Nigeria: Let's Make A Secret Deal


August 22, 2012:  The government admitted that it had begun secret peace negotiations with senior Boko Haram earlier this month. The talks are being held in Saudi Arabia and were arranged by Saudi political and religious officials. The government wants to stop the violence but knows that it cannot deliver the main Boko Haram demand: an end to corruption (especially among government officials). But the government can pay off senior Boko Haram leaders, make cosmetic changes, and declare victory, as long as the terror attacks stop. The government has the backing of the traditional Islamic leadership in the north, which sees Boko Haram as murderous rivals. The Boko Haram clerics represent a small percentage of the Moslem clergy in the north and Boko Haram considers any Moslem clergy that do not back them to be heretics and subject to assassination if they do not back Boko Haram. A growing number of clerics are being killed by Boko Haram death squads and that has alarmed Saudi Arabia, which has long had to deal with similar extremism (al Qaeda and many other similar groups).  The Saudis know that these groups eventually burn out because their terror tactics ultimately anger the majority of Moslems.

It was recently revealed that Shell Oil, the largest foreign firm operating oil fields in the Niger River delta, paid over $30 million a year to the Nigerian military, during 2007-9, for additional security on oil facilities. That was about a quarter of what the company was paying for security. Tribal rebels and oil stealing gangs had shut down much of the oil production in the Delta, forcing the government to send thousands of additional soldiers and police to the delta to protect their main source of income (oil sales revenue). The security forces are notoriously corrupt, so the additional payments from the oil company were meant to insure protection. After 2009 an amnesty deal broke up most of the gangs while the oil theft continued in a more organized form, controlled by politicians and senior government officials. Anti-corruption efforts were making it more difficult to steal oil money after the government received it, so politicians went into the oil theft business. This is now an open secret and there is pressure to shut down this form of corruption. But with all that oil income each year, it's difficult to keep corrupt politicians away.

August 19, 2012: In the northeast (Yobe State) Boko Haram gunmen attacked a Catholic church and a police station. The attackers were repulsed.

August 15, 2012: In the north police attributed 14 deaths (in several incidents) to Boko Haram activity.

August 14, 2012: In the northern city of Kaduna a Boko Haram bomb went off prematurely outside a mosque, killing two terrorists and a bystander. The bomb was apparently intended for a prominent Moslem cleric who preached against Boko Haram.

August 12, 2012: In the north (Borno State) soldiers raided a Boko Haram base, killing at least twenty people. One soldier was killed.





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