Breaking News Alert
Nigeria: Boko Haram on a revenge mission
This information was release to our office on the 1st April 2011 from local reporters in Bauchi. The Islamic sect Boko Haram has declared to be on a revenge mission following the death of their numerous members in the uprising of July 2009 and series of attack will be carried out during this election period. Of more recent alarm has been a surge in religious extremist violence in parts of northern Nigeria, including Borno State. Unfortunately, the Nigerian government does not want people to know what is going on in reference to Boko Haram. They are trying to keep away needful information from the general public.
A bomb blast reportedly went off yesterday in a police station in Bauchi metropolis. Although details were still very sketchy by press time last night, police sources said the bomb blast occurred in Dutse Tanshi area of the metropolis. It was not clear if there were casualties as the police were silent over the incident. There was uneasy calm in other parts of the metro yesterday as the news filtered into town. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Barau, confirmed the incident, but he declined further comments about casualty figures and other details. He, however, said that Dutse Tanshi was where Boko Haram men were killed in 2009, adding that the group had vowed then to retaliate the death of its members. It was not clear by press time yesterday if the blast was their handiwork as no one had claimed responsibility for it yet.
It was reinstated again that, they are on a mission to eliminate irresponsible political leaders of all learning and specifically mentioned two states governors, Bauchi and Borno and Christian religious leaders, Bishop A.T Moses, and Pastor Sunday I. Peters as seen as critics as well as anyone who provides information to the security services. The group has now begun to issue increasingly threatening and radical messages like this to the press, stating an intention to wage war on secular authorities and seek revenge on those it considers have betrayed it.
World media was briefly captivated in late 2009 when reports of a group popularly known as Boko Haram—a moniker roughly meaning that Western education is prohibited—clashed with local authorities in what became a vicious cycle of attack and counterattack. By the end of the fighting, security personnel and dozens of Boko Haram’s members and associates had been killed, including its leader, Muhammad Yusuf, who was captured alive and largely uninjured but did not survive police custody.
In October 2010, the reconstituted group struck again. Suspected Boko Haram militants gunned down a prominent Muslim scholar—known as both a critic of Boko Haram and an associate of Borno’s governor—and later attacked a police station near Maiduguri, Borno’s capital. These groups attract membership by defining themselves against the corruption and profligacy of religious elites and politicians.
In December 2010, according to the associated press in the northern town of Maiduguri, armed men dragged the pastor of Victory Baptist Church out of his home and then shot him to death as well as two people rehearsing for the carol service at the church were also killed. Afterwards, the mob set the church and the pastor’s house on fire.
The catalogue of deaths by this Islamic sect since July 2009 is calling for urgent attention. In September 2010, armed men attacked the prison at 6:40 p.m. and fought with the prison guards for two hours before letting loose over 700 inmates, including more than 100 Boko Haram members in the northern city of Bauchi which have spread to other parts of the country according to the reports. In November 2010, Pastor Daniel Okolu was killed in Lagos by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram.
A Case study from International Crisis Group Report of December 2010 shows the genesis of this conflict. According to International Crisis Group, Boko Haram needs to be properly understood to know how to tackle them. The violence in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi States in 2009 and 2010 pitted police and army against a rejectionist group commonly referred to as Boko Haram, raising again the issue of radical rejectionist groups. The immediate predecessor of Boko Haram was the so-called “Nigerian Taliban”, which emerged in Yobe and Borno states in 2003. Between 2003 and 2004, it fought security forces on three occasions. On 31 December 2003, roughly 200 clashed with police in Geidam and Kanamma, Yobe state. Some say the police provoked this others maintain the group’s sophisticated organisation implied plans for violence. Whichever was the case; the group raided two police stations, killed a policeman and seized some AK-47 rifles.
They subsequently attacked three police stations in the state capital, Damaturu, and confronted other police units near the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. After four days of fighting in January 2004, security forces routed them, killing at least eighteen and arresting dozens. The second clash followed an incident in June 2004, when four members of the group, arrested during the January fight, attempted to escape jail in Damaturu and were shot dead by police. Retaliating and apparently also trying to seize more guns, the group attacked police stations in Bama and Gworza (eastern Borno state, close to the Cameroon border) in September, killing six people and abducting four. Security forces again subdued them, killing 24 and arresting many more. Others fled into nearby Cameroon and Niger. On 8 October 2004, the group launched a third attack. Ambushing a police patrol in Kala-Balge, near Lake Chad, it killed three officers instantly and captured twelve, whom they later killed. Heavy deployments of police and army dispersed them: some again fled into Cameroon, police said, but most retreated to Maiduguri, according to locals. In 2006-2009, the group re-emerged, primarily in Borno state, under the banner “Boko Haram”.
Its leadership, particularly Mohammed Yusuf, showed it was a direct continuation of the Taliban. On 25 July 2009, police arrested several leaders on suspicion they were preparing for violence. The Bauchi state governor, Isa Yuguda, said he ordered the arrests after intelligence indicated the group was planning to over-run Bauchi city. They had already clashed with police in Borno state. Protesting the arrests, and probably also trying to free their detained leaders, several hundred members attacked the Dutsen Tanshi police station in Bauchi, on 26 July 2009, but they were repelled and at least 50 of them killed.
For the next four days, the group battled police, reinforced by the army, in Bauchi, Borno, Kano and Yobe states. The worst violence was in Maiduguri, where the sect was based. On 30 July, army units stormed its headquarters, captured Yusuf, who had fled to his father-in-law’s house, and handed him over to the police. He was shot dead in custody hours later.172 Exact casualty figures were never published, but the Red Cross reported over 780 bodies buried in mass graves.173 CAN showed 29 churches burnt and at least three pastors killed, and police listed 28 of its officers among those killed.
Unsurprisingly, the events of July 2009 did not put an end to the sect’s activities. Taking refuge in neighbouring Niger and Chad, or simply lying low in Maiduguri, it used martyrdom videos of the events to radicalise its membership, and in the first months of 2010, there were clashes with security forces. The group has now begun to issue increasingly radical messages to the press, stating an intention to wage war on secular authorities and seek revenge on those it considers have betrayed it. On 8 September 2010, it executed a spectacular prison break in Bauchi, a highly violent, military-type operation that freed 150 of its members and several hundred other prisoners.
One prison guard, one policeman and two civilians were reported killed. This has been followed by a series of assassinations of clerics and policemen who spoke out against the sect, principally in Maiduguri and Bauchi. The Taliban and Boko Haram are among several radical, anti-establishment groups that have emerged among Muslims in the region in recent years. The interpretations of their motivations and world views differ widely. Many believe that they are part of a generalised discontent with the Nigerian state and a product of a moribund economy. Others claim that they emerged from doctrinal religious disputes. In either case, they have been characterised by radical rejectionism, including refusal to enter dialogue or compromise with secular authorities.
The movements have attracted Muslim youth, including university students and some young people who apparently were revolted by corruption in their wealthy families. These middle class youths then developed a following among more marginalised youths. The initial Taliban numbered only a few hundred, but Boko Haram drew a much larger membership that was probably boosted by worsening unemployment. Most were Nigerian, but small numbers came from neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Members wore long beards, red or black headscarves and refused to use certain modern (purportedly Western) goods, such as wristwatches and safety helmets. The original Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was born in Girgir, Jakusko local government area, Yobe state, on 29 January 1970. He had basic Western education but undertook a Quranic education in Chad and Niger. He was a member of the Borno state Sharia Implementation Committee under Governor Mallah Kachallah (1999-2003) and active in debates on Islamic issues on local radio and television stations. He later joined the Taliban movement for a short period. A colleague recalled that even while on the committee, Yusuf was “against the system of government, and he used to regularly preach against it”.
The view that the group was merely opposed to Western education tends to oversimplify its complex and somewhat vague ideology. It is clear that it rejects secularism, seen as incompatible with Islam, and Western influence in general, considered the source of secularist ideology. Western education comes in for particular criticism, which echoes long-standing mistrust in northern Nigeria of colonial and Christian influence carried through schooling.
Yusuf constantly railed against what he saw as the corrupting influences of a “Godless” system of education introduced during colonial rule. However, this apparent rejection of Western education and associated technology sits uneasily with the organisation’s ready use of the internet to disseminate its ideas. As a recent study has shown, when challenged to define exactly what elements of Western education are objectionable or incompatible with Islam, Yusuf was unable to provide a clear answer.
At least more than 80 people have been killed since Christmas Eve in attacks across Nigeria including assaults against churches. Adding to the death toll are bomb blasts Friday 24th evening in Central Nigeria that killed 32 people and Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility for the attack. Boko Haram members have killed dozens of Christians, as well as police and local leaders. The Nigerian government has tried to crush the group, destroyed its mosque and arresting its leader but it appears to be reviving strongly. The sect has been blamed for a series of attacks in Bauchi, Maiduguri and other parts of northern Nigeria in recent months.
In January 2011, the ANPP gubernatorial candidate was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen along with six others including a 10 year old child in an attack claimed by Boko Haram. It has first been declared by pastor Sunday I. Peters that Boko Haram sect is a threat to the community in Bauchi as also commented by Rev. John Hayab, the general Secretary of Christian Association of Nigerian’s Kaduna State chapter.
The killing of Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, along with several others linked to his organisation, has provided those who took over the group with a valuable recruitment tool. In the words of an observer, Yusuf’s killing “has now made his followers to see him as a martyr of Islam. Many of them now look forward to dying in similar manner as their leader, and this may heighten insecurity in the society. Members of Boko Haram said they would avenge the extrajudicial killing of their leader “even if it takes one hundred years”.
However, it is advisable to be aware of the Boko Haram revenge mission for precaution to be taken and all necessary measures be put in place. We are calling on Amnesty International and other institutions to call Nigerian government into action over this matter. Furthermore, security forces should be awake to monitor any suspicious movement and offer protections to people that are concerned otherwise, another deadly attack is looming.
Adenson International Campaign Centre
Bauchi Based Tel: +2348063596498
Europe Office: +44(0)644765963