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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs