Nigeria: President Insists, Again, that Boko Haram ‘Is Defeated’

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of one of two Boko Haram factions, from a video published on November 9, 2018
Boko Haram video

The Nigerian government insisted on Tuesday the homegrown jihadi group Boko Haram “is defeated” even as the organization continued a killing spree in its birthplace of Borno state that same day.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has falsely claimed victory over Boko Haram several times since taking office in 2015.

Several news outlets in Nigeria quoted Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Buhari, as saying on Tuesday:

The position of the Nigerian government is that the Boko Haram terrorism has been degraded and defeated. The real Boko Haram we know is defeated.

What we have now is a mixture of remnants of the Boko Haram, fugitive criminals…[and jihadis in Northern Africa’s Maghreb reigon] together with West African terrorists bonding together. This is a fall out of the collapse of the Libyan State, and from farther away, of the Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL] in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. They are taking advantage of our porous Sahelian borders.

On the same day that the Buhari administration claimed to have conquered Boko Haram, the terrorist group carried out a deadly attack in Borno, the Daily Trust reported.

Tuesday’s attack came about three days after Boko Haram killed up to 70 people who attended a funeral in Borno on Saturday.

Premium Times added:

The terror group has also killed scores of soldiers and civilians in the past few months in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. Apart from the killings, the terror group has also kidnapped many aid workers and other civilians. Six of such aid workers kidnapped earlier in July are still with the terror group.

Buhari’s spokesman claimed victory over Boko Haram a few days after the group’s ghastly insurgency marked its tenth anniversary last Friday.

Since 2009, the deadly Boko Haram insurgency has swept across Nigeria, leaving a trail of death and devastation in its wake. Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram has killed more than 35,500 people and displaced two million others, according to a tally by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Under Buhari, more than 23,000 people have died at the hands of Boko Haram, other sectarian groups, and the Nigerian government.

In May of this year, Nigeria inaugurated Buhari for his second term.

Premium Times notes that Shehu’s remarks on Tuesday are part of the Buhari administration’s review of the group’s decade-long insurgency.

Shehu asserted that Buhari has made Nigeria safer, noting:

At the moment, the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari has made the country safer than it met it. In 2015 when he took power, Boko Haram terrorism was active in nearly half the number of states in the country. …At present, terrorist activities have been confined to the remote, rural agrarian areas of Borno State and pockets of outrages in Adamawa, and Yobe States.

In its latest assessment of terrorism across the globe, the U.S. government has deemed Boko Haram to be among the world’s top five deadliest terrorist groups.

The Buhari administration now attributes Nigeria’s insecurity to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram offshoot.

In 2016, ISWAP allegedly broke its ties to Boko Haram, but it appears both groups still consist of some of the same fighters.

Shehu conceded that the size of Nigeria allows for “a lot of ungoverned areas [that] provide [a] haven for terrorists’ occupation and training.”

Nevertheless, Shehu proclaimed:

The Buhari administration is strongly encouraged by successes recorded so far by our armed forces and the [U.S.-supported] MNJTF [Multinational Joint Task Force], and is optimistic that in the same way as our military defeated the Boko Haram, so would the [ISWAP] terrorism be defeated.

Lt. General Tukur Buratai, the chief of the Nigerian army, recently suggested playing more golf as a form of military training. He claimed that more golf hours would help the armed forces tackle insecurity.

Many Nigerians have criticized Buhari for repeatedly claiming victory over Boko Haram.

An opposition leader indicated that Buhari’s “denial of the continued threats of the Boko Haram insurgency has made the demand for mental test for all presidential candidates imperative,” according to Vanguard.

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