News / Africa

In Boko Haram Offensive, Nigerian Forces on Familiar Ground

Soldier from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, with th 23rd Armoured Brigade, Yola, May 20, 2013.
Soldier from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, with th 23rd Armoured Brigade, Yola, May 20, 2013.
Heather Murdock
It has been less than 10 days since the Nigerian military began what it calls a “massive” offensive against Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist militant group that claims ties to al-Qaida and recently captured portions of the country's northeast.
 
While military officials claim to have killed dozens of its fighters and arrested hundreds of its members, destroying their encampments and re-taking at least five districts since the campaign began, none of the information is verifiable. With phone lines down and roads blocked, no independent observers are present along the front lines and some aid workers fled the region after an attack last Saturday.
 
Hussaini Abdu, head of the anti-poverty organization ActionAid in Abuja, says the military’s information blackout is meant to achieve two aims.
 
“One ... is to possibly constrain the communications of the insurgents groups, but it’s also to disallow the public from accessing such information that can be used to put pressure on the military," he said. "So if there are issues of rights violations — if there are cases of killing of innocent people and all those things — if people get to know it, we report it in the media it will put pressure on them. And the military typically will see it as a distraction.”
 
Renowned for its peacekeeping successes across Africa, the Nigerian military, some experts say, possesses the weaponry and manpower to beat back the insurgency. But faced with a battle unlike any it has fought, past successes abroad may not translate to victory at home.
 
Although the military released a statement Friday saying no civilians have been killed in the conflict, and that nine of 12 women and children had been rescued from Boko Haram kidnappers, Amnesty International issued a report Thursday saying the military has a history of rights violations. In recent weeks, the rights group says, it has received reports of arbitrary arrests and soldiers dumping bodies at morgues.
 
According to Abdu, the Nigerian military has not fought a guerilla war since the country's civil war in the 1960s, and only recently saw Boko Haram take the form of an enemy it was well prepared to defeat.
 
“They are trained to fight territorial battles," says Abdu, explaining that Boko Haram's recent military-style attacks and seizures of northern districts compelled the military's aggressive response. "They are not trained to fight [with] guerillas, so when those territories began to emerge — personally, I think they were excited about it — they could go to the games reserve and drop bombs and disperse the training centers. They could go to borders, cordon the areas, arrest everybody.”
 
While the military appears poised to beat back the insurgency, political analyst and former University of Nigeria researcher Nkwachukwu Orji says Boko Haram has a history of appearing to succumb to defeat only to return stronger, better armed and more violent.
 
“They are going to fight to reclaim those territories that Boko Haram already controls," he said. "And then what happens to Boko Harm is that they will definitely find their way and escape to Niger, to Cameroon — distant places for some time — and watch what will happen after the six months emergency [rule].”
 
When the battle is won, Orji says, the military will be able to force Boko Haram to participate in peace talks, which, in the past, the group has rejected.
 
“Military engagement cannot solve this problem in the long run," said Orji. "What it can do is make sure the government has the control in terms of negotiating.”
 
On Tuesday, the military said it was planning to release some prisoners held in connection with Boko Haram activities, including all detained women and children. And while it appears to be a move towards negotiations, Abdu says he wonders if they are doing it simply because all the prisons are full.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: goddy eze from: UAE
May 24, 2013 3:27 PM
The only way to stop Boko Haram from coming back is to stop all Nigeria Embassies to stop issuing Visas to Pakistani and Afghanistan citizens from coming to Nigeria. the rate at which this guys are trooping into Nigeria is alarming. They come to Nigeria to train young Nigerian on how to make bombs and destroy Nigeria. Again drive out all this guys from Nigeria if you want Nigeria to have peace because they're going to destroy our country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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 Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
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.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs