Nigeria: Pride and Prejudice

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June 4, 2014: The government revealed that it is prosecuting fifteen officers (at least four of them generals) for aiding Boko Haram. It’s unclear if this was done just for money or because of intimidation or sympathy for the Islamic radical cause was also involved. Some Moslem officers have made no secret of their sympathy for Boko Haram and radical solutions to the many problems that plague the country. The accused officers are said to have supplied Boko Haram with weapons, ammo and equipment as well as information on planned military operations. This was said to have explained the large number of army units ambushed by Boko Haram or raids that found Boko Haram personnel already gone.

Such corruption is not unknown in the military and is quite common throughout Africa. Some of the accused have already been found guilty. The investigations that uncovered all this was part of a growing anti-corruption effort. Often such investigations of military personnel are suppressed if the officers are working for powerful politicians. But working for widely hated Islamic terrorists like Boko Haram made these offenders easy targets and other military personnel had no hesitation in providing information and testimony. Such treasonous actions had been rumored for months, as soldiers noted suspicious activity by some of their superiors and spoke to civilians and even journalists about it.

These corruption prosecutions have made many senior politicians and their mass media supporters wary of accepting foreign assistance to deal with the mass kidnapping. The fear is that more attention from foreigners will simply uncover and publicize more of the corruption in Nigeria. All this misbehavior is not news to most Nigerians, but the senior people like to pretend it doesn’t exist when they travel abroad to enjoy all their stolen wealth. With the international media doing more stories on how widespread corruption is in Nigeria the most corrupt (and wealthiest) officials won’t be able to pretend to just be “successful businessmen” while outside the country. This sort of thing could escalate into UN “crimes against humanity” investigations and all sort of unpleasantness. Best to keep the foreigners at arm’s length and justify that with appeals to nationalism and self-reliance. So foreigners sent to help are told to work quietly and with little or no media contact. The foreigners have largely complied, rather than risk being told to leave. Western nations have sent several surveillance aircraft to assist Nigeria in finding and recovering over 200 kidnapped girls. Britain has sent an ASTOR radar aircraft to Ghana while the U.S. has an MC-12W operating from Niger, a Global Hawk UAV from Sicily and three UAVs from Chad. Nigeria is reluctant to allow foreign aircraft to operate from inside Nigeria.

One of the embarrassing stories Nigeria failed to keep out of the news was about the corruption and incompetence related to Nigeria’s own UAV fleet. It recently came out that the Nigerian military had purchased nine Israeli Aerostar UAVs in 2007. Nigeria paid several million dollars more per Aerostar than the usual $15 million price. While Nigeria may have also purchased training, maintenance equipment, some spare parts and technical support that still left millions more being paid than would normally be the case. That money probably went for cash to be siphoned off by government and military officials. The reason for the Aerostar purchase was the military effort to suppress the criminal gangs in the Niger Delta that were interfering with oil production. That problem was largely settled with a 2009 amnesty deal and nothing was heard about the Aerostars in action. Even after Boko Haram became active in the north in 2010 there was no sign or mention of the Aerostars. The Israeli firm that sold Nigeria the Aerostars did report an inquiry from the military for spare parts a few years ago, but no actual order was forthcoming. It is believed that by 2010 the Aerostars were all inoperable because of lack of maintenance and spare parts.

Since the girls were kidnapped on April 14th over 500 more civilians have been killed in Boko Haram attacks. There have also been several hundred more police, army and Boko Haram dead but most of the casualties continue to be civilians. There have been nearly 2,000 Boko Haram related deaths so far this year.

Mainstream Islamic organizations worldwide have condemned Boko Haram for kidnapping the girls. This includes the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) which most Islamic nations belong to and has standing at the UN. Islamic radical groups like Boko Haram don’t pay much attention to OIC or other mainstream Moslem groups because these organizations are seen as corrupt and tools for the tyrants who rule most Islamic countries. In many cases these groups are just that.

June 3, 2014: In the capital the chief of police backtracked on comments he made the day before that implied that there would be a ban on demonstrations in the capital concerning the 219 kidnapped girls. Such demonstrations have been very embarrassing for the government, especially when they happen in the capital where many foreign journalists are stationed.

June 2, 2014: Cameroon reported that its troops had ambushed a large force of Boko Haram crossing the border from Nigeria (Borno state) and killed at least 60 of the intruders. Over the last year, and especially since the April kidnapping, Cameroon has sent more troops to the border and set up an informant network of villagers and nomads living in the far north of the country. The local civilians in this area don’t care for Boko Haram who sometimes cause problems (despite trying to behave well so as not to annoy the locals).

June 1, 2014: In the north (Borno state) about a dozen Boko Haram on motorbikes and in a car drove into a Christian village and attacked a church. Nine of the worshippers were killed. The Islamic terrorists fled and were pursued by local vigilantes, who killed four of the Boko Haram and captured three of them. Elsewhere in the north (Adamawa state) a Boko Haram bomb went off as a large crowd left a sporting event. This left 18 dead and 19 wounded. Boko Haram, like most Islamic terrorist groups, does not approve of video entertainment or organized sports. All are seen as sinful imports from the non-Moslem West.

May 30, 2014: In the north (Borno state) Boko Haram gunmen attacked three local tribal leaders, killing one of them. Most tribal and religious leaders in the north oppose Boko Haram and the Islamic terrorists seek to intimidate these critics into silence or a change of attitude with assassinations.

May 27, 2014: The government announced that it had undercounted the girls who had escaped from the Boko Haram after being kidnapped in April. Four more escaped girls were discovered as officials sought to contact all the families involved. Thus the latest count of missing girls is 219.

May 26, 2014: In the north (Yobe state) a large group of Boko Haram attacked a military base and killed 31 soldiers and police. The attack was repulsed and the Boko Haram retreated into the bush but not before burning down several buildings. 

May 22, 2014: The military revealed that it knew where the girls were being held but had not yet decided how to handle getting the girls back. A military operation risks hurting some of the girls while negotiating their release simply encourages more kidnappings. Many Nigerians are dubious that the military now knows where the girls are as officials refused to provide few details other than that the girls were in the far north and that the military had been closely tracking the movements of the kidnappers and their captives since late April. It is believed that all the foreign help (especially with surveillance aircraft) may well have uncovered something in the north.

In the north (Borno state) several dozen Boko Haram attacked three villages near the Cameroon border and killed at least 35 people. In the central Nigerian city of Jos three people died when a bomb went off in a crowd of people watching a football (soccer) game on TV.

The UN designated Boko Haram an international terrorist organization and imposed sanctions making it more difficult for known Boko Haram members to travel or raise funds internationally.

May 21, 2014: The United States has sent another 80 U.S. Air Force personnel to Chad will they will support increased UAV operations.

 

 

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