Suicide bombings, mass kidnappings, tens of thousands of people killed. A ghastly insurgency by the homegrown Islamic extremist group Boko Haram marks 10 years this week in northeastern Nigeria, where many residents say life has been set back by decades. “It feels like 100 years, because everything seems to be moving slowly and not getting any better for me and my family,” said Hassan Mamman, who fled to Maiduguri, the region’s main city, after Boko Haram attacks on his rural home. He is among millions of people displaced. “I miss my community and always crave it but the merchants of death just won’t let us have that much-needed peace.” Friday marks a decade since Nigerian forces clashed with the extremists at Maiduguri’s central mosque. More than 700 people were killed, including leader Mohammed Yusuf, according to officials and rights groups. From that violence sprang the insurgency of Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means “Western education is taboo.” The extremists have sought to establish a strict Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, carrying out attacks as far away as the capital, Abuja. The violence has also spilled into neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. In recent years some fighters have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, creating a new threat. Boko Haram seized the world’s attention with the mass kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, sparking a #BringBackOurGirls campaign supported by then-U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and others. While many schoolgirls have since been freed, countless other people
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who made the defeat of the Nigeria-based Boko Haram a major goal of his presidency when he was elected in 2015, “is preoccupied with re-election campaigns” while many homes are filled with mourners, human rights activist Okechukwu Nwanguma said in a statement on Saturday.
Nigeria is on the verge of change. The current president Muhammadu Buhari is tackling corruption– known as Buhari’s anti-corruption war. During his election campaign, he declared that one of the things he will accomplish is to fight corruption. Some of the recent cases have seen politicians and people in power arrested for extortion.
The setback in the war against Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and the Boko Haram insurgency from which it split in 2016 comes as President Muhammadu Buhari seeks a second term in elections next February. “The situation in the northeast is deteriorating,” said one security source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They are running out of weapons, ammo and basic equipment. They are exhausted.”
The vigilante, Baba Ali Musa, said the militants came on motorbikes and in pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, while others fired rocket-propelled grenades on the town.
“They came toward the town shooting sporadically,” he said. “They were saying if you know you’re an innocent person just leave the town, our target is not you, or if you wish to stay with us, it’s no matter, you can stay with us.”