Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Boko Haram Insurgency and the Counter-Terrorism Policy in Nigeria

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Boko Haram Insurgency and the Counter-Terrorism Policy in Nigeria

Article excerpt


The Boko Haram fundamentalist Islamic group is the first insurgent organization in Nigeria to be classified as a terrorist organization by the United States of America and its allies. Since 2009 the violence the group has unleashed on the Nigerian State is unprecedented in the history of insurgency in the country. Several studies have intellectualized the origin, motive and other activities of this infamous rebellious group. To advance the discourse on Boko Haram, this study examines the measures the Nigerian government has taken so far to address the menace posed by the Boko Haram insurgents. Using library research and interview methods, the findings of the study indicate that first, that the path Government should not follow is using the same methods it used to combat the Niger Delta militants to address the Boko Haram insurgents. Second, that peace negotiation is most unlikely to succeed with insurgents like those of Boko Haram with vile ideologies, whose core demands undermine democracy and good governance. Rather, it is more likely to succeed with insurgent groups pursuing legitimate political or economic based grievances that are capable of deepening democracy and good governance, that is, if Government accepts their core demands. Third, that peace negotiation is most unlikely to succeed with Boko Haram insurgents, since they do not have the capacity to lead a provincial government, after disavowing terrorism. This study strongly recommends that to checkmate the threat posed by Boko Haram insurgents, Government should treat them like terrorists rather than freedom fighters.

Key words: Boko Haram; Insurgency; Freedom fighters; Counter-terrorism policy


Apart from the challenges of poverty, sectarian, economic and political crises, and Niger Delta Militancy, Nigeria is currently facing a deeper and profound challenge of terrorism, especially in the North-Eastern region of the country. In the past two years, we have witnessed the vulnerability of the Nigerian state to terror, criminality and instability. The list of these disheartening phenomena includes, but is not limited to the bombing of several Churches, Mosques, Police Stations, Schools and Prisons in Bauchi, Bomu, Yobe and Adamawa states. Other parts of the country were not spared, as the sect-bombing activities were witnessed in the Federal capital territory, Abuja, Plateau, Kaduna and Kano states. The bombing of the United Nations office in Abuja is perhaps what the insurgents used to gain global recognition; as they are now listed amongst terrorist organizations by the United States and its allies, (for more details see The Economist, September 3, 2011).

Available statistics on the number of deaths and property lost to Boko Haram insurgency between 2002 and 2013 to say the least is highly controversial. Our interviewee accounts claim that over 10,000 people (including women and children) have been killed and property worth over 100 million dollars have been destroyed during the period under discussion (culled from interview of victims of Boko Haram attacks in Abuja, North Central, North East and North West regions of the country). However, official reports put the death toll at 8,000 plus and property destroyed at 40 million dollars (culled from the interview of government officials in Abuja, Yobe, Kaduna, Plateau and Adamawa states).

Government's response to the vicious attacks of Boko Haram has been a diverse mix of hope and trepidation. Hope lies in the fact that a state of emergency has been declared in (Adamawa, Bomo and Yobe states) inhabited by the insurgent group. Apart from that each time the Police and other security organizations responsible for internal security seem to be overwhelmed by the insurgents, the army is usually brought in to force them to retreat. Trepidation arises from the ability of the insurgents to regroup and strike even with the imposed state of emergency. The country's vulnerability to incessant attacks from armed insurgents poses a great security challenge. …

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