Boko Haram and the Nigerian Predicaments
By Henry Ekwuruke

Houses reduced to rubble, smell of burning flesh reported in Bama and Buni Yadi. The dreaded Boko Haram Islamist sect attacked the northeast Nigerian village of Bama last week, killing at least 98 people from the last official count, including school children. Armed insurgents stormed the town early Wednesday morning, firing on a school, shooting or burning to death dozens of people.

The palace of a traditional ruler of one of West Africa's oldest Islamic kingdoms was thoroughly trashed.

Reporters described the village as a wasteland of burnt buildings that still smelt faintly of charred flesh. Journalists reported that a District Head of Goniri Ward, Alhaji Baa Shehu Terab was among those killed by the insurgents. Over 500 buildings, which included the palace of monarch of the town, Shehu of Bama, Alhaji Kyari Ibn El-Kanemi, along with the house of the local government chairman, residential houses, shops, schools and markets were destroyed by fire. Other buildings included the local government secretariat, public offices and several buildings occupied by security forces, among others.

Reporters described the village as a wasteland of burnt buildings that still smelt faintly of charred flesh. Surviving women and children gathered what few possessions they had left and carried them off on their heads to find shelter elsewhere.

"We recovered 98 bodies that have already been buried since the attack," Akura Satomi, a pro-government civilian militia leader said.

At least 200 people last month have been killed in two separate attacks. Boko Haram, fighting for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, poses the main threat to Nigeria's transformation agenda. Islamists killed 106 people in the village of Igze on Sunday. The Borno state governor conceded that the rebels were better armed and motivated than government forces, a charge the Nigerian military vehemently denied.

America has since condemned that attacks as "senseless." While asking the government to do more!

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered extra troops into northeast Nigeria to crush Boko Haram last year. Boko Haram wants to create a breakaway Islamic state in the largely Muslim northern Nigeria. The offensive has thus far failed to crush the rebellion. The government's co-opting of poorly armed civilian militia has also spurred massive Boko Haram reprisals against civilians.

A local monarch, the Shehu of Bama lamented the violence. "It is as if government is not taking this problem seriously. To be frank, the morale of people
here about government is zero." The Shehu says the crisis has the potential of breaking the country, lamented that it was unfortunate the way the federal government was handling it as if it was a north problem, insisting that the people of the area were robbed because of their disposition of leaving everything to God.

He asked that "can the federal government treat the people of other areas, especially in the south like this without their wrath, it is sad that daily people get killed and no one is doing something big to stop this."

There had been a public outcry over the increased rate of the massacre of innocent civilians, including schoolchildren, by Boko Haram terrorists in the North-Eastern, Nigeria.

The Nigeria's Senate Committee on Defence and Army last week released a statement condemning the atrocity being unleashed by Boko Haram elements on innocent citizens and in particular the massacre of students of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State.

Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, has since relocated to the North-East to personally supervise the war against Boko Haram insurgents in the zone.

He has also embarked on a major overhaul of the army hierarchy in the zone as part of government's strategy to crush the insurgents.


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Published: 01/03/2016