1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
‘Boko Haram’ is an extremist Nigerian Islamist militant sect that was formed in Maiduguri in 2002 by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf. The sect seeks the imposition of a srict Sharia Islamic Law throughout Nigeria and as its name, Boko Haram (literally translated as “Western education is a sacrilege/sin) denotes, the group believes that Nigeria should relinquish Western-style education. The sect became militarily active around 2003 and since then has carried out a series of attacks against the Nigerian government, Christian targets, including targeted killing of worshipers and bombings of churches, and moderate Islamist groups. Since 2008, the Nigerian government has tracked down on Boko Haram activity, this culminated in a five-day uprising in July 2009 which left hundreds of people, including Mohammed Yusuf, dead.
However, despite heightened security efforts, the group has managed to continue with its attacks. Since its inception, Boko Haram’s primary areas of focus have been in the northern states of Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna, although, recent trends suggest the sects activities are moving south wards, with attacks being recorded in the Plateau state and Abuja.
Book Hara is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan; one of the groups’ primary base in Kanama in Yobe state was named Afghanistan before its destruction. The group has also issued statements expressing solidarity with al-Qaeda and has threatened the United States. Although, a direct connection between ‘Boko Haram’ and the Taiban or al-Qaeda is not discernable, like its extremist counterparts, ‘Boko Haram’s ideology is based on hostility towards democracy and western anti-Islamic education. Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the country has a population that is split roughly in half between a Muslim and Christian South. Book Haram has repeatedly stated that it seeks the imposition of a strict Sharia law system throughout Nigeria; currently, nine northern states adhere to Sharia law, with an additional three only marginally implementing it. According to various statements, ‘Boko Haram’ also seeks the abolishment of western-style education, which it states is contrary to the teachings of Islam.
STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION
Not much is know about the organizational structure of ‘Boko Haram’. The groups’ founder and former leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was thought to have been highly educated and wealthy. Although, Mohammed Yusuf was killed by security forces in 2009, his deputy, Abubakar Shebu, who was initially thought to also have been killed, appeared on a video in 2010 and claimed leadership of the group. Shebu further more, threatened fresh attacks against the western influenced Nigeria government.
‘Boko Haram’ members generally do not mix with other Islamist groups in Nigeria, even praying in separate mosques in the larger northern cities of Maiduguri, Kano and Sokoto. Its lack of education and a high unemployment rate in northern Nigeria has given the group a seemingly bottomless reservoir from which to draw disgruntled youth recruits and Nigeria’s State Security Service estimates that Boko Haram has over 540,000 members. The sources are from Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Abuja but especially in Madiduguri. (vanguard newspaper 23rd may 2011)
OPERATIONS AND TACTICS
During the leadership of Mohammed Yusuf, ‘Boko Haram’ carried out a number of low level attacks against security installations and Christian churches in northern Nigeria. However, the arrest of some of its members by security forces in July 2009 spurred ‘Boko Haram’ into a general uprising killings started in Bauchi, but soon spread to Maiduguri and smaller cities across Northern Nigeria. Maiduguri was mainly affected with over 700 deaths recorded. Following five days of violence, security forces stormed and destroyed ‘Boko Haram’s’ primary mosque in Maiduguri and captured Mohammed Yusuf. He was subsequently shot and killed under suspicious circumstances by security forces. Following Mohammed Yusuf’s death and a significant military deployment in Maiduguri and several other areas across northern Nigeria, ‘Boko Haram’ activity all but ceased in northern Nigeria.
However, in mid-2010, ‘Boko Haram’ activity resumed in the region with the sect claiming responsibility for a spate of targeted killings in Maiduguri. Several police officers, Christians and moderate Muslims were killed in drive-by motorcycle shootings. Furthermore, in September 200, ‘Boko Haram’ staged an attack on a federal prison in Buachi, freeing approximately 700 prisoners, of which an estimated 150 were sect’s former members. The attacks came just mounts after the sect’s former deputy, Shebu, claimed leadership of ‘Boko Haram’ and threatened renewed attacks.
With the majority of its efforts concentrated in northern Nigeria, ‘Boko Haram’ sharply sharply deviated from previous tactics by claiming responsibility for a series of bombings in Jos, capital of the Central Plateau State, on 24 December, 2010, which left at least 80 people’s dead; the attacks were claimed by a group called jama’atu ahlus Sunnah lid da’awati wal jihad, a name ‘Boko Haram’ has in the past stated it wanted to be known by. The attacks coincided with ‘Boko Haram’ led attacks on Christian churches in Maiduguri on the same day. The high degree of operational organizational ability with which the attacks were carried out highlights the growing threat that ‘Boko Harma’ posses to the stability of Nigeria and ushered in a new era of the sect’s activity. The sources are from Sokoto, kano and Abuja where we a bomb blast that killed many people’s.
Furthermore, although, unconfirmed, it is believed ‘Boko Haram’ was also responsible for the deaths of scores of people when the mammy market, near the Sani Abacha barracks in Abuja, was bombed on 31 December, 2010. (Vanguard Newspaper 1st December 2011).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
Identified problem common to the boko haram
Jos-Civil Right Congress of Nigeria, CRCN, ahs advised the Federal Government to constitute a presidential contact committee to meet the members of the ‘Boko Haram’ sect as a way out of the current insurgent. The group in a statement on Sunday by its president, Mallam Shebu Sani, said the committee should be headed by “a respected and politically neutral elder statesmen”.
It identified 21 issues which it claimed gave rise to the ‘Boko Haram problem to include the extra-judicial killing of leader of the sect, Mohammed Usuf and the repressive acts against the members in 2009. Other reasons it said included “the inspiration from the success of the armed struggle in the Niger Delta, government’s policy on appeasing militancy, abject poverty and high rate of unemployment in the northern states as well as disconnect between elected and appointed leaders and people. The scene of the new attack is Maiduguri; Borno State.
The group also identified “exclusion of member of the ‘Boko Haram’ sect by mainstream Islamic groups, proliferation of arms in the north east, Chadian Civil War and illegal immigration, absence of data and intelligence about individuals and organizational links with foreign groups, lack of true federalism, resistance of the political establishment to a national conference, the collapse of public schools and Federal Governments increasing reliance on foreign security agencies”. The statement added “Massive economic aid and investment in particularly the north-eastern states, mainstreaming all religious sects and groups in boarder religious bodies. The sources are from Sokoto, kano and Abuja where we a bomb blast that killed many people’s. (Ibid, 2011).
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objective of the study is to help the general public and Muslim youth leathers provide accurate answers to commonly asked or expected questions about the ‘Boko Haram’ crisis and tragedy. It help the Muslim community leaders with qualitative responses to the augments presented by the ‘Boko Haram’ group to defend their ideology and perspectives.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Despite significant security crackdown, Boko Haram managed to re-emerge as a severe threat. Accordingly, as opposed to weakening the organization, Mohammed Yusuf’s death seemingly inaugurated a new age of ‘Boko Haram’ activity. Shebu, as the sect’s new leader, has added a new level of sophistication to ‘Boko Haram’, which had up until the death of Mohammed Yusuf mainly been concentrated on small-scale bombings, shootings and kidnappings. Nigeria is a highly fractured society which is split along ethnic, religious and socio-economic lines. As ‘Boko Haram’ draws the majority of its supports from dissatisfied youth, unless the Nigeria government addresses some of its pressing socio-economic needs, the group will undoubtedly continue to pose a threat and further attacks against government installations, Christian targets and moderate Muslims will in all likelihood continue.
There have been suspicious that the resurgent ‘Boko Haram’ attacks are connected to the last Election on April 2011 general elections; violence is a usually accompaniment to Nigeria elections and as last elections have already proven to be contentious, an increase in ‘Boko Haram’ activity during this period is possible. Maiduguri, Kano and Sokoko and states that benefits from this research work in this last 2011 general election. (Austin, Peter K. 2010).
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY.