MATRIC: 134072066
The terrorist acts of the Boko-Haram since 2009 have created a state of palpable fear in Nigeria
and beyond, while the helpless posture of governments is worrisome. The study examines the
growth of the sect, the efforts of government in addressing the challenges and the implications.
The study is descriptive and data obtained from secondary sources. It was found that the
insurgence was a manifestation of frustration on account of national political, religious and
economic systems while the institutional mechanism adopted in managing the crisis was
Kydd & Walter (2006) define terrorism as actions focusing on harming some people in order to
create fear in others by targeting civilians and facilities or system on which civilians rely.
However, the scope of the operation of the Boko-Haram sect has gone beyond civilian targets
including Police and Military establishments. This paper acknowledges that discussions on the
subject matter might be value laden since it is a function of individual‟s perceptions. However,
terrorism is viewed as violence perpetrated by individuals within or outside the government
circle that is specifically directed against civilian or government institutions as a way of calling
attention to perceived real or imaginary injustices in a clandestine manner. This definition largely
captures the modus operandi of the Boko-Haram sect as a domestic terrorist organization.
Nigeria has a long history of communal conflicts, many of which were only suppressed under
military rule. Despite the heavy handed tactics of the dictators, some of these conflicts came to
the fore, the best example being the Maitatsine conflict which was eventually wiped out in the
early 1990s.
A lot of these conflicts and the groups that aid them found more freedom after the return to
civilian rule.
One of these groups is Jama‟atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda‟Awati Wal Jihad, which became the Boko
Haram sect. This group started in and around Maiduguri in the early part of the last decade.
Starting out as a radical group at the Ndimi Mosque in Maiduguri about 2002, they saw society,
particularly the government of Mala Kachalla as irredeemably corrupt. So, in the middle of 2002,
the group, under its founder, Mohammed Ali, embarked on a hijra to Kanama in Yobe state.
The militant group has bombed schools, churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children;
and assassinated politicians and religious leaders alike.
It made headlines again recently with the abduction of 230 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in
northeastern Nigeria. After a fierce gun battle with soldiers, the militants herded the girls out of
bed and onto buses, and sped off. Only a few dozen of the girls have escaped.
The name translates to "Western education is sin" in the local Hausa language. The militant
group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa's most
populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.
In recent years, its attacks have intensified in an apparent show of defiance amid the nation's
military onslaught. Its ambitions appear to have expanded to the destruction of the Nigerian
The group was founded 12 years ago by Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic cleric who called for a
pure Islamic state in Nigeria. Police killed him in 2009 in an incident captured on video and
posted to the Internet. The crackdown, some say, made Boko Haram more violent and defiant.
Abubakar Shekau took control of the group and escalated the attacks. It murdered and kidnapped
Westerners, and started a bombing campaign that targeted churches, mosques and government
Questions have swirled about Shekau, including whether he's dead or alive. Even his age is
unknown -- estimates range between 35 and 44. In recent years, the Nigerian military has touted
his death, only to retract its claim after he appeared alive and vibrant in propaganda videos.
He uses the alias Darul Tawheed, and analysts describe him as a ruthless loner and master of
disguise. He does not speak directly with members, opting to communicate through a few select
Despite its religious fanaticism, Boko Haram does not consider all Muslims as supporters and
allies. There have been suggestions that it attacks certain mosques because members have spoken
out against it and helped federal officials with their crackdown. Its attacks are aimed at striking
fear at the heart of the local population to prevent cooperation with the government, analysts say.
Although the northern populace mostly abhors the violence, there is considerable local sympathy
and support for Sharia law, seen by many as the only way to end what is widely regarded as a
corrupt and inept government. Poverty is prevalent in the northern region, and as the military
struggles to halt Boko Haram's attacks, the militant group is winning perhaps its most important
battle: making Nigerians question government competency.
Rights groups have accused local authorities of human rights violations in the fight against the
group, adding to the anti-government sentiment. The United States has put a $7 million bounty
on Shekau's head. It also designated Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist network last year. Though
it has provided technical and financial support to the Nigerian teams battling the insurgency,
there has been a reluctance to put boots on the ground unless there's a direct national security
threat to the West. Boko Haram's attacks have been limited primarily to Nigeria.
With a population of 175 million, Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and is considered a
political and economic powerhouse in the continent. The key U.S. partner is rich in oil, a major
trading partner with China, and is the hub of global business in the region. And as we've learned
with Mali, any unresolved local Islamist insurgency has the potential of spiraling into a world
Boko Haram has focused its attacks to date predominately on northeast Nigeria, although several
kidnappings of Western citizens in neighboring Cameroon have been attributed to the group
and/or to Ansaru. Cameroon, Chad, and Niger have all nevertheless felt the impact of Boko
Haram‟s activities—together, the three countries are host to more than 60,000 refugees who have
fled Nigeria. Additionally, the threat of kidnappings and attacks affects local economies, and
officials have expressed concern that Boko Haram may be transiting through or recruiting among
border communities.
Boko Haram fighters have also reportedly used remote border areas as a refuge from Nigerian
offensives. In 2012, Boko Haram fighters reportedly operated alongside, and received training
from, Islamist insurgents in northern Mali affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM), after a major Nigerian military crackdown on the group‟s operations.
According to the State Department, Nigeria‟s neighbors have limited military and law
enforcement capacity to secure their borders or respond to extremist threats, but significant
political will to do so. Governments in the region have reportedly created a multinational joint
task force to coordinate their security response to Boko Haram, although details on the
composition of the task force and its efforts to date are limited. There have been several reported
clashes between suspected Boko Haram fighters and Cameroonian security forces. In late May,
Cameroon announced the deployment of an additional 1,000 special forces to the northern border
region. The first official report of a direct Boko Haram clash with forces from Niger appears to
have occurred on May 6, when a Nigerien army patrol was reportedly ambushed near the city of
Diffa. Alleged Boko Haram members have also been arrested in Niger, some reportedly
participated in a prison-break in Niger in June 2013 that freed Islamist militants.
Several foreign governments have offered assistance to Nigeria in its efforts to find and rescue
the girls. Both the United Kingdom and France have offered experts and advisors. France hosted
an international conference on the Boko Haram threat in Paris on May 17 attended by regional
heads of state, including President Jonathan, and representatives of the European Union, France,
the United Kingdom, and the United States. The conference sought to intensify regional and
international mobilization, not only on cooperation to free the abducted school girls, but also to
combat Boko Haram and protect victims. Israel and China have also reportedly offered
assistance, although the details of their offers have not been made public. International outrage
against Boko Haram‟s atrocities does not appear to have deterred attacks—three weeks after the
abduction of the girls from Chibok, another eight girls, aged 12 to 15, were taken from Warabe, a
Nigerian village near the Cameroon border. On May 2, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a
rare attack in the country‟s capital, Abuja, killing at least 19 in a bombing near a bus station that
a Boko Haram cell had targeted on April 14, hours before the Chibok kidnapping. (The April 14
attack, an apparent suicide bombing, killed 75 people.) The May 5 attack on Gamboru may be
Boko Haram‟s deadliest attack to date, depending on the casualty count, which is disputed
between local and federal officials.

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