In this month’s briefing NSN member Andrew Walker takes us back to the Maitatsine uprising in 1984, recalling how the then military head of state, General Buhari, flew to Yola to personally oversee the destruction of a neighbourhood in which Islamist militants had found refuge.
The story is especially pertinent in light of the three month deadline the president recently gave to the Nigerian military to defeat Boko Haram. NSN member John Campbell argues in this month’s briefing that this has led the military to seek quick and decisive military solutions to the insurgency.
The new government set a clear agenda early on to tackle the underlying causes of Boko Haram, warning this may take years. This agenda must continue to be central to the government’s strategy if it is to prevail, and any use of military force must emphasise civilian protection and respect for human rights if it is to avoid becoming counter-productive in the long-term.
Buhari and Boko Haram: A return to brutality?
Andrew Walker reminds us of President Buhari’s previous attempt to tackle an Islamist insurgency in Nigeria, resulting in the near-destruction of a neighbourhood of Yola. He warns that with the Nigerian military’s track record of human rights violations, conclusions that we have entered a new period of protecting and respecting the population may be premature.
Claims of military success against Boko Haram
John Campbell reports on recent claims by the Nigerian army of major successes against Boko Haram, including capturing hundreds of militants. He suggests it is difficult to verify these claims, but notes Boko Haram seem to be diversifying their tactics and expanding their geographic reach even as the army reportedly enjoys success against them.
Why would a Boko Haram faction want to negotiate?
Ryan Cummings explores the different theories on Boko Haram’s factionalism and the various motivations they may have for wanting to negotiate with the government. He concludes that the group may want to negotiate, but that misinformation may also be to blame.
Is Boko Haram spreading to Lagos?
Ryan Cummings notes recent reports that Boko Haram has spread to Lagos, and reminds us that militants have in fact operated there before. He argues that Lagos is a high value target for Boko Haram. But he concludes that Boko Haram will struggle to gain a permanent or substantial foothold in Lagos because the group would not command significant grassroots support there.
Key points from this briefing
- Pressure on the military to produce a quick victory against Boko Haram may encourage a return to short-termism and military-only strategies
- It is vital to the success of Nigeria’s counter-terrorism strategy that it focuses on the long-term drivers of terrorism and ensures protection for human rights during military operations
- Boko Haram appears to have different factions, some of which may be inclined to negotiate with the government, but there is a great deal of misinformation on this issue
- Boko Haram does operate in Lagos but is unlikely to develop a permanent or substantial foothold there because of its limitations in attracting support