Our October briefing comes a week after an extraordinary announcement from the governments of Nigeria and Chad that a ceasefire agreement has been reached with Boko Haram. The deal is said to include a commitment from the insurgents to imminently return the Chibok girls.
However, the girls are yet to be released, and Boko Haram are reported to have carried out a series of attacks in north-east Nigeria in recent days, including an attack on the strategic town of Damboa in Borno state. There have also been reports of more girls being kidnapped.
Though the Chadian government has dismissed the attacks as the work of irreconcilable factions in Boko Haram, they do cast doubt on the ceasefire. The credibility of Boko Haram’s “representative” during the talks, Danladi Ahmadu, has also been questioned by sources familiar with the group’s leaders, most notably the journalist Ahmad Salkida.
We hope these doubts are put to rest and the ongoing negotiations bear fruit. The next few days will be a test of their credibility.
This month’s briefing includes an analysis of the ceasefire deal, a piece by Elizabeth Pearson examining the increasingly important role women are playing in Boko Haram, and an article by Ryan Cummings assessing the options for bringing back the Chibok girls.
I would also like to use this briefing as an opportunity to pay tribute to Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who recently stepped down as Minister of State for Defence. Senator Obanikoro’s willingness to embrace a holistic approach to tackling Boko Haram has set a strong example for the rest of the security establishment to follow. We wish him well for the future.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram ceasefire deal: too good to be true?
Andrew Noakes questions the credibility of the ceasefire deal reached with Boko Haram. He warns of the danger of political motivations becoming a driving force behind the approach to the insurgency, noting that both the APC and the PDP have been guilty of politicising the war. He calls on all parties to agree to keep politics out of the counter-insurgency campaign.
Nigeria’s female suicide bombers: a show of strength
Elizabeth Pearson argues that although the deployment of female suicide bombers by Boko Haram has not proved a long-term tactic thus far, women are playing an increasingly important role in the insurgency. They are particularly useful for helping the group to conduct its activities, such as smuggling weapons, in secret. The use of female suicide bombers has served an important propaganda purpose and initially helped to divert attention away from Boko Haram’s operations in the north-east.
Where are our girls?
In this piece by Ryan Cummings, he assesses the various options open to the Nigerian government to secure the release of the Chibok girls. He argues that a negotiated settlement is very possible, though the government must be careful not to give too much away. He questions whether a military operation to rescue the girls would be feasible, given the level of risk involved.
Key points from this briefing
- There are reasons to question the credibility of the ceasefire deal with Boko Haram, though we remain hopeful that negotiations will bear fruit.
- Politicisation of the insurgency is becoming a major hindrance to efforts to tackle it.
- The emergence of female suicide bombers shows Boko Haram’s ability to wage an effective propaganda campaign and divert attention away from its real goals.
- Women are playing an increasingly important role in Boko Haram in general.
- The government’s best option for securing the release of the Chibok girls is a negotiated settlement, though it must be careful not to give too much away.