Nigeria: This Is War


January 21, 2012: In the wake of a growing number of Boko Haram attacks on Christians, some religious leaders are urging Christians to do whatever it takes to defend themselves. So far this year Boko Haram violence has killed about 70 people, most of them Christian. Earlier this month Boko Haram began distributing a video in which the Boko Haram leader makes it clear that his organization was at war with Christians. This alarmed political and religious leaders, who pleaded with their constituents to refrain from religious violence. Last year, Boko Haram violence left about 500 dead. Tribal violence left about a thousand dead. On the positive side, the Boko Haram video made it clear that the Islamic radicals were concentrating on Nigeria (and making the entire nation an Islamic religious dictatorship) and apparently not concerned with international terrorism. Boko Haram has always made a point of describing itself as modeled on the Taliban, not al Qaeda.

Over the last week, petrol (gasoline) supplies have dried up, for no apparent reason. But most Nigerians suspect corrupt officials in the national petroleum company seeking to frustrate anti-corruption efforts by the government. President Goodluck Johnson has made some unusually vigorous efforts to identify and prosecute corrupt officials, and the many corrupt politicians and bureaucrats are fighting back. The fuel price increases were hugely unpopular, in part because all the corruption associated with fuel production and distribution and these artificial fuel shortages apparently hope to benefit from that anger. Fuel price increase unrest began right after January 1st and grew until the government backed off on the 16th.

In the northern city of Kano a 24 hour curfew was declared in the wake of yesterday's Boko Haram bomb attacks.

January 20, 2012: In the northern city of Kano, four bomb attacks by Boko Haram on police and media targets, followed by gun battles, left over a hundred dead. In the south (the Niger Delta) gunmen kidnapped an American citizen and demanded $333,000 ransom.

January 18, 2012: Boko Haram gunmen freed Kabiru Sokoto, the deputy commander of Boko Haram and planner of a Christmas Day attack on a church. Sokoto was being moved to another prison. Sokoto had been arrested the day before (at the home of the governor of Bomo State) and police corruption was immediately suspected in the escape. A senior police commander was quickly arrested, on suspicion that he let Boko Haram know the details of Sokoto being moved.

January 17, 2012: : In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram gunmen attacked a police checkpoint. Four of the attackers were killed. Elsewhere in the city, another attack left two soldiers and four civilians dead.

January 16, 2012: Responding to over a week of protests, the government agreed to restore a third of the fuel subsidies that were cut on January 1. As part of a government spending cut program, decades old subsidies on fuel were eliminated at the start of the year. This doubled the cost of most fuels, with petrol (gasoline) going from 45 cents per liter ($1.70 per gallon) to at least 94 cents per liter ($3.50 per gallon). The subsidies consumed $8 billion a year, about a quarter of government spending. The fuel subsidy cuts caused demonstrations and attacks, but the government did not back off at first. This compromise is supposed to halt the strikes and demonstrations that have been going on since the first week of January.

January 10, 2012: Boko Haram gunmen attacked a pub in the northern state of Yobe, killing five policemen and three civilians (including a ten year old girl). In the south, a bomb killed five people outside a mosque.



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