By Tahir Sherrif
With each passing day, the activities of insurgents in the north-east region has continued to expand dangerously. The theme which surrounded all dialogue regarding Boko Haram as a round up of angry and inexperienced youths fighting under misguided religious notions has been slowly and surely discarded.
Munched clip of a recent take over of Gamboru, by Abubakar Shekau led terror group where Nigeria soldiers where chased to Cameroon.
Attacks in the nation’s capital and increased activities since July 2014 have pushed the conflicts into dangerously new phases.
Nigeria Security Network (NSN) think-tank said the group had made “lightning territorial gains”. Boko Haram now pose a greater threat to Nigeria than at any point in the history of the conflict. In Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states the insurgents are now aggressively challenging the Nigerian military through direct confrontation in open and sustained battle.They are reported to be using armoured vehicles, including tanks, and heavy weapons as well as planning small attacks for psychological effects. In other parts of the north-east, the group has reached a classically advanced stage of insurgency, in which they are beginning to recruit, train, plan activites, and operate in full force like a conventional army.
Nigerian refugees flee Bama for Maiduguri
This marks a major change from how the insurgency operated before July, when it focused on carrying out short-lived hit-and-run assaults and attacking undefended communities. It is also different from how the insurgency operates elsewhere in Nigeria. For the first time in its history, Boko Haram is seizing and holding onto territory outside of its hideouts in Sambisa and the Mandara Mountains. In recent days and weeks, the insurgents have seized a string of villages and towns, primarily in Borno but also in Yobe and Adamawa.
Munched clip of the video released by Boko Haram showing the abducted Chibok girls being held in Sambisa Forests, by the terrorists.
Seized settlements in Borno are believed to include Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa, Gwoza, and Marte. Bama is also reported to have been captured but the Nigerian military is contesting these reports. Damboa was seized in July but is since reported to have been re-taken. Well put together, these informations suggest that Nigeria is on the verge of losing control of Borno state, including the state capital Maiduguri where two main approaches to the city has been occupied. The seizure of Dikwa and Bama could indicate a two-pronged assault from the north-east and the south-east. Attacks from elsewhere also cannot be ruled out. If Maiduguri falls, it will be a symbolic and strategic victory unparalleled so far in the conflict.
In Adamawa, Madagali has been captured. In Yobe, Buni Yadi has been taken.Other communities in the north-east that are believed to have been seized or heavily contested include Banki, Kerawa, Ashigashiya, Ngoshe, Pulka, and Goniri. Boko Haram have hoisted flags over many of the communities they have overrun, and are reported to be imposing their interpretation of sharia law on the population. Nigerians in these regions have migrated en-masse and those who cannot leave have lived in the most unbelievable conditions.
As disturbing as these reports are, cases of extra-judicial killings have still remained unaddressed, and the internal workings of the Nigerian army personnel indicate a low morale and this isn’t very suprising. One often dreams of fighting for his country, but not standing in the heat of Maiduguri’s sun watching war tanks and APCs speeding towards you, filled with fanatics screaming Allahu Akbar, not especially when you have only sixty bullets in your AK 47 held together with a masking tape. Feelings like this demystify why there are numerous reports of soldiers refusing to counter-attack, fleeing from combat, and even deserting the army.
If the Nigerian government does not alter its strategy, if it does not intensify its effort through use of air power and collaboration with assisting countries, if it consistently fails to deliver on its promises for increased and sophisticated military gear, and most importantly if the requirements for intelligence gathering and information exchange isn’t met, then IDPs, body counts and the loss of states in the northern region may simply mark the beginning of what yet lies ahead. Unless swift action is taking, Nigeria could be facing a rapid takeover of more area in its territory reminiscent of ISIS’s lightning advances in Iraq.