By Yukti Makan, Symbiosis Law School, Pune.
Although, Nigeria has ever faced security challenges, but the one caused by the activities of Boko Haram, the Islamist Sect, remains the most significant. This Islamist group has killed at least 3500 people since 2009 when it first started the preaching of Islamic religion to promote Shia law all over the state. The sect claims responsibility for several bombings and snip activities in the northern and central Nigeria, thereby placing the world on the verge of disintegration. The Boko Haram defiance has created space for the terrorism that has led to the increase in the crime rate in Nigeria. Boko Haram traits are especially seen in the Northern parts of Nigeria in the form of abduction, Bombings, slaughtering of human beings etc. Over the past few years, Boko Haram has created widespread Insecurity across Northern region of Nigeria, increased tensions among the ethnic communities, interrupted development activities and insecurity of the investors.
Boko basically means, “Western education is forbidden.” It also opposed man-made laws. Mohammed Yusuf founded it in 2002, to propagate Sharia Law across the country. Boko Haram is a Jihadist terrorist organization in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram’s brutal campaign includes- a suicide attack on the United Nations building in Abuja in 2011, repeated attacks, killing dozens of students, the burning of villages, ties to regional terror groups, and the abduction of more than two hundred schoolgirls in April 2014. In May 2014, the U.S. deployed a small group of military advisers to help find the kidnapped girls, and France sent soldiers to Niger to help and coordinate with the military action in February 2015.
Boko Haram was responsible for the daily attacks in Borno and Yobe state and even the Bombings of UN Quarters in 2012. Boko Haram has attacked Nigeria’s police and army, politicians, schools, religious buildings, public institutions, and civilians with increasing regularity since 2009. More than ten thousand people have been killed in Boko Haram related violence, and 1.5 million have been displaced. The U.S. Department of State designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization in 2013.
Attacks continued and by May 2013, it could be seen that there was a greater influence by Al- Qaeda. In May 2013, Nigeria assembled a Joint Task Force (JTF) of military and police units to battle Boko Haram and declared a state of emergency in three northeast states-Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. Violence returned in April 2014 with the bombing of a bus station that killed nearly one hundred people and abducted more than two hundred schoolgirls in northeastern Nigeria. But few girls managed to escape. Boko Haram attacks were accelerated in 2015 which were evidenced by the Elections being postponed for Six weeks until March 2015.
Until now also the Boko Haram activities can be seen in the parts of Nigeria. On 3rd January 2015, Boko attacked Baga and seizing its military base. In late January 2015, a coalition of military forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger began a counterinsurgency campaign against Boko Haram. The Chad Army killed over 200 Boko Haram militants. Soon afterwards, Boko Haram launched an attack on the Cameroonian town of Fotokol, killing 81 civilians, 13 Chadian soldiers and 6 Cameroonian soldiers. Boko Haram militants attacked multiple mosques between July 1st and 2nd. Forty-eight men and boys were killed on the 1st at one mosque in Kukawa. A large population was wounded and many men were killed in numerous mosques.
Boko Haram gets funding from bank robberies and kidnapping ransoms. Cash was moved around by couriers, making it impossible to track, and communication is conducted face-to-face. Their mode of operation, which is thought to include paying local youths to track army movements, is such that less funding is required to carry out attacks. The local supporters of Boko Haram were also a main source of funding. Islamist Sympathizers paid Boko Haram for preaching Islam in the nation. Foreign Donors and fake charity organizations were also a source of finance to Boko Haram. The Boko Haram group employs an Islamic model of money transfer called hawala, which is based on an honor system and a global network of agents that made the financing difficult to track. Certain arrested, officials also revealed that Boko Haram also received its funding from Al-Qaeda and other groups in Saudi Arabia.
According to an expert on terrorist finance – Loretta Napoleoni, Boko Haram funds itself by trafficking drugs from drug cartels in Latin America. Boko Haram was engaged in many forms of smuggling and from many other designated terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden himself sent $3 million in seed money to Nigeria to fund the spreading of his ideologies, and some of this money were used to help start the Boko Haram group. This information came from a Nigerian researcher’s interview with a member of Boko Haram “who was very knowledgeable about the origins of the group.”
The youth is one of the greatest assets of any country. The National Youth Development Policy (2001) asserted that youths are the foundation of a society. Their energies, Investments define the pattern of development and security of the nation. The same situation was there with Boko Haram. The group employed youths in their group as the youth also found an easy way of survival and to fulfill their dreams.
Nigeria is ranked 14th in the list out of 177 countries considered in the ranking by the fund for peace. Boko Haram traits were also a bad signal to the Foreign Institutional Investors. Many children died and many have become orphans due to Boko Haram’s slaughtering that killed many people.
Manufacturers of Nigeria are totally disrupted due to the insecurity in the Nation and many of them have also expressed their frustration. The Insecurity and threat of Boko Haram are not only witnessed in Nigeria but also in the neighbouring countries.
The Paris Summit in May 2014 was a result of the Boko Haram’s threat evidenced by the Boko Haram kidnapping of a French family in Northern Cameroon. Consequently, U.S. and UK also extended cooperation with Nigeria to quell the insurgency.
The elected President Muhammad Buhari has also issued audacious vow to permanently eradicate the roots of the Jihad group-Boko Haram.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Boko Haram’s insurgency has become a dangerous problem. Although, it initially emerged as a localized Nigerian problem, but with time it has transformed into a regional threat. To protect the rights of the people given by Nigerian Constitution, a committee on Enforced Disappearances was formed that came up with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. By creating job opportunities for young people will increase youth employment and help dry up Boko Haram’s recruiting base. Protecting and strengthening human security and drying up terrorist funding stream should also be considered. Operationalisation of counter-terrorism strategy will also be an addition to encounter terrorist activities of Boko Haram. Effective legislation that shall adequately punish offenders and deter potential criminals must be put in place.