News / Africa

VOA EXCLUSIVE: Nigerian Officer Says Corruption Hampers Fight Against Boko Haram

Nigerian police like Malo, whose ID badge is shown here, complain that the government is to blame for failures in the fight against Boko Haram.Nigerian police like Malo, whose ID badge is shown here, complain that the government is to blame for failures in the fight against Boko Haram.
x
Nigerian police like Malo, whose ID badge is shown here, complain that the government is to blame for failures in the fight against Boko Haram.
Nigerian police like Malo, whose ID badge is shown here, complain that the government is to blame for failures in the fight against Boko Haram.
Ibrahim AhmedMike Eckel
The landscape that stretches away from the serpentine border separating northeastern Nigeria from Cameroon is arid, barren and very difficult to defend.
 
Which is why Malo, a corporal in a Nigerian mobile police unit, and his fellow officers were glad to see a convoy of reinforcements unexpectedly show up where their patrol was resting earlier this month, near the border village of Gamboru.
 
Then the reinforcements, which included army-issue armored cars and heavy-caliber weaponry, began shouting ”Allahu Akbar!” and opened fire; 13 police officers were killed in the ambush, Malo told VOA in an exclusive interview.

Their bodies rotted in the hot sun for three days. The bogus reinforcements, he said, were Boko Haram militants.
 
”These insurgents come armed with thousands of bullets, and we carry only 30,” said Malo, a 14-year veteran officer who asked to be identified only by his first name to avoid retribution from his superiors.

”You cannot get 60 bullets until you pay a bribe. How in the world can you fight someone who attacks you with thousands of bullets while you have only 30?” he asked.

Boko Haram notoriety
 
After years of notoriety, Boko Haram exploded into the global consciousness in April, with the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls.
 
The kidnapping has struck a chord worldwide, with the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls going viral and celebrity mentions on film festival red carpets.
 
Boko Haram’s dangers merited mention in U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech at the U.S. Military Academy on Wednesday, and U.S. military personnel are helping in the search.
 
Outrage is also building about the seeming inability of the Nigerian government to either locate the schoolgirls or mount a coherent response to Boko Haram’s audacious attacks.

Underscoring that fact, suspected Boko Haram gunmen on Friday killed a traditional Muslim emir and two policemen in northeastern Nigeria.

Sources told VOA's Hausa Service that about 100 gunmen ambushed the convoy of three traditional leaders as it traveled in Gombe state.

A local journalist said the Emir of Gwoza, Idris Timta, died of an apparent heart attack when the gunmen attacked.  Other sources said the Emir of Uba, Alhaji Ali Ismail Mamza, was missing after the ambush and is believed to have been abducted.

The third traditional leader, the Emir of Askira, escaped when his car turned around and sped away at the first signs of attack.
 
In a briefing with VOA editors this week, a top Nigerian official said the government is battling unprecedented terrorism and is doing its best to track down Boko Haram militants.
 
Nigerians, though, are increasingly pointing to rampant corruption and incompetence among police and military units, a point the police officer, Malo, was quick to affirm.

Audacious attack
 

The May 5 attack in Gamboru was audacious in both its scope and planning.

In the convoy used by the attackers, Malo told VOA, were two armored vehicles mounted with high-caliber guns that had Nigerian army emblems on them - an indication they had been stolen or seized from a federal arsenal somewhere. The other vehicles were Toyota pickup trucks.

Some of the attackers also wore army-issue camouflage.
 
Malo said his unit — which is analogous to a rapid response tactical police team — has often gone hungry since being deployed five months ago to the northeastern state of Borno, whose capital is Maiduguri.
 
He said his police colleagues’ bodies rotted in the sun for three days because the state government refused to pay the required embalming fees to the local hospital.
 
Among rank-and-file officers, many feel that senior officers are purposely avoiding confronting Boko Haram militants head-on so they can skim off the increasing funding, and supplies, for their own purposes.
 
Malo said he gets paid the equivalent of about $200 a month, a minuscule sum given rising prices and the fact that he’s working to battle a violent insurgency.
 
”It is a big joke to invite the world to come and fight for us. We have the necessary gear to fight this battle, but we are not being given the tools,” he said. ”How do you want us to fight them? With our bare hands?
 
”For goodness sake, how can a hungry policeman arrest anyone, I ask you?” he added.

Ongoing frustrations
 

The frustrations were underscored earlier this month when army soldiers fired on the car of a general, whom they blamed for allowing the deaths of fellow soldiers at the hands of Boko Haram militants.
 
Since the schoolgirl abductions, Boko Haram, which believes that Western education and other influences are corrupting Islam, has stepped up its campaign of bombings and violence.

More than 200 people have been killed in attacks over the past week.
 
President Goodluck Jonathan has faced withering criticism for his government’s response to the kidnapping.
 
Last Sunday he ruled out negotiations to free the girls, saying the captives should be released "unconditionally." But cabinet officials said Friday that talks have not been ruled out.
 
In a recorded speech released Thursday, Jonathan pledged to wage a "total war against terrorism" and said he had instructed his security forces to use any lawful means necessary to end the "impunity" of terrorists on Nigerian soil.
 
The country’s defense chief, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, has said the military knows the girls' location, but does not want to risk their lives with a rescue operation.

 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Meanwhile, local officials in Chibok, the village the girls were abducted from, have called the government to heed Boko Haram’s demands to release some imprisoned militants in exchange for the girls.
 
"They have given their conditions. And if our interests are, or everybody's interests are, to get these girls alive and healthy, obviously I see no reason why they should not go into negotiations," Zanna Madu, the district head of Chibok, told VOA.
 
A former police inspector in Nigeria, Muhammad Gambo Jumeta, agrees.

"My suggestion is to find intermediaries whom would facilitate negotiations between the government and the opposition, and any other resource that would help to bring an end to this problem,” he told VOA.
 
But Malo said more help is needed on the front line.
 
”The dead have no problem," he said. ”It is the living who are suffering. Let them give us sufficient weapons and they would see what would happen.”
 
This story was written by VOA’s Mike Eckel with reporting from Ibrahim Ahmed of VOA’s Hausa service in Nigeria.
 

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: roselina from: nigeria
June 04, 2014 7:09 PM
wow to Nigeria government wow to preside good luck unable to track down boko harm UP BOKO HARM infact they need their islamic country which they are fight for. give it out to them since u can not defeat them. your army are corupt your police. your amry generals they are all working agaist your government.

by: Valentine from: Lagos
May 30, 2014 5:54 PM
That description of the Nigerian policeman on the war against Boko Haram depicts level of corruption in the country called Nigeria.
The unity of Nigeria was fabricated n arranged by some people for their selfish gains.
In this present government, those who arranged that unity are not favored by the polity. Hence, Boko Haram. This Boko Haram is onwned by the original or initial governments of Nigeria. There have members in this present government also. What they try to do is to intimidate President Jonathan so that he doesn't go for the second term. This is to enable them reclaim Nigeria n conutinue in their wasteful life style of corruption n embasslement of oil money.
But they ve only two options: To drop their arms n fellow in the transformation agenda of president Jonathan or have their own country in the Northern majority Muslim population.
God bless America.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
May 30, 2014 5:33 PM
Corruption in Nigeria is not new phenomenon but what's sad story is the security forces are being used as an expendable commodity. Goodluck Jonathan's government should be held accountable for all the killings of military and police forces at the hands of BH.

by: Chris from: Enugu
May 30, 2014 2:57 PM
Na wa o!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs