John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 21-27

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 21 to June 27, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
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Boko Haram Factions and the Kidnapping of the Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
A woman takes part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, during a sit-in protest at the Unity fountain Abuja, May 12, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman takes part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, during a sit-in protest at the Unity fountain Abuja, May 12, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Jacob Zenn has published an important article that analyzes the various factions that comprise “Boko Haram,” their leadership and rivalries, and their links with other radical Islamist groups outside Nigeria. The article is dense and exhaustively documented. Here, I highlight certain of his points that I found especially relevant, given that the kidnapped Chibok school girls remain in captivity and a focus of intense domestic and international concern. Read more »

Negotiating the Freedom of the Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria is abuzz with speculation about government negotiations with Boko Haram over the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. According to the Nigerian media, former president Obasanjo has been speaking with personalities “close to” Boko Haram. Names of other possible official negotiators circulate. Speculation is that the parameters of a possible deal would be Boko Haram freeing some or all of the girls in return for the government releasing Boko Haram operatives and/or their wives and children who are currently extra-judicially detained without charge. Read more »

Boko Haram Kidnaps Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
A school girl walks past a burnt building in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, August 3, 2009. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuteres) A school girl walks past a burnt building in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, August 3, 2009. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuteres)

A Boko Haram warlord Abubakar Shekau, in his latest video reiterated his war on western education, as well as calling for antigovernment operations throughout Nigeria, with specific reference to Abuja, Lagos, and oil producing areas. Over the past month, there have been successful large-scale operations against the security services in Maiduguri (Giwa Barracks, March 14), in Abuja (an attack on the State Security Services’ headquarters, March 30) and the attack on the Abuja suburb bus station on April 14. At the same time, there are reports of numerous, smaller Boko Haram operations. Read more »

Weekly Map of Political and Ethnic Violence in Nigeria

by John Campbell
Bomb experts search for evidences in front of buses at a bomb blast scene at Nyanyan in Abuja April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Bomb experts search for evidences in front of buses at a bomb blast scene at Nyanyan in Abuja April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Holy Week in Nigeria is off to an ugly start. A bomb detonated during rush hour at a bus station in Abuja’s suburb Nyana on April 14, killed at least seventy-one people, destroyed at least sixteen “luxury buses” and twenty-four mini buses. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility, but it has the marks of a “Boko Haram” operation. Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Releases New Videos

by John Campbell
Pius Nna, the village head of Angwan Gata, walks through one of the rooms destroyed when gunmen attacked his village in Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Pius Nna, the village head of Angwan Gata, walks through one of the rooms destroyed when gunmen attacked his village in Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On March 14, fighting broke out in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, including at the Giwa Barracks –the military’s main headquarters in Borno. “Boko Haram” claims it secured the release of two thousand detainees during the siege on the barracks. Abubakar Shekau released two new videos to claim responsibility for the attack. Read more »

Nigeria: Election Season and the Multiple Conflict Arenas

by John Campbell
Lieutenant-General Azubike Ihejirika (L) presents a flag to the new chief of army staff, Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah, during a handing over ceremony at the Defence Ministry headquarters in Abuja, January 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Lieutenant-General Azubike Ihejirika (L) presents a flag to the new chief of army staff, Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah, during a handing over ceremony at the Defence Ministry headquarters in Abuja, January 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Because of an American pre-occupation with the threat of jihadist Islam in the Sahel, much U.S. attention is directed toward “Boko Haram” in northern Nigeria and whatever links it might have with other groups, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. As I blogged on February 6, there has in recent weeks been a dramatic upsurge in violence related to Boko Haram. However, there are also other nodes of violence that friends of Nigeria, and Nigerians, should watch. Read more »

Boko Haram Carnage in Rural Nigeria

by John Campbell
Residents watch as two men walk amidst rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri, September 19, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Residents watch as two men walk amidst rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri, September 19, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Premium Times, which is based in Abuja, is reporting that Boko Haram has killed at least 250 people in Borno state (northeast Nigeria) over the past two weeks. This figure is exceptionally high. But, the carnage is not over, nor is it limited to Borno. Leadership reported on February 5 that an additional seventy-one people had been killed in Plateau, Kaduna, Yobe, and Katsina states. Read more »

Boko Haram Pivots Toward Rural Areas in Nigeria

by John Campbell
Soldiers walk through Hausari village during a military patrol near Maiduguri June 5, 2013. Burnt out vehicles and scattered rubbish is all that's left of a militant camp near Maiduguri, northern Nigeria. (Joe Brock/Reuters Staff) Soldiers walk through Hausari village during a military patrol near Maiduguri June 5, 2013. Burnt out vehicles and scattered rubbish is all that's left of a militant camp near Maiduguri, northern Nigeria. (Joe Brock/Reuters Staff)

The jihadist insurgency called Boko Haram appears to have reduced its operations in urban areas. This follows the massive deployment of security forces in northeastern Nigeria in line with the Abuja government’s June proclamation of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. According to the media, life has almost returned to normal in some parts of Maiduguri. However, the Nigerian security services claimed in October that they thwarted a possible terrorist attack in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city. Read more »

The United States Designates Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

by John Campbell
A woman sits amongst the burnt ruins of the Bama Market, which was destroyed by gunmen in last Thursday's attack, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria April 29, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman sits amongst the burnt ruins of the Bama Market, which was destroyed by gunmen in last Thursday's attack, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria April 29, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On November 13, the White House announced that the United States had formally designated Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorists. This comes after a heated debate within the Obama administration and among Nigeria watchers that began in earnest after the 2011 suicide bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja, for which Boko Haram claimed credit. Read more »