President Goodluck Jonathan does now admit that he underestimated Boko Haram and implied that there will be nothing but successful actions against the Islamic terrorists between now and election day (March 28). Boko Haram has announced their intention to disrupt the elections, at least in the three northeastern states where they have thousands of gunmen. All Boko Haram has to do is inflict some major defeats that the government and army cannot hide to wreck Jonathan’s plan. This looks to be a particularly grim form of March Madness.
Delaying the elections for six weeks is seen by many Nigerians as a cynical ploy by corrupt politicians to give themselves time to do something impressive against Boko Haram and garner enough support to win. The incumbents are also desperate to prevent too many reform-minded candidates from getting elected (despite all the corrupt practices used to rig elections). In short, Boko Haram is not the only revolutionary movement Nigeria’s corrupt leaders have to worry about but the Islamic terrorists get the most headlines and the most attention from the voters. It’s not just corrupt politicians who fear the elections, the many corrupt army officers (especially the generals and colonels) know they have a month to change their image as incompetent and brutal thieves in uniform. Current operations against Boko Haram have noticeably fewer incidents of abuse (killing or wounding innocent civilians and looting). The Americans are not impressed and still refuse to supply Nigeria with weapons (that would later be identified as American when sold by corrupt officers or used to commit atrocities by soldiers). This is a painful truth that the government would rather not discuss openly. In contrast the United States is supplying neighboring Cameroon with weapons and other military equipment, in recognition that the Cameroon military is much less corrupt and noticeably more effective than their Nigerian counterparts. This rankles in Nigeria but the subject is not brought up openly because recent events have shown the American assessment to be accurate.
February 22, 2015: In the northeast (Yobe State) an eight year old girl wearing an explosive vest, exploded in a market place killing seven and wounding 42. Boko Haram was believed responsible and probably used a wireless device to detonate the explosives the girl was wearing.
February 21, 2015: The army says it has recaptured Baga (on Lake Chad in northeastern Borno state). This town was taken by Boko Haram in early January and the Boko Haram men emptied the town out by continuing to loot the place and rape any women they find until no one or nothing was left. Civilians who were captured were used as slaves to bury the dead and gather loot. When the troops stormed into Baga most Boko Haram panicked and fled leaving behind much of their loot as well as many weapons and much ammo. Apparently many fleeing Islamic terrorists drowned or were shot by soldiers when they tried to swim away in Lake Chad. It appears that Boko Haram had lax security, were taken by surprise and demoralized by the intensity of the army attack. The Islamic terrorists had planted over a thousand landmines around Baga but the army had removed enough of these to get the troops through without alerting the enemy.
February 20, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram gunmen in boats attacked a small island on the Niger side of the border but were repulsed. Several of the attackers were killed and the rest fled into the darkness.
February 19, 2015: In the north (Kano state) troops expelled Boko Haram from the town of Aza which the Islamic terrorists had invaded on the 16th. At least eleven Boko Haram men were killed in the action. Further east, across the border in Cameroon soldiers killed eight Boko Haram men who had stolen cattle from locals and were caught before they could get the animals across the border into Nigeria.
In the northeast (Yobe State) the army revealed that Boko Haram had released 158 women and children they had kidnapped. This news was kept quiet for three weeks so the adults could be questioned to ensure that none were actually Boko Haram members. The security forces have found more and more Boko Haram hiding out in refugee camps and organizing terror camps from within those camps.
February 18, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) the army claims to have killed over 300 Boko Haram in the past week as troops advanced into the northern part of the state to the Cameroon border and Lake Chad and drove the Islamic terrorists out of eleven towns and villages. The troops captured large quantities of weapons and equipment, including over 300 motorbikes, which Boko Haram prefers when making surprise attacks or raids. Dozens of cars and trucks were also taken. Troops also recovered five army armored vehicles Boko Haram had captured as well as other heavy weapons. Meanwhile the air force bombed Boko Haram camps, especially those found (via aerial reconnaissance by Nigerian and American aircraft and UAVs) in the Sambisa Forest. This is a large (60,000 square kilometers), hilly, sparsely populated area where the borders of Borno, Yobe and Adamwa states meet. It has long been a hideout for Boko Haram. The army did not reveal if they had sent troops into the Sambisa to examine the bombed camps and count the dead and recover documents.
February 17, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) a Boko Haram suicide bus bomb killed 37 and wounded 23 at an army checkpoint. Many of the victims were in the bus, apparently these were Boko Haram who were to get out of the bus before it exploded and open fire on survivors of the bomb. Soldiers figured this out and opened fire on the bus as it approached.
In Niger a military aircraft dropped a bomb on a large funeral gathering killing 37 people and wounding twenty. It was unclear if the aircraft was from Nigeria or Niger. The bombing occurred just across the border from Nigeria. The aircraft was generally believed to be from Nigeria but the Nigerian Air Force denied any of its jets were operating in that area at the time. Meanwhile Niger is holding 160 suspected members of Boko Haram. Over 100,000 Nigerians have fled to Niger in the last six months and it was found that some of these refugees were actually Boko Haram members or supporters.
February 16, 2015: In the northeast, just across the border Cameroonian soldiers killed 86 Boko Haram while losing five of their own. At the same time Cameroon police and soldiers arrested nearly a thousand people on suspicion of being Boko Haram members or supporters. Most of these were later freed but many were found to be involved with the Nigerian Islamic terrorists.
Members of ECCAS (Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe) net in Cameroon and pledged $86 million and troops to contain and destroy Boko Haram. Nigeria is not a member of ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) but is grateful for the assistance.
February 14, 2015: In the northeast (Gombe state) over fifty Boko Haram attacked the state capital but were halted three kilometers outside the city and forced to retreat. The Islamic terrorists took their dead with them. Soldiers believe they killed or wounded about half the attackers.
February 13, 2015: For the first time Boko Haram made an attack into neighboring Chad. Several dozen Boko Haram gunmen crossed Lake Chad in boats at night and attacked a village where over a thousand Nigerians had taken refuge. The attackers were repulsed with at least two dead while the village chief and one soldier were killed. Some of the Boko Haram boats were sunk and the hunt continues for the remaining attackers. The fighting did set fire to many buildings in the village.
February 12, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked some villages outside Maiduguri leaving at least 21 dead. Elsewhere in Borno (Biu) a female wearing an explosive vest killed eleven in a crowded market place.
February 9, 2015: Boko Haram raided into neighboring Niger (where five people were killed) and Cameroon (where 18 people on a bus were kidnapped). In both countries troops went after the attackers, killing over ten of them within two days.