrorism. It's a global phenomenon. It is an unknown face of evil that is beyond national boundary and coloration.


BBC (2009).Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma.BBC News. July 28th, 2009.
Buari, Jasmine (2015) NAIJ.com.
News Rescue.com (2012). Flashback: How President Yaradua Dealt With Boko Haram in 2009.
News Rescue.com. August 13th, 2012.
Ogundipe, S. (2017).FG negotiating with Boko Haram on Chibok girls - Osinbajo.Vanguard, April 13th, 2017.
Umar, H. (2017). Nigeria: Talks with Boko Haram continue over Chibok girls.AP, April 13th, 2017.
Winsor, M. (2017). Nigeria marks 3 years since 276 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko
Haram.ABC News, April 14th 2017.