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Nigeria Extends Emergency Rule As Officials Look To Cameroon in Bid to Police Borders

Posted on in Nigeria title_rule

Goodluck Jonathan’s request for an extension of the state of emergency has been granted by Nigerian lawmakers.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan requested earlier this week that lawmakers extend a state of emergency, which was initially declared in the northeastern region in May 2013.  On Thursday, that request was approved when senators unanimously backed Jonathan’s request and agreed “to extend the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states on the same terms and conditions.”  As such, the emergency rule in the three northeastern states will be extended for a further six months as of 12 November 2013.

Earlier this week, the president had requested that lawmakers extend the state of emergency, citing that the Islamist insurgency had not yet been contained.  In a letter sent by the President to lawmakers in both chambers of Nigeria’s parliament, Jonathan stated that “we have achieved considerable successes in containing the activities of the terrorist elements….However, some security challenges still exist.”

In May of this year, the President enforced emergency measures in the northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, regions of the country where he stated Boko Haram insurgents had seized territory, chased out local officials and effectively threatened Nigeria’s sovereignty.  On 15 May, one day after the state of emergency was imposed, Nigeria’s military announced the launch of a massive operation aimed at permanently ending the uprising.  Since then, mobile communications in the northern regions of Nigeria have been cut off, making it difficult to attain and confirm reports pertaining to ongoing attacks.  In turn, while thousands of additional troops and air power have since been deployed to the region, in a bid to curb attacks, the success of the military offensive remains uncertain.

Although the military has described Boko Haram as being in a state of disarray and on the defensive, the fact that hundreds of civilians have been killed by the terrorist group in recent weeks has cast doubts on these claims.  Furthermore, although the attacks appear to have partly shifted out of the major cities and into the more remote areas of the country, the number, scale and brutality of the attacks has remained unchanged.  In turn, the ongoing military operations have pushed Boko Haram militants further outward and away from their main stronghold of Maiduguri.  This has resulted in attacks spanning a wider region and has demonstrated the militant group’s capabilities in reorganization and resilience.  This has forced officials in Nigeria to look beyond its borders, a fact that was demonstrated this week when officials requested that Cameroon aid the Nigerian military in policing the shared border.  Many believe that the military operations have forced Boko Haram fightes into Nigeria’s north, towards the border with Niger and into the remote hills that border Cameroon.

While lawmakers swiftly approved Jonathan’s initial request for a state of emergency back in May, many officials believed that securing the extension would prove to be difficult.  While continuing massacres around Borno and Yobe may provided political justification for an extension, a bid to extend emergency rule in the state of Adamawa was seen as being “problematic,” as the area has seen far less violence than Borno and Yobe, and locals have been growing increasingly frustrated with the situation.

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