NORTHERN NIGERIA INTERNAL SECURITY SITREP- Week Ending 22 February 2014

Situation Friendly Forces:

17 February:

  • Governor Kashim SHETTIMA of BORNO State appealed for more troops and equipment to be deployed to the state in ABUJA after talks with President of the Federal Republic of NIGERIA, stating that soldiers were under equipped and that ‘Boko Haram were better armed and motivated than soldiers’ blaming poor leadership.
  • Nigerian security forces state they have increased air and ground patrols in the areas affected by Boko Haram.
  • More troops and aircraft have been deployed to KONDUGA to carry out a cordon and search operation in order to find the abducted school girls
  • The coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister for Finance Dr Ngozi OKONJO-IWEALA has stated that all the funds allocated to the counter terror effort in the budget were released by her Ministry in a timely manner and that they had paid 15% over and above the contingency vote in the 2013 budget and all payments were at least 6 months in advance

18 February:

  • The heads of the Army and Air Force Lt General Kenneth MINIMAH and Air Marshal Adekunle AMOSU began a  3 day tour of the 7 Division AOR
  • Major General Obi UMAHI out going GOC of 81 Division stated during his hand over ceremony in LAGOS that 54 Boko Haram suspects had been detained in the past 22 months whilst he had been in command, 14 explosive devices, an unknown number of AK47s and unspecified quantities and types of ammunition. Of the 54 detained 12 were released after screening anf the remaining 42 are awaiting trial.
  • Doyin OKUPE Presidential Special Advisor stated ‘…authoritatively without any fear or equivocation whatsoever that Nigeria is already winning the war against terror and the activities of the insurgents will be terminated within the shortest possible time’ at a press conference in ABUJA. He did not elaborate on details of Nigeria’s winning streak but stated that Nigeria was constrained by international conventions preventing troops from chasing insurgents into neighbouring countries as well as Boko Harams intermingling with civilians made targeting difficult

19 February: troops tasked with clearing insurgents from the SAMBISA Forest have been involved in a fatal road traffic accident along the MADAGALI Road at a bridge at WURO GAYANDI near MICHIKA Town. Details of the dead and injured are yet to be revealed

20 February: The heads of the Army and Air Force Lt General Kenneth MINIMAH and Air Marshal Adekunle AMOSU completed their 3 day tour of the 7 Division AOR. The Chief of Army Staff encouraged the troops to remain dedicated and remember the rules of engagement

22 February: Commander 23 Armoured Brigade, Brigadier General Rogers NICHOLAS stated that Nigerian security forces had closed the border with CAMEROUN from ADAMAWA State. He did not specify how.

Situation Enemy Forces:

18 February:

  • Gunmen attacked the home of Major General Tukur BURATAI (Commander Niger Delta JTF), in BURATAI District, BIU LGA, BORNO State at 7.00pm with automatic weapons, IEDs and RPGs killing 1 soldier and injuring several others
  • Approximately 200 gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen/ bandits attacked ANGYOM, TSE-USENDA and TSE-TORKULA, GUMA LGA, BENUE State killing 7 people and burning down over 100 houses, 40 people are still missing
  • Gunmen attacked GALGA GABUN, GAANDA District, GOMBI LGA, ADAMAWA State killing 11 people. Local residents report that there is a lack of security presence in the mountainous area and they are regularly visited by gunmen demanding money
  • 7 traders were killed by unknown gunmen whilst returning from market in GERO Village, JOS SOUTH LGA, PLATEAU State

19 February:

  • Insurgents mounted in several vehicles attacked BAMA Town around 4.00am with automatic weapons, handheld and person borne suicide IEDs, petrol bombs and RPGs killing 60 people and burning several buildings including the Emirs Palace. Aircraft from MAIDUGURI were used to suppress the insurgents during the 5 hour attack
  • Abubakar SHEKAU the leader of Boko Haram released a 28 minute video featuring a captured armoured vehicle in the background interspersed with gunshots from acolytes. Speaking in English, he threatened several prominent Northern politicians, religious and traditional rulers and threatened to attack the Niger Delta and a refinery.

20 February: gunmen attacked RAPYEM Village, BARKIN LADI LGA, PLATEAU State at 1.00am killing 13 people including 9 children

21 February: rumours that Boko Haram were operating along the KANO-DAMATURU-MAIDUGURI Road in the vicinity of BENISHEIK caused traffic jams as drivers to refused to ply the road, there are as yet no confirmed reports of attacks

Situation External Forces:

18 February:

  • Nigerien Security forces have discovered an alleged Boko Haram training camp in NIGER Republic allegedly used for training with anti aircraft and anti tank weapons
  • The US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda THOMAS-GREENFIELD expressed confidence in the ability of the Nigerian government and military to overcome Boko Haram at the end of the NIGERIA-USA Bi National Commission meeting on good governance, transparency and integrity. She refused to comment on the use of drones to counter Boko Haram

21 February: PAKISTAN is to train 20 Nigerian police officers in bomb disposal and countermeasures. According to the Pakistani Charge d’Affaires Ahmad Ali SIROHEY training is to start in the second half of the year with the cost of training borne jointly by both countries.

Situation Other Forces:

17 February: the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) condemned the recent attacks on civilians on KONDUGA, IZGHE and MADAGALI

20 February: Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmed GUMI stated the Boko Haram insurgency will end when President Goodluck JONATHAN leaves office

The northern Governors Forum has called for a new strategy in fight against terrorism

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/   Detained
NPF/DSS

 ??

 ??

0

Military

1??

??

0

Total NSF

 ??

??

0

Vigilantes

0

0

0

Foreigners

0

0

0

Insurgents

 ??

??

Male:

0

Female:

0

Civilian

98

??

40

 

Table 4 Insurgent incidents

Insurgent   Incidents

 

IED Vehicle IED Suicide IED Small Arms Small arms+IED Other wpns Theft Kidnapping

0

0

1

3

2

0

0

1

 

Analysis:

Shekau’s serenade: the latest video from Shekau is another study in terrorist propaganda, targeted messaging and strategic communications.

The 28 minute video features Shekau speaking in Hausa and English against a backdrop of what one presumes is a captured APC flanked by 2 pickup trucks mounted with DshK 12.7mm machine guns. During a part of the video Shekau fires rounds from the DshK into the air, while his acolytes fire their personal weapons into the air, during his speech. They are dressed in camouflage uniform similar to Nigerian desert pattern, the uniforms appear clean and unmarked, several of the surrounding fighters sport AK chest webbing.

Several things stand out for me in this video

Vehicles: the captured APC is obviously exceptionally embarrassing for the military and its inclusion is thus obviously calculated to elicit such a reaction, what interests me more is the camouflage pattern on the pickups, they are all painted dirty brown, blending in perfectly with the surrounding terrain from the air and the ground, a small point that again hints at the insurgents tactical maturity and their consciousness of the air threat. One can’t say if Shekaus firing of the DshK into the air was intentionally meant to demonstrate the weapon in the AA role but it is a potent demonstration of the weapons capabilities.

Equipment: the wearing of Nigerian pattern uniform, battle flags and webbing are again good propaganda tools. These props indicate good morale and success on the battlefield as well as helping cast doubt in peoples mind as to whether the next soldier they see is actually from the Army or from BH. The mix of weapons again was consistent with PK machine guns and AK variant rifles, rather than a motley collection of captured weapons, in an attempt to give a purposeful and professional look of a well equipped insurgent group. Obviously BH would have got their fiercest looking fighters and most serviceable weapons for the video but its again an important message I believe they are trying to get across

Language: this is the second most interesting thing about this video, in which Shekau speaks in both English and Hausa. This is less to demonstrate his linguistic dexterity than an indication of the audiences he is trying to reach, i.e. the Nigerian masses (particularly in the south) and elites (particularly in the North). However the portions in which he spoke English were devoted to a bizarre conspiracy theory (but fairly typical for Nigerians who love a good conspiracy theory) about how Islam was deliberately polluted by the teaching of secular education and music, while the main threats were delivered in Hausa.

Message: the message was tinged with the normal Shekau specials but several choice phrases stand out. There is alot of swearing and harsh language and cursing at people who are not only considerably senior to him in age but in rank and social standing, such as the Shehu of Borno. This is reminiscent of the Maitatsine (literally: the one who curses) a fellow Kanuri (although Camerounian) who led a similarly incoherent and bloody insurgency in the 1980’s. The Maitatsine had a genuine popularity through his sermons which although bizarre raged against the corruptions and injustices of the day and to disenchanted peasants was revelatory in its challenge to authority. It would appear that Shekau is attempting to cast himself in a similar mould, which again harkens back to the days of the caliphates which was again formed by rebelling against orthodoxy.

It might be a trifle late for Boko Haram to attempt to develop a populist platform but it appears they are still staying faithful to the narrative of peasants fighting injustice, hence Shekaus describing himself as ‘that small boy’ again something that would resonate with the millions of disenfranchised youths for whom opportunities are few and far between. The threats against world leaders are typical however the threats against the Niger Delta are new and show an astuteness by Boko Haram. The polarisation of Nigerian politics which is too tedious and depressing to go into here has fractured the ruling elites into different factions. By making these particular threats particularly against the golden goose of the oil industry Shekau highlights an understanding of the true motivations of the political elite. The unpopularity of President Jonathan in the North as well as the perception that people from the Niger Delta are ‘chopping’ or ‘enjoying’ from his tenure (something that would be news to the average Ogoni or Ijaw man) appears to be an attempt to exploit the North/ South divide. Admitting to murdering clerics such as Sheik Albani and threatening others again is in the Maitatsine rejectionist mould of taking on the established orthodoxy. Name checking Northern politicians also ties into the ‘anti democracy’ narrative. Of course the fact that most of them are anti Jonathan helps foster a new round of conspiracy theories.

Enemies Desired Effects: the enemy seems to want to demonstrate their resilience and strength, by displaying captured equipment and dressing in Nigerian type uniform they indicate that they are winning. The firing of the DshK demonstrates that they have functioning heavy weapons and can use them as effective AA platforms. They have also attempted to reinforce their anti democracy anti establishment narrative as well as a rather forlorn attempt again at reigniting the North-South conflict (which failed previously despite bombing churches on Christmas and Easter).

Observations: this is effective propaganda by Boko Haram, it completely upturns the government narrative of victory, embarrasses the military and helps Boko Haram reinforce its message. However it is instructive that considering they are capable of fielding 10s of vehicles in an attack they only displayed a few in this video. This could indicate their air threat awareness or the fact that vehicles are dispersed prior to attacks, again possibly indicating a good level of communication and coordination.

The threats against the Niger delta and refineries although farfetched cannot be ignored, threats against clerics and politicians would hopefully silence or co opt them leaving Boko Haram as the sole voice in the north or else leads the Northern elite to speak using Boko Haram talking points.

However the problem Boko Haram has is they are confined to Borno, Yobe and Adamawa for anything beyond the odd assassination. They have devoted the last 12 months to making war without discrimination against the civil population in that area, providing no alternative government, social programmes or support other than murder, banditry, forced conscriptions, kidnap and rape. Thus even if this area is conceded to them they have absolutely no popular mandate and no resources.

To be nationally relevant they must threaten the wider North, to have a global impact they must threaten the oil producing areas. And this is the effect that Shekau is trying to have. Mentioning world leaders is passé and a bit of a joke, however demonstrating captured equipment and heavy weapons and threatening the oil industry causes ears to prick up in the wider world and also presents unscrupulous politicians with a potential tool in the event that the elections do not go their way.

However the oil industry is the golden goose for the political elite. Secular tribal militias like MEND who have a rational grievance and can be bought off with amnesties and contracts are one thing, nihilistic Islamic fundamentalists who consider education and music to be existential threats to their world view are another.

Thus one can observe that while operationally Boko Haram has the initiative and within the context of Borno and Adamawa States can even be said to be on the ascendant, strategically they are the equivalent of a sulky teenager burning their clothes and trashing their room to spite their parents. It’s a slightly different prospect to go and smash up the family car or in this case attack the far south.

Translation of Hausa portion

 “My brethren…you should hold on to your weapons and continue fighting. Let them understand that our work is not confined to Yobe, Borno and Adamawa (states).

Make them understand that we are not restricted by emergency rule. They should understand we are under the canopy of Allah.

“This is the beginning. Yes, this is the beginning. “We Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad are fighting Christians wherever we meet them and those who believe in democracy, those who pursue Western education wherever we meet them.

By Allah, we will kill whoever practices Democracy. “And you the infidels of Rivers State, Niger (Delta), the town of Jonathan, Shekau is talking to you (sounds of gunshots). Shekau is talking to you, that small boy that has become the nightmare of infidels is talking to you.

“Oh you the leader of the Niger Delta, you will soon see your refinery destroyed. You will in the incoming days see your refinery you are boasting about bombed. Our refinery is Allah.

“NigerDelta you are in trouble. Jonathan you are in trouble…Ban ki-Moon you are in trouble, Bejamin Netanyahu you are in trouble, Queen Elizabeth, you are in trouble, Babangida, Kwankwaso, Shekarau, Kashim, Buhari, you are in trouble. “Yahaya Jingir…the cleric of Jos, the advocate of ‘Boko Halal’, right? We are Boko Haram, you are Boko Halal. You will see, bastard.

“We killed Albani of Zaria. We killed Albani of Zaria. Shekau killed Albani of Zaria.Tomorrow  he will kill Jingir, the  day after tomorrow  he will kill Dapchia, the next day he will kill Wapchama, next he will kill Shehu of Borno, Ado Bayero. We rebel against you, between us and you is enmity and rancour until you believe only in Allah.

“The reason why I will kill you is you are infidels, you follow Democracy…Whoever follows Democracy is an infidel. This is Shekau, this is why I’m in enmity with you.

“Buhari is an infidel, Babangida is an infidel, Atiku is an infidel, late Yar’Adua was an infidel, Shehu of Borno is an infidel. You are all infidels. What makes you infidels is Democracy and constitution and western education…I therefore call on brethren in Kano to rise up and replicate the Baga attack.

“All these infidels we are the ones killing them. We enjoy shedding their blood. “The Koran must be supreme, we must establish Islam in this country; Not only in Borno, we will henceforth destroy any schools wherever we see them.”

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About peccavi

A Nigerian with interests in defence, security, geopolitics, the military particularly small unit tactics, COIN, stabilisation and asymmetric warfare
This entry was posted in Counter insurgency, Defence, Nigeria Defence, Nigeria Strategy, Stabilisation, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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