John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Violence in Nigeria’s North Taking New Turns?

by John Campbell
June 18, 2012

Women cry during a mass funeral for the victims of Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic church, outside Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2012 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)


An apparently new jihadist group announced its establishment by video recently. Calling itself Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladi Sudan, it states as its goal to protect Muslims in Africa.

There is speculation that this new group may be a splinter of one of the apparently numerous groups that are collectively identified as Boko Haram. At this stage, it is unclear how large or influential this new group might be or whether it presages a violent struggle among erstwhile parts of Boko Haram.

Christian rhetoric, led by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), is also escalating. A CAN representative recently said that it is “ready to fight Boko Haram.” The press is reporting that “Christian groups” recently threatened to expel Muslim Fulanis from their neighborhoods. In another instance thirteen Fulanis were killed.

Meanwhile, the Borno Elders Forum June 14 called on President Goodluck Jonathan to greatly reduce the security presence in Maiduguri. At the same time, the Borno Elders appealed to Boko Haram to stop the fighting, which has “crippled all social and economic activities to the extent that people found it difficult to perform their five obligatory prayers in congregation.”

According to the press, the security services have been responsible for many deaths, and their seeming indiscriminate violence probably promotes popular support or acquiescence for Boko Haram. It is true that the majority of Boko Haram’s victims have been Muslims, though its claims of responsibility for attacks on Christians, highlighted by Sunday’s bombings in Kaduna and Zaria, are escalating. Under these circumstances, CAN’s rhetoric is understandable if unfortunate because it contributes to Nigerian religious polarization, especially in the North.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Chike Chukudebelu

    Western analysts are obsessed with questions about the nature of Boko Haram, its relationship with Al Qaeda etc. The intense debate among Western scholars has very little relevance to the internal debate within Nigeria.

    We are best advised to pay attention to the debate within Nigeria.

    On the one hand, some (mainly Northern) voices are convinced that Jonathan is behind Boko Haram and he orchestrates bombings to create confusion. On the other, many Christians are convinced that Boko Haram is either a tool in the hands of Northern politicians to destabilise the Jonathan administration or the culmination of a fifty year old Jihad against Christians.

    The categories made popular in the West in the wake of 9//11 are of little relevance to most Nigerians. Boko Haram exposes the fears, hatreds and suspicions that have lingered for so long among Nigeria’s extremely diverse population.

    That should keep us worried.

    We really need to reach out to both the Muslim and Christian communities and get them to calm down.

  • Posted by Zainab

    All analyses aside, where are all the suspects that have been apprehended in connection to Boko Haram so far? What has happened and is happening to would-be-bombers caught with explosive devices, Boko Haram top guns who have been arrested, people arrested with guns and sophisticated weaponry? Have they given any relevant information? Are they going to be tried? Have they been released? Have they escaped? Nobody knows…

  • Posted by garba ishaq

    The only way to settle this crises rest in the hand of our leaders & government. factually,they know all this people,they are not spirit,they live with us. pls why government can’t negotiate & settle all tis crises and STOP killing innocent ones. Finally,Boko Haram or Nigerdelta militants should not be blame whatsoever. I am of optimistic that if JONATHAN can emulate the former president YARADUA by granting the BOKO HARAM amnesty,GOD will surely intervene. MAY GOD HELP NIGERIA.

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