News / Africa

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Threatens Oil Refineries, Muslim Clerics

Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, Nigeria, Feb.18, 2014.
Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, Nigeria, Feb.18, 2014.
Heather Murdock
Nigerian police report 60 people were killed early Wednesday when insurgents attacked a town in northern Nigeria. Witnesses blamed militant group Boko Haram, which has issued a new threat to bomb oil refineries and kill prominent Muslim clerics.
Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram
  • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
  • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
  • June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
  • August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
  • November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
  • December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39
  • January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
  • February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
  • June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
  • July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims
  • February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
  • April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
  • May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
  • July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
  • August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
  • September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
  • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
The fishing town of Bama has been attacked four times in the past two years.  Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of houses have been burned to the ground.  
As reports filtered in Wednesday that gunmen in Bama were once again shooting people and setting homes on fire, Boko Haram released a video statement saying it plans to widen its reach, to attack oil refineries in the south and continue its assault on Muslim clerics that don’t agree with its harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
Analysts say Boko Haram’s continued threats and attacks are a sign that the Nigerian government has failed to stop the more than four-year-old insurgency, despite nine months of emergency rule in three northeastern states.  
Femi Odekunle, a professor of criminology at the University of Abuja, says,
“The government must double its efforts with more men and more resources to contain them and to prevent them from spreading to other parts of the country.”
In the video statement, the self-proclaimed leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, also claimed responsibility for killing Sheik Adam Albani, a prominent Muslim cleric and known critic of the insurgent group.
The Nigerian military says it is beating Boko Haram and that the recent increase in attacks signifies increased desperation among insurgents. Chief of Army Staff Kenneth Minimah told troops in the north this week that security challenges in Nigeria are “not insurmountable.”
But Odekunle says the Boko Haram threat needs more than a military response.
Most Nigerians live in abject poverty.  High unemployment and lack of education leave a lot of young men willing to fight because they have no other way to survive.

“The government needs to address the social order issues, which constitute of economic and educational issues that are underlying the emergence and sustenance of Boko Haram,” said Odekunle. 
Odekunle says Nigeria has the physical might to beat Boko Haram, but not necessarily the political will. In the meantime, he doesn’t think Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in northern Nigeria, has the capacity to attack southern oil refineries.
But A.B. Umar, a former Navy captain, says recent attacks in the north show the group has far more support than is generally believed. 

“How are they able to go to airport and attack the airport with all the checkpoints of the military and the police?" he asked. " How are they able to go in to the barracks and attack the barracks with all the checkpoints?”

It is not clear who is financing Boko Haram, but they are obviously well-funded, Umar says.  And as improbable as it might seem to southerners who have been free from Boko Haram attacks, he believes they may have the equipment and resources to expand.

Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maduguri, Ardo hazzad contributed to this report from  Bauchi

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 21, 2014 4:51 AM
When people leave the main issue and start to allude to other trivial issues in order to score a political point or so that it be seen that they make elaborate statements, it is both time wasting and costly in terms of the diversion it causes. Who says hungry people start doing things that are not in the blood? Where has it happened before? It is important to call a spade a spade. Boko haram insurgency is not a result of just hunger, lack of education and unemployment in the country even though its curators would use those to divert attention. It is a brain child of global islamization/islamification of the OIC anchored in Nigeria for Iran and Saudi Arabia by prominent, disgruntled elements of the religion in politics who feel cheated because Jonathan is unduly foisted on them. Otherwise there is no other way to explain the education of the likes of Shekau and his evil riders, the university lecturers, the governors/ex-governors, and politicians who are giving the mad dogs everything they need in prosecution of the evil campaign against mostly Christians, liberals and moderate muslim clerics in the country. No one can say these don't have the best of education, so ruling out the issue of lack of education. Of course non-educated people are mostly docile and innocuous - sorry for that information. One expected the changes the president made in the service chiefs team to reflect in an improvement in the fight against this evil, instead what we have now is an increase. And why not when the changes were purely politically motivated rather than for a desire to salvage the country. Otherwise there are other service chiefs still in service who are neck-deep in sabotaging rather than serving the country. The least of that problem now is the Central Bank governor sacked. Talk about pursuing rat when the house is on fire!

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 21, 2014 3:59 AM
With all the military might Nigeria has, She cannot defeat Boko Haram? The Nigerian Government has allowed Boko Haram to terrorized the Nigerian people, Nigeria going around trying to bring peace in other people country, But in her own backyard, she cannot clean it up?It is time that the Nigerian Government take drastic action against Boko Haram. The Nigeria people are dying too much, and enough is enough. when Mr. Goodluck came to power, he took an oath to protect and defend the country and its citizen. and it is time that the Nigerian Government act quickly. The Government need to crash Boko Haram. How long will the poor people of Nigeria be dying? We are calling on the Nigerian Government to take a measure and send a message to Boko Haram.We are tired with this nonsense that is going on in Africa. The Governments of Africa need to do more, this is a shame on our part as Africans. It is time that we all come together for the sake of peace and the love of Africa. God Bless Nigeria, God Bless Africa

by: samklef from: ikorodu
February 21, 2014 3:42 AM
Our govt is in touch of everything,they no the bokoharam,they are killing our people,M.k.o,as said nigeria is going to fight for them sell,if they kill one of the govt son,they are goin to know what to do then

by: Anonymous
February 20, 2014 4:32 PM

February 20, 2014 11:58 AM
That will be the end of bokoram on earth,should touch General Muhammadu Buhari rtd,whoever is their sponsor,they will follow him into their early grave ,if they think is ajoke let them try it and
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 21, 2014 4:25 AM
All this "should they touch general Buhari" is a farce. It is a deceptive strategy meant to divert attention from the kingpin of boko haram. If Gen. Buhari is not boko haram, who else is? Only Alh. Atiku Abubakar? It's time Jonathan stood up to make the necessary arrests to stem boko haram. We should not be deceived by the same people who are boko haram and at the same time pretend that boko haram is threatening them.

February 20, 2014 11:48 AM
That will be the end of bokoram on earth,should the touch Gen Buhari

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