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

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects 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.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs