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Boko Haram and the Crisis in Nigeria

Nigeria along with its economic crisis, bad governance, has a huge problem at hand which they’re struggling to cope with is the terrorist organization Boko Haram.

A graph representing the number of civilian deaths caused by the terrorist outfit. (Source: BBC)

This organization started decimating the country socially and economically in 2002 when its founder Mohammed Yusuf established control over the Borno state. However, in 2009, Mr. Yusuf was killed in Police custody. Post this, the organization has gained momentum under a new leader Abubakar Shekau.

Since then, bomb blasts in market places, kidnapping school children, and conflict with the Nigerian army have posed tremendous challenges for the Nigerian Government. Boko Haram envisions Nigeria to be an Islamic state and is keen on overthrowing the government. The current president, Muhammadu Buhari back in 2015 promised a terror-free state, however, terror attacks in the country have only risen.

The group's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad". The ideology of this organization is a staunch one. It believes in an Islamic state, promotes a version of Islam that makes it ‘haram’, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any social or political activity that is associated with the Western Society. This includes being apolitical, not contesting elections, wearing shirts and trousers, and receiving western-style education. Furthermore, they’re of the view that the state is being controlled by non-adherents, whether or not the president is Muslim or not - and it has expanded its military mission by focusing on neighboring states.

In 2009, the group unleashed vicious attacks in the country targeting police stations and important government offices in Maiduguri, the capital of the Borno state. This led to widespread killings and many members of the Boko Haram organization also died. Furthermore, many civilians fled the city to save their lives. However, the Nigerian army took control of its headquarters, killed more members, and captured Mohammed Yusuf, and killed him, as well. Yusuf’s body was shown on television with the government declaring an end of Boko Haram.

The government paid a heavy price for this statement as the fighters consolidated under Abubakar Shekau and quickly started their insurgencies. The organization at that point started to complete more brassy assaults in northern and focal Nigeria, including bombing houses of worship, transport positions, bars, military encampment, and even the police and UN headquarters in the capital, Abuja.

More recently, on the night of 15th April 2014, more than 200 girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, in Borno state, Nigeria. The responsibility for the kidnappings was claimed by Boko Haram. 57 girls escaped in the following months, while others were slowly captured by the Nigerian Army. However, many girls are still are missing.

In May 2016, Amina Ali, one of the missing girls claims that the remaining girls are still alive, however, six of them have been killed. ‘’Is she dead, is she alive, is she married or not married, is she suffering or not suffering, we do not know’’, recalls Hanwa’s sister, one of those kidnapped by Boko Haram.

In 2020, the group claimed responsibility for allegedly killing 76 farmers and the grim search for bodies still continues after gunmen attacked the area outside Borno state’s capital, Maiduguri, on Saturday, slaughtering dozens of laborers in rice fields near the village of Zabarmari. This incident took place on December 2nd after one of its members was handed to the Nigerian Army by the farmers.

As many as 37,500 civilians have been killed, more than 2.5 million people have been internally displaced in the Lake Chad Basin. The largest Islamist militant groups in Africa—have conducted terrorist attacks on religious and political groups, local police, and the military, as well as indiscriminately attacking civilians in busy markets and villages.

This terror group has mercilessly ripped apart the entire nation. There are blatant violations of basic human rights and there’s an urgent need for intervention by powerful nations and international bodies. Despite efforts, not much of it has come to fruition and the future of Nigerians still seems to be gloomy.

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