Violence posed by Boko Haram triggers instability in Nigeria
by Daily Sabah with AFP
MAIDUGURIJan 25, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AFP
Jan 25, 2015 12:00 am
Nigeria's military says Boko Haram attacked Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria, and a soldier says dozens of combatants have been killed and wounded. Troops are blocking roads leading to Maiduguri, a city of more than 1 million, preventing civilians from escaping. Amnesty International says hundreds of thousands of civilians "are now at grave risk."
Amid reports of killings and kidnappings carried out by Boko Haram, the presidential election that will take place in February 14 is seen as an important step to restore peace and order in the face of growing threat posed by the radical militants. The United States Secretary General John Kerry arrived Nigeria on Sunday to hold separate meetings with Nigeria's president and his leading opponent "to emphasize the importance of ensuring the upcoming elections are peaceful, nonviolent, and credible," as the United State Department noted prior to his trip to Nigeria.
No chief American diplomat has visited Nigeria since 2012. U.S. policy calls for senior American officials to stay away from countries as their elections approach.
The U.S. top diplomat appealed to President Jonathan and Buhari to instruct their supporters to refrain from violence, said senior State Department officials, who briefed reporters Saturday under ground rules that they not be identified. Jonathan's disputed 2011 election victory triggered riots in the north that killed an estimated 800 people.
The American diplomats expressed concern about what could be a prolonged election. Under Nigeria's election laws, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote, as well as more than 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of the states to avoid a runoff. If no candidate wins by those margins, a runoff election is to be held on Feb. 28. If those margins still are not achieved, a third runoff would be held in a week, winnable by a simple majority.
Boko Haram will be an important topic of Kerry's discussions, State Department officials said. In a report last week, the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research corporation, called the group a locally focused insurgency largely fueled by bad government.
"The conflict is being sustained by masses of unemployed youth who are susceptible to Boko Haram recruitment, an alienated and frightened northern population that refuses to cooperate with state security forces, and a governance vacuum that has allowed the emergence of militant sanctuaries in the northeast," the CNA paper said.
"The conflict is also being perpetuated by the Nigerian government, which has employed a heavy-handed, overwhelmingly (military) approach to dealing with the group and has paid little attention to the underlying contextual realities and root causes of the conflict," the report said, a view that comports with the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community.
In December, Nigeria cancelled the last stage of U.S. training of a Nigerian army battalion, a reflection of strained counterterrorism relations between the two governments.
Nigeria has been dragged into a major crisis as the extremist group in Nigeria, Boko Haram, has been continuing its violent acts unabated in the northern part of the country. The militants carried out various deadly attacks in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno. The group killed hundreds in deadly attacks as the death toll has reportedly reached 2,000. The town of Baga, located close to Nigeria's border with Chad, was under attack as Boko Haram tried to seize power in northern Nigeria and bordering Cameroon and Chad to build an Islamic state.
Boko Haram's mass abduction of more than 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok in the northeastern state of Borno on April, 14 has led to great indignation and sparked world-wide protests. The girls remain captive and the group still threatens to keep up abductions mainly targeting girls.