Boko Haram’s Takeover Of Niger Communities

 ONE of the major reasons the second term ambition of former President Goodluck Jonathan was curtailed via the ballot box was his administration’s inability to rein in the frightening and flagitious activities of Boko Haram terrorists. In particular, due to the erstwhile administration’s inability to deter the terrorists, they invaded, captured, and engaged in unconstitutional local administration of the occupied territories in the North-East. The country was therefore expected to have some respite after President Muhammadu Buhari came on board. However, that hasn’t been the case, as the country’s security crisis has worsened considerably.  The country is experiencing unfettered blossoming of  violent non-state actors who are administering territories within the supposedly sovereign state of Nigeria.

Indeed, although the current administration prided itself on the ouster of Boko Haram ‘governance’ within Nigerian territory, the country has witnessed rapid expansion by the terrorists of occupied territories outside the North-East.  Niger State in the North-Central geopolitical zone is literally under the siege of the terrorists who are reportedly running the affairs of many communities in some local government areas of the state.  Some local government councils are said to be  virtually under the control of the terrorists who have allegedly harnessed, and are making laws in, the territories they occupy. The chairman of a local government in Niger State says 150 communities in his domain have been taken over by Boko Haram! Among other obnoxious laws, Boko Haram has reportedly fixed the marriage age for girls at 12 in Niger State, an indication that the terrorists are fast settling in and becoming entrenched in the state.

The hoisting of Boko Haram’s flag in Niger State should worry the Federal Government not just because it is an  ominous sign that terrorism is spreading down South but also because of the proximity of the state to the seat of government in Abuja. The reality today is that the terrorists who had  hitherto limited their atrocities  to the North-East  and hitting of  soft targets, abducting innocent citizens and  stealing food before disappearing into the thin air in the North-Central,  have now become so emboldened that they are taking  land and forming ‘government’ in that geopolitical zone. This saddening development pointedly suggests that far from the official claim of being technically defeated, Boko Haram is actually burgeoning and festering both in terms of its military and political influence in the country. And that is really worrying.

There are even concerning indications that the hearsay may be true that the  ubiquitous  bandits in the country  are the economic wing of Boko Haram terrorists designed to diversify the sources of funding for its ignoble operations and expand and deepen its influence in the country. Perhaps it  is not sheer coincidence that the terrorists are having some respite, settling down to civil governance in the territories they occupy even  as security of life and property worsens in the country.  Truth be told, quite a significant amount of national resources has been deployed to fight terrorism in the land, but the outcome has been largely lacklustre. And that in itself ought to have recommended a change in scheme and the plan of actions by the war managers. In order to get a different and more inspiring  result from their war efforts, the security agencies must necessarily tweak their strategy to become more result-oriented and potent at fighting insurgency.

And in addition to accentuating  the kinetic warfare, some non-kinetic issues like the warm reception some of the locals are allegedly according the terrorists should be addressed. The locals may be receptive and accommodating to the insurgents not necessarily because they are conniving with the outlaws or disloyal to the constituted authorities but perhaps because they find some appeal in the policies of the invaders. For instance, it would  not be surprising to see some male perverts in Niger State readily keying in and  aligning  with the  new government that recently  fixed the marriage age of girls at 12. In any case, when some supposedly educated, enlightened and well-placed citizens in the society are known to be actively contributing to robbing girls of their childhood by shamelessly subscribing to and even engaging in marrying under-aged girls, what should anyone expect from the illiterate and conservative elements?

The point being made is that a lot of reorientation is needed to change the attitude of many towards their fixation about certain questionable religious and sociocultural customs and traditions that have the potential to facilitate the spread of insurgency and acceptance of terrorists by the locals. In other words, the deconstruction of religious and obnoxious cultural practices that tend to accommodate insurgency and other conservative and anti-social inclinations will have to be fast-tracked by putting them in intense advocacy in order to win the war against terrorism. The alleged repression and abridgment of citizens’ rights  in Afghanistan and other ultra-conservative Islamic states succinctly answer the question as to what is the fate of the girl-child and indeed of all hapless Nigerians with Boko Haram in control in parts of Niger State. Niger State, which is arguably the largest state in the country by land mass, must not be allowed to become an enduring haven for  terrorists, otherwise, a wholesale export of terrorism to Abuja and southern Nigeria is a veritable danger.

The Federal Government  needs to act swiftly to dislodge the terrorists from Niger State and restore legitimate governance in the occupied territories.


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