News / Africa

Are Nigeria's Neighbors Safe Havens for Boko Haram?

People look at the damages after two explosions rocked in a crowded neighbourhood of Nigeria's restless northeastern city of Maiduguri, a stronghold of Boko Haram Islamists, March 2, 2014.
People look at the damages after two explosions rocked in a crowded neighbourhood of Nigeria's restless northeastern city of Maiduguri, a stronghold of Boko Haram Islamists, March 2, 2014.
As the Nigerian military battles Boko Haram in the northeast, its government said militants are finding safe havens in neighboring countries and then mounting cross-border attacks into Nigeria. Nigeria's neighbors are faced with a difficult question: How do they crack down on this trend without also making themselves targets of attack?

Northeastern Nigeria borders Niger, Chad and Cameroon. It's a long, porous border stretching more than 500 kilometers.

The border is difficult to secure, something Boko Haram is believed to have taken advantage of it for years. Niger and Cameroon are of particular concern.  

In Niger, the regional capital Diffa is just across the border from Nigeria's Borno state, the epicenter of the insurgency.

The prefect of the Diffa region, Inoussa Saouna, said the town is on the "frontline."

He said Boko Haram is a constant threat. For now, they have not been able to carry out operations in Niger, but there is a lot of cross-border movement of people, given how close they are and given the fact that communities on both sides of the border share languages, ethnicities and even familial ties.

In February, Niger's military said authorities arrested 20 Nigerian Boko Haram militants allegedly plotting attacks on Diffa.

Since Nigeria mounted an offensive against Boko Haram last May, nearly 60,000 people have fled the northeast for neighboring countries. Most of them have gone to Niger. The flow of refugees raises additional concerns of infiltration.

In Cameroon, there is concern that Boko Haram has camps in the hilly border areas and could be recruiting.

Hamaounde Mohaman, the imam of a mosque in the Cameroonian town of Kolofata on the border with Nigeria, says Boko Haram recruits there. He said they come and meet traditional chiefs and go through them to recruit. He said there are young people there doing absolutely nothing, and Boko Haram takes advantage of that. They come and take them to train them. They use them to bring them food, money and other things. The government is saying nothing.

Sanusi Ibrahim, a Boko Haram preacher from Borno State, was detained for three months by Cameroonian authorities. A VOA reporter interviewed Ibrahim this month in Cameroon's Far North region.

Asked if he is recruiting there, Ibrahim said he is "just preaching." "I am here to preach the message of Allah. I just transmit the message of Islam. I am preaching the message of Islam and well, I am Boko Haram, but I am there just to preach the message of Allah," he stated.

Nigeria has closed part of its border with Cameroon, saying militants were using it as a way to sneak back into Nigeria to carry out attacks.

There have been several recent attacks on Nigerian villages near the border with Cameroon.

There also have been two incidents this month in the Cameroon town of Kousseri near the borders with Nigeria and Chad. At least one soldier was killed. Authorities blamed Boko Haram.

The Cameroonians have ramped up their border patrols and security since last year. Nigeria has called on them to do more.

Cameroon's Communications Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said Cameroon would never be "complacent or lenient" in the face of a regional terrorist threat.

"Let me say here that such allegations are irresponsible and ungrounded. Cameroon is a peace-loving country. As such, there is no way that it can encourage the development of violence in other countries and especially neighboring countries. We all know the saying that when the neighbor's house is consumed by fire, there is a risk that we will see sparks," said Bakary.

Analysts say it is a question of resources, and Nigeria's neighbors don't necessarily have the money or the manpower to put toward something some still see as a "Nigeria problem."  

Boko Haram has mounted very few operations outside Nigeria.

Boko Haram has carried out two separate kidnappings of Westerners in Cameroon, but the militants have otherwise left that country alone. That could change if Cameroon takes a more aggressive stance

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: daniel from: usa
March 27, 2014 9:44 PM
true it is not the dog in the fight that wins the war but the fight in the dog.

boko haram took it to the giant and boko guys are winning, all we do is ask questions like this one being asked here. do you think the usa will ask those kinds of questions, before melting the neighboring whatever that giddies up the boko boys.

one day, there will be no nigeria, but the federal union of the bokos.

by: Marcos from: Jos
March 25, 2014 2:12 PM
It only God that can save us from the hand of boko haram not our govement

by: Kristopher from: Washington, D.C.
March 25, 2014 1:53 PM
People have been accusing the government of incompetence when it comes to Boko Haram, but it makes much more sense if BH is doing the traditional African terrorist ploy of running across a border every time something goes awry. No wonder they have the ability to keep hitting the Nigerian military, they're clearly getting support from other Islamic terrorists in the region, most likely AQIM.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Port Harcourt ,Nigeria
March 25, 2014 11:27 AM
After the so much budget and talks on the use of Drones to secure our boarder from the sky nothing has happen.

by: John E
March 25, 2014 10:43 AM
There is no doubt Boko Haram's initial origins is from outside Nigeria. The spelling of its current leader's last name, 'Shekau', is not a Nigerian Hausa or muslim spelling. It is possible most of their fighters are also not Nigerian, hence their ruthlessness on Nigerians. In the early 1980s there was an extremist group based in Kano led by a man called Maitatsine. Matatsine was born in Northern Cameroon. The mystery is why Northern Nigeria is their preferred ground for carrying out their atrocities.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More