Conflicting figures have been reported as to the actual number of those killed by the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram since 2009 when the terrorists launched a large scale attacks at the Nigerian state.
Some media organizations and Amnesty international had put the number of those killed between 2000 and 3000 respectively, but Nigeria’s Chief Security Officer has said over 12,000 lives have been killed so far.
The number of casualties was made public at the Regional Summit on Security in Paris, France by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan who said so far over 12,000 innocent Nigerians, maimed over 8,000 and displaced many others.
The president said the attacks had now developed into a full-scale war targeting the stability and integrity of Nigeria.
“Boko Haram has launched a vicious guerrilla-style campaign against the government and the people of Nigeria. It has attacked schools, slaughtered students in their dormitories, destroyed villages, communities and government infrastructure and has wreaked havoc on the economic and social life of our people. This unconventional war has so far claimed over 12,000 lives, with more than 8, 000 persons injured or maimed, not to mention the displacement of thousands of innocent Nigerians”, he said.
He said his government had developed intelligence which, according to him, indicates clearly that global terrorist networks are deeply involved in the recent activities of Boko Haram “which has now turned into an integral part of the Al Qaeda network as the West African Branch.
“More tellingly, the group runs an international network of training and incubation centres in such places as Gao and Kidal areas of Mali, the Diffa, Maradi and Maina Soro areas of Niger Republic, Maroua and Garoua areas of Republic of Cameroun, the Zango and Ridina quarters in Ndjamena, Chad, the Ranky-Kotsy area of Sudan, and also some cells in the Central African Republic”.
He told the summit that the government felt compelled to declare a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States to give the security forces the required scope and authority as well as to enable them operate more efficiently in the affected areas “in order to gain victory.
“They were directed to adhere strictly to clearly spelt out rules of engagement and avoid any excesses that may amount to a violation of human rights. Careful regard for human rights has always been central to our counter-terrorism strategies, resulting in the adoption of rules and procedures to protect the civilian population from excessive collateral damage”.
“In addition to military operation, our administration has adopted what we’ve termed a soft approach to combating the insurgency. This includes short, medium and long-term measures to mitigate the impact on the people and the entire country. Our focus along this line has been mainly in form of the introduction of a robust educational programme in the Northern states, to reduce the number of out-of-school children and empower the youths.
“We’ve launched economic recovery programmes to create jobs, while also providing infrastructure, which unfortunately is heavily threatened by the terror attacks. Other measures include the introduction of de-radicalization programmes for convicted terrorists and suspects awaiting trial, and the promotion of opportunities for dialogue and collaboration with critical stakeholders from the region”.
The insurgents have in recent months attacked Nigeria’s Capital twice, killing hundreds and injuring many others, one of the groups gruesome attacks that has elicited widespread condemnation has been the abduction of over 200 female school girls.