Tag Archives: Maiduguri

Nigeria’s Launches Second Cellphone Blackout Amidst an Increase of Boko Haram Attacks

Posted on in Nigeria title_rule

On Wednesday, officials in Nigeria re-imposed a telephone blackout on a number of areas within the country’s north-eastern Borno state, the base of Boko Haram militants who have over the past few months intensified their attacks, which have claimed scores of lives.

According to army spokesman Colonel Muhammad Dole, “GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) services have been seized in Borno again and this is one of the sacrifices that people have to make,” adding that “there is an on going operation and we want to get it right.  We are hopeful GSM services would be restored.”  Although no further details were provided, Col. Dole noted “in the on going operation we have reached a stage whereby the cooperation of everybody is necessary in order to subdue the common enemy.”  Residents confirmed the cell phone black out, with most people waking up on Wednesday and finding that they could not longer make calls on their mobiles.  Some residents in Maiduguri, Borno’s state capital, indicated Wednesday that if the phone blackout would restore law and order, then they backed the move, however some are doubting whether or not the military would achieve this desire goal.  One local resident stated “when they seized the GSM network last year, the terrorists were not perturbed, they kept killing people.  GSM services were only restored when the terrorists attacked military bases in December.”

Phone services were initially frozen last May until December in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe after the government imposed a state of emergency.

While speaking to reporters, Col. Dole also thanked the youth vigilantes, also known as civilian JTF (Joint Task Force) for their “unprecedented support to the military” in the on-going offensive against Islamists.

Despite an enhanced military presence in the northern region of Nigeria, since last May, more than 1,000 people have been killed.   Violence by Boko Haram militants have been raging in Nigeria since 2009, and has claimed thousands of lives however in recent weeks, the militant group’s campaign has been particularly ferocious, with some 500 people killed in suspected Islamist attacks since the start of the year.  Worst hit by the attacks are villages in remote and rural areas near Borno’s border with Cameroon.

Meanwhile officials and eyewitnesses in Katsina have reported that at least sixty-nine people have been killed in attacks on villages located in the northwestern state.  Reports have indicated that the attacks occurred Wednesday.

Witnesses reported Thursday that attackers rode motorcycles into villages in broad daylight and killed whomever they found.   While this attacks is just the latest incident to hit northern Nigeria, police officials in the state have indicated that the attack is not linked to Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which is mainly active further east in Borno, but instead appears to have been carried out by ethnic Fulani cattle herders who have a history of tension with local farmers.  According to state police chief Hurdi Mohammed, “the victims include men, women and children.  Rescue teams are still combing nearby bushes to search for more bodies.  Local MP Abdullahi Abbas Machika indicated that forty-seven people were buried in one village alone in Katsina state after Wednesday’s attack.

The attack in Katsina state comes as President Goodluck Jonathan visits the state to commission some government projects.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , ,

Car Bombing in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Posted on in Nigeria title_rule

A car bomb has exploded in the north eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, with fears that the latest attack to target the region has left many casualties.

At least seventeen people were killed on Tuesday when an explosion targeted a busy market on the public holiday that marks the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.  Police officials have indicated that the explosion occurred at about 1:30 PM (1230 GMT) around the post office area of Maiduguri, which has been hit previously by Boko Haram militants.  According to Lawan Tanko, police chief for Borno state, “from our preliminary reports, we have 17 dead and at least five injured from the blast in the post office area,” however he warned that the toll could rise as casualties were taken from the bustling market to medical centres for treatment, adding that “these figures are likely to change by the time we get full reports from our men in the field.

Initial reports at the scene suggest that the blast was caused by either a car bomb or suicide bomber, however there has not yet been any confirmations from the authorities.  Police Chief Tanko has noted that “the bomb was detonated in the midst of a large crowd of traders while a truck carrying firewood was passing by.”  A witness to the bombing stated that “an explosive device concealed in a sack was abandoned near a butcher’s stall by unknown persons around Kasuwar Jagwal.”

The explosion caused panic in the city, where residents were in the midst of celebrating Eid Milad un Nabi.  While the market has since been closed, with police officers carrying out investigations, the rest of the city remains on high alert as possible attacks and suicide bombings may be carried out in the coming days.

Over the past several weeks, Maiduguri has witnessed a number of attacks.  On 2 December 2013, the northern spiritual home city of Boko Haram was raided by Boko Haram insurgents who burnt aircraft, seized weapons and razed buildings at military bases throughout the city.  On Sunday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen killed five at a village market located 22 kilometres from Maiduguri.  During the attack, the militants burnt cars, shops and tents storing grain.

Tagged as: , , ,

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.

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

Doubts Emerge Over Death of Boko Haram Leader

Posted on in Africa, Nigeria title_rule

Doubts have emerged this week over the Nigerian military’s claims that the leader of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram may have been killed.  Questions have been raised over the timing of the announcement, which came on the day that the Joint Task Force (JTF) concluded its work and handed over its duties to a newly created military division that has been charged with the battle to end Boko Haram’s four-year insurgency.

On Monday, a security task force in north-eastern Nigeria issued a statement indicating that Abubakar Shekau, who was declared a “global terrorist” by the United States, “may have died” from a gunshot wound after a clash with soldiers on Jun 30.”  The statement further noted that “it is greatly believed that Shekau may have died between 25 July to 3 August 2013” after being taken over the border into Amitchide in neighboring Cameroon.  The statement also indicated that an intelligence report suggests that Shekau was shot when soldiers raided a Boko Haram base at Sambisa Forest in north-eastern Nigeria.

However by Tuesday, local media reported that there had been increasing unease within the military pertaining to the claims.  Task force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa declined to comment when contacted about the statement, indicating only that he had left Maiduguri, which is the epicentre of Boko Haram’s insurgency and where the force was based.  National defence spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade has also distanced himself from the statement.  Some sources have indicated that senior members within the military were unhappy with the release of the statement as there was not yet enough evidence to make such claims and that intelligence was still being analyzed.

Claims of Shekau’s death come one week after the Nigerian military stated that on 14 August, it had killed Boko Haram’s second-in-comment, Momodu Bama, also known by his alias “Abu Saad.”  However so far, there have been confirmations relating to his death.  In turn, a video message released on 12 August depicted a man who appeared to be Shekau, who insisted that he was in good health.  He had also referred to attacks which had occurred in early August.  The military statement released on Monday however has specified that the video was a fake.  So far there have been no independent confirmations pertaining to this video.

Washington’s response to these latest claims have come with the US State Department stating that it had seen the reports pertaining to Shekau and that it was currently “working to ascertain the facts,” nothing that he had already been falsely reported dead in 2009.  US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf added that “he is the most visible leader of Boko Haram, and if his death turns out to be true, the loss of such a central and well-known figure would set back Boko Haram’s operations and remove a key voice from its efforts to mobilize violent extremists in Nigeria and around the world.”

Shekau has been considered the leader of Boko Haram ever since the terrorist group’s founder Muhammad Yusuf, died in 2009 while in police custody.  Since taking over, the terrorist group’s insurgency has seen a violent turn, with thousands being killed in attacks that have been carried out on school children, teachers the UN, the police, north-eastern traditional leaders, journalists, mobile phone towers and ordinary Nigerians going about their lives.  In March of this year, the United States placed a US $7 million (5.3 million euro) bounty on his head.  If these most recent claims of Abubakar Shekau’s death are confirmed, his passing will likely represent a significant moment in the future of the terrorist group, however it is unlikely that Boko Haram will end its violence in the northern regions of the Nigeria.  Instead, this may fuel further retaliatory attacks that will likely target political and security officials along with military bases.  Furthermore, the group has a number of factions, such as al-Qaeda-linked Ansaru, which has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of a number of Westerners.  Such factions are believed to operate independently and any confirmations of Shekau’s death will likely result in retaliatory kidnappings and attacks that will be linked to his death.




Tagged as: , , , , , , , , ,

Nigeria Declares State of Emergency

Posted on in Nigeria title_rule

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three states after a series of deadly attacks were carried out by Boko Haram militants.  MS Risk advises any individuals or companies in the states of Adamawa, Borno or Yobe to remain vigilant and to monitor any developments and to be alert to any further announcements made by State Government.  We currently advise against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State as well as Gombe State and Bauchi State.  This is due to the continued threat of violent attacks.  Recent attacks in these regions have focused on public places, including restaurants and bars, and have resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries.  If you are planning to work in northern Nigeria, even in those regions which are not subject to specific travel advisories, we advise you that you will require a high level of security.  Any employers in the region should be reviewing their security arrangements, especially in light of the recent kidnappings of westerners from protected compounds.

In a state address late on Tuesday, President Jonathan indicated that the military would be taking “all necessary action” to “put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists” in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.  He further noted that “what we
are facing is not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity.”  This is in reference to the recent attacks that have occurred on government buildings as well as the killings of officials and other civilians in which the President has indicated that “these actions amount to a declaration of war.”  The announcement is also the first time that the President has acknowledged that Boko Haram Islamists have “taken over “ parts of Borno state.

The President also ordered that more troops be deployed to states located in the hostile north-eastern region of the country.  Since the state of emergency declaration, Nigeria’s military has announced a massive deployment of troops to the region.  Military sources have also indicated that fighter jets would be deployed, raising the possibility that Nigeria could carry out air strikes within its own territory.  Since the announcement, top US officials have called on Nigeria to protect the rights of its civilians and to avoid any “heavy-handed” response against the rebels.  State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell has stated that “we call on Nigerian officials to ensure that Nigeria’s security forces protect civilians in any security response in a wy that respects human rights and the rule of law.”  He further added that “we have made clear to the Nigerian government that its heavy-handed response to insecurity in northern Nigeria and the failure to address human rights violations will potentially affect our ability to provide security assistance going forward.”

Although the state of emergency was declared in the states of Yobe and Adamawa, it is widely believed that the military offensive will focus directly on the state of Borno, which shares borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.  It is in this state that Boko Haram, which states that it is fighting in order to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, has used the capital, Maiduguri, as its home base.  However it is known that Boko Haram fighters have relocated to the remote border regions following a number of crackdowns that have occurred in the city.  Furthermore, the regions‘ porous borders have enabled criminal groups and weapons to freely move between the countries further exasperated due to the Nigerian’s military limited presence in these areas.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , ,