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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs