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The Strategic Significance of the Baga Incident

Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju Compcros Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems "Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge"

A wing of the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram entrenched itself in a mosque in Baga, in Northern Nigeria, making the town its base. The Nigerian military describe them as even ruling the town, levying taxes on the citizens. From that base, the terrorists attacked and killed Nigerian soldiers. The militarys account indicates that the terrorists had taken over Baga.

Boko Haram had established in Baga what Ahmad Salkida calls, in "Genesis and Consequences of Boko Haram Crisis", "a state within a state", referring to the earlier initiatives of Muhammad Yusuf, the founder of the group, and his "hard-line top lieutenant Abubakar Shekau".
Boko Haram is described by recent news reports as controlling outlying areas in Borno state. Preaching openly and patrolling the communities with weapons mounted on sophisticated vehicles. A strategy must be developed to rout them out to the last man. One of the worst things that can happen to the North is for Boko Haram to control any territory there. The North is already significantly behind even the struggling South in almost all indices of development and such ridiculous Islamic values as Boko Haram brings will set the region back for perhaps a century. Nigeria also cannot afford the murderous fanaticism of Boko Haram as its neighbor, if the North and South divide, or within its territory if this division does not take place. These fundamental strategic issues are a far cry from the Bayelsa incident being compared with the Baga incident , where, in Bayelsa, a Nigerian policeman was killed by members of the militant group MEND. MEND is not battling to overthrow the government and establish itself, doing so through large scale murder and assassinations, which is the vision and strategy of Boko Haram.

The Baga incident, therefore, in its strategic significance, goes far beyond the killing of a soldier or soldiers by Boko Haram. The people of Baga should have long fled the town, seeking sanctuary with the state government. The presence of Boko Haram in such an entrenched form in any community is like living with a ticking time bomb. It will go off one day and those in the vicinity will not be unaffected. Such evacuation could have been difficult since Boko Haram is likely to have wanted to prevent it, but it would have been better than waiting there. The military describes the carnage, the deaths of many citizens of Baga and the destruction of the houses and other property of the community emerging from its successful effort at dislodging the terrorists from the town, as caused by Boko Haram using the civilian population as human shields, a central tactic of Boko Haram, which has endured so long centrally because of their blending with the civilian population, emerging from this anonymity to strike and then withdraw again into the civilian shield, and the incendiary power of the sophisticated weapons used by Boko Haram, including rocket propelled grenades and rocket launchers, if I remember the last mentioned weapon accurately.