News / Africa

    Nigerians Face More Violence, Emergency Rule in Northeast

    FILE - Nigerian army's armored vehicle in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
    FILE - Nigerian army's armored vehicle in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
    Heather Murdock
    Violence has not abated in northeastern Nigeria despite the military's efforts to quash the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram.  Officials say militants have been pushed out of urban areas, but attacks continue in the countryside.  Some Nigerians also fear the militants are moving to areas outside the government's emergency-rule zone.  
    At an Islamic school in the Nigerian state of Bauchi, children practice the Arabic alphabet.  

    Bauchi is not one of the three states where the government has imposed a state of emergency as part of efforts to crush Boko Haram.  
     
    But the children's teacher says Bauchi residents are increasingly afraid of the four-year-old Boko Haram insurgency.  

    Boko Haram, he says, may claim to be an Islamist militant group fighting to impose it’s version of Islamic law, but with constantly changing tactics and increasing attacks on Muslim communities its hard to say what they really want.
     
    “Who is the actual target?  Who is hiding behind this umbrella?  Actually this is what we have noticed with regards to these actions of Boko Haram," said the teacher.

    The teacher declined to give his name because of fears the militants will attack him.

    This week, there were two attacks outside the security zones.  In Bauchi, police say four officers were killed and one was wounded in a shootout Thursday night.  Nasiru Mohammad, a witness, says he saw gunmen fleeing and bodies piled in a truck.  

    The attack was similar to the many hit-and-run attacks Boko Haram has carried out on authority figures over the past four years.  The group is blamed for thousands of deaths in attacks on schools, churches, mosques, security forces, infrastructure and government buildings.  

    Before the recent government offensive, many of those attacks were in major northern cities like Maiduguri and Kano.  In recent weeks, violence has moved to remote villages and roads in the northeast.

    Thomas Hansen, senior Africa analyst at the security consulting firm Control Risks, says the militants are now targeting villages to prevent locals from supporting civilian vigilante groups operating with government support.

    “I think what we’re seeing is that the civilian targeting of local communities has increased.  And I think that’s been quite clear," said Hansen.
     
    Some analysts warn the government is alienating the public by shooting suspects rather than arresting them or locking them up for long periods of time without charges in inhumane, sometimes deadly, conditions.
     
    This is John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations:

    “The government’s heavy-handed brutal approach, if anything, tends to drive public support to Boko Haram.  Absolutely counter-productive," said Campbell.
     
    But Campbell says, in his opinion, there is a way to end the conflict.

    "The approach should be one that address northern alienation from the government in Abuja, reaches out to the people in the north, embarks on certain highly visible programs or projects to address the pervasive poverty in the region, the collapse of education, and the almost complete non-existence of medical services," he said.
     
    Back in Bauchi, another analyst - a university lecturer that did not want to use his name to protect his safety - is less hopeful, saying anti-poverty measures may increase support for the government, but Boko Haram’s extreme religious beliefs should not be underestimated.   

    “The government resorted to using force, and force cannot kill spirit.  That is their objective so the war, it is an endless war.  Only God will take care of it," said the lecturer.
     
    On Wednesday, Nigerian lawmakers approved a six-month extension of the state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.  


    Ardo Hazzad contributed to this report from Bauchi.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: CNUO from: Nigeria
    November 23, 2013 3:36 AM
    John Campbell is not a particularly neutral observer on Nigerian affairs. I think he compromised himself in Nigerian politics during his tenure as US ambassador to Nigeria. He has never shown any sympathy for the victims of Boko Haram the way he does for BH detainees and deaths. What alienation of Northerners in Nigerian politics is he talking about after the North ruled the country for almost the entire lifespan of Nigeria. They created states and local governments to suit their whims and caprices. They are the major beneficiaries of National Youth Service Corp to address their disadvantages in human resources especially teachers. University admission policy is not based on merit but structured to suit the educationally disadvantaged states particularly in the North. Recruitment in Nigerian public service is also not based on merit but rather on Federal character so that northerners would be equally employed even though they were/are not producing commensurate number of experts as the other parts of the country. The list is endless. The result of this structure put in place by Northern prolonged leadership is that Nigeria is not working in its entirety and corruption is official and holding the country down.

    Agreed that there is still considerable poverty and illiteracy in the North especially in the North East compared to the more affluent and powerful North West, it does not justify the support for the use of force against the government and the innocent public particularly against a Southern President that is not responsible for this state of affairs. Development and poverty eradication cannot take place in an atmosphere of anarchy and war. Any right thinking person should advocate measures that will first and foremost bring back peace to the parts of the North. This must require military action. Boko Haram has lingered because Jonathan's government is perceived as weak and incapable of containing the menace. Rather than accuse the military of high handedness, I believe that the most important reason why Boko Haram has sustained is because of the unorganized nature of their attacks that has not given the Nigerian military enough room to confront them sufficiently without incurring civilian casualties. Government has however not done enough in terms of security surveillance and in containing these attacks. The much that military and govt has done so far is always over exaggerated as high handedness.

    Perhaps people like Campbell would want government to fold its arms and allow BH to carve out a significant part of the North and establish a government starting with places like Bagga. I stand to be corrected.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora