Nigeria’s Response to Terrorism and Boko Haram

3275 words (13 pages) Essay in Politics

20/05/19 Politics Reference this

Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work produced by our Essay Writing Service. You can view samples of our professional work here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

The Evolution of Boko Haram and Nigeria’s Response to Terrorism

Terrorism is the use of violence by nonstate actors against civilians or the government in order to achieve an ultimate political goal.[1] Sometimes, terrorism is a reaction to a poor, corrupt government in a country or state. Post World War II, Africa has been the hub of various internal conflicts and civil wars. Because of ethnic conflict, groups attempt to achieve power by gaining control over existing institutions.[2] With that being said, Nigeria’s weak and corrupt government eventually led to the rise of Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group.[3] Based heavily in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram uses violence to reform Nigeria’s secular society into an Islamic one by implementing sharia law.[4] Contributing to their rise to local terrorism, Boko Haram officially joined forces with other terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.[5] The Nigerian government has attempted to control Boko Haram with different approaches, but has failed multiple times due to their fragility. Their failure leads to the question of whether or not Boko Haram will eventually take over Nigeria as a theocratic government.[6] Because of the Nigerian government’s instability and lack of cohesion, Boko Haram continues to rise, potentially overthrowing Nigeria’s present federal government in the future.

Nigeria’s government displays a corrupt institution, which drove the formation of Boko Haram. Its government is a federal system consisting of a president and a bicameral National Assembly. Along with the federal government, Nigeria has a state and local government.[7] Nigeria is a secular state that embraces worldly values, such as Western education. Also, they are a prominent oil exporter to other countries, as well as the fifth largest oil producer.[8] However, Nigeria has a reputation for being a failed nation because of their weak, corrupt government. Their wealth from the oil exports has not transformed the country and its civilians, as 70% of Nigeria is living in poverty. In addition to the impoverished, Nigeria lacks common interests, such as ethnicity, region, and religion. Along with three majority ethnic groups named the Muslim Hausa-Fulani in the North, the Christian Igbo in the Southeast, and the Yoruba in the Southwest, Nigeria consists of at least 250 minority groups.[9] Additionally, Africa believes that security should be controlled by the ruling elite. African elitists disperse power and resources to themselves, their families, and other elitists.[10] Their strive for political power and wealth leads to their negligence to significant human security priorities. Human security priorities include the protection of democracy, the expansion of education and healthcare, the promotion of women’s rights, and the provision of infrastructure and agricultural programs. The government’s negligence to human security leads to criminality and terrorism by unhappy civilians. Thus, the failure of the Nigeria’s government essentially leads to the rise of terrorism, specifically the formation of Boko Haram.

Because of Nigeria’s unstable government, local terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, evolved in Northern Nigeria. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in Yobe State, their main religious goal is to replace the Nigerian laws into laws that were created by the Holy Qur’an.[11] Criticizing secularism and Western principles, Boko Haram in the Hausa language means “Western education is sin’.[12] In their statement in 2011, they acknowledged that the Nigerian government is illegal, stating, “We will never accept any system of government apart from the one stipulated by Islam because that is the only way that the Muslims can be liberated”.[13] Another factor that triggered the rise of Boko Haram was the poor socioeconomic status in Northern Nigeria. The socio-economic system differs greatly between Northern and Southern Nigeria, causing a large marginalization between both regions. The huge marginalization is a main reason why Northern Nigerians are rebelling the government.[14] Consisting of over 40,000 members, Boko Haram includes Islamic clerics, students, student dropouts, the umemployed, and Nigerian political elites.[15] Additionally, Boko Haram is not monolithic, dividing the group two factions: one who teaches Islam and one who are criminals. Both factions differ on their use of violence to achieve their political goals. [16] All in all, Boko Haram was a reaction to Nigeria’s corruption by political elites.

The missionary group, which is the first group established in Boko Haram, truly provided the true teachings of Islam.[17] In 2002, Boko Haram based their hub in Kannama, Nigeria by establishing a semi-autonomous Islamist community.[18] Although they did not turn to violence for their religious and political goals, the missionary group supported violence as a defense strategy.[19] By focusing on only domestic issues in Nigeria, these missionaries primarily participated in community outreach, as well as provided social services to the impoverished. In 2003, their neighboring town, the Yobe State, expelled Boko Haram for accusing the State of corruption due their secular values. Because of their expulsion, Boko Haram became more radicalized and turned to violence by creating the “jihadist phenomenon”.[20] 

The jihadists are considered the extremists of Boko Haram. They support any means of violence that will lead to their political goals. Overtime, Boko Haram became more radical as the number of jihadists increased. Their attacks target businesses and institutions, as well as public figures and innocent people. They also discriminately attack Christians and foreigners.[21] In 2003, they attacked government institutions and the Nigerian police. After numerous cycles of attacks and counterattacks, Nigerian security forces destroyed Boko Haram’s base. The counterattacks only led to a more radical terrorist group as Boko Haram regrouped, demanding a declaration of war between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.[22] From there, Boko Haram developed even further by affiliating themselves with other terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda.

By affiliating themselves with other terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram expanded their jihadist organization from regional to transnational, relocating their hub in Chad and Niger in 2009. After Muhammed Yusuf died after a counterattack, Abubakr Shekau rebuilt the terrorist organization. In 2009, he declared that they were formally working with al-Qaeda and proposed another goal for Boko Haram.[23] Shekau stated, “We support Osama bin Laden, we shall carry out his command in Nigeria until the country is totally Islamized which is according to the wish of Allah.” [24] Additionally, in 2010, they were also found working with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Their partnership with various terrorist organizations led to a more radical situation. Boko Haram expanded their attacks into Mali, Cameroon, and Chad.[25]  According to the Council on Foreign Relations, over 10,000 people were dead in 2014 from terrorist attacks. They also engaged in kidnapping, specifically the kidnapping of 276 school girls in 2014 in Borno State.[26] Therefore, because of their affiliations with al-Qaeda and ISIS, Boko Haram is currently operating internationally in the al-Qaeda led pan-jihadist network in Africa.[27] The evolution of Boko Haram is substantial and consistently rose to power as a reactionary group against the Nigerian government.

Because the rise of Boko Haram intensified overtime, Nigeria’s government and security forces endlessly attempted to respond to the terrorist group in multiple ways. The two approaches that are debated amongst the security forces are the soft-hand approach and the heavy-hand approach. The soft-hand approach uses negotiations and conciliations, while the heavy-hand approach uses security forces, violent counterattacks, and declaration of war.[28] These two approaches led to a division of two groups based on their preference of the soft-hand approach or the heavy-hand approach. Because the government was afraid of harming civilians and worsening the relationship between Nigeria and Boko Haram, the soft-hand approach was the primary approach. For instance, Ali Modu Sheriff, governor of Borno State, paid 100 million Nigerian Naira to Boko Haram in order to mediate the violence.[29] Another example of a soft hand approach was used by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. In order to convince Boko Haram to surrender in exchange for amnesty President Jonathan Goodluck created the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North. Nonetheless, Abubakr Shekau and his terrorist organization declined Goodluck’s offer.[30] Boko Haram’s response implies that the soft-hand approach is not the best approach for mediation.

Since the soft-hand approach did not work to its fullest potential, the Nigerian government and its security forces attempted the heavy-hand approach. After further attacks by Boko Haram in 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency.[31] This was justified by many civilians, including constitutional lawyer Yahaya Mahmud, arguing, “The declaration of a state of emergency was necessitated by the constitutional obligation to restore a portion of Nigeria’s territory taken over by Boko Haram which involves the suspension of constitutional provisions relating to civic rights.”[32] As a result, Jonathan established the Joint Task Force, which consisted of 8,000 soldiers. The soldiers searched and raided homes, as well as arrested and killed both civilians and jihadists.[33] The Joint Task Force’s acts were labelled as a human rights violation. Since the Joint Task Force and the Nigerian government abused their power by mass killing and raiding homes, they violated human rights and their democracy. This created a direct result called the surveillance state.[34] Human rights violations and negligence to democracy can consequent into further political violence.[35] For example, in a fire attack between Joint Task Force and Boko Haram in Baga Village. At least 187 people were killed and 2,000 houses were destroyed. Instead of blaming the terrorist group, Baga civilians blamed the Nigerian government for its harsh counterattacks.[36] Therefore, the heavy-hand is not effective in mediating the two sides.

Various recommendations and approaches were created due to multiple failed attempts by Nigerian security forces to control Boko Haram. Because different security force organizations have overlapping tasks, they all fail to cooperate and coordinate with one another, leading to corruption. Their counterattacks are ineffective because of their flawed strategies and Nigeria’s fragile government. Thus, one new approach that was introduced is enforcing a human security approach. With the human security approach, the Nigerian government needs to reform key components in its country to try to keep their civilians safe.[37] Improving human security would minimize civilians’ desire to revolt or protest against the government.  By doing so, the government needs to fix their socioeconomic inequalities between regions and human security. For example, they should demobilize their militias, start programs regarding economic equality, improve infrastructure, expand access to education, improve security forces, and gain allies with other countries.[38] The most significant factor, however, is reexamining the struggle for power inside the Nigerian government.[39] Having power in Nigeria means automatic wealth and luxury, which sometimes leads to corruption amongst the people in power. All in all, the Nigerian government cannot simply use a heavy-hand approach or a soft-hand approach to control Boko Haram. Instead, they need to reform their institutions and improve their human security.

The battle between Nigeria and Boko Haram is still occuring today. However, the violence started by Boko Haram has declined since 2015. The nigerian military, with aid from different African countries, have forced Boko Haram out of certain territories in Northern Nigeria. Nonetheless, they still attack innocent civilians, such as women and children.[40] Boko Haram is still notorious for their kidnapping of school girls. In March 2018, they kidnapped more than 100 students in Dapchi, Nigeria. Nigerian security forces failed to respond to the kidnapping, demonstrating their continuous corruption and instability. For example, the police officers in Dapchi ran away from the scene because they believed they could not control Boko Haram.[41] The repetitiveness from the kidnapping acts and the weak responses emphasizes how fragile the Nigerian government is and their failure to improve their security forces. Thus, it is predicted that Boko Haram will continue to rise as Nigeria’s government still maintains corrupt and unstable.

Due to the Nigerian government’s instability, Boko Haram continues to rise, potentially overthrowing Nigeria’s government in the future. Nigeria’s corrupt government, expansion of Western education, and lack of human security eventually led to the rise of Boko Haram, a Islamic terrorist group. Based heavily in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram uses violence to reform Nigeria’s secular society into an Islamic state. Evolving into a more radical terrorist organization, Boko Haram officially joined forces with other terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. As a result, the Nigerian government has attempted to control Boko Haram with different approaches, but has failed multiple times due to their lack of cooperation with each other. Their failure to control Boko Haram still occurs today. Their consistent failure brings Boko Haram closer to overthrowing the Nigerian government and implementing Islamic law into the country.

Works Cited

  • Agbiboa, Daniel. “The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.” Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 2(3), p.Art 52., 2013. (1-14).
  • Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 3, Issue 5 (2012): (853-869).
  • Associated Press, Boko Haram: Deadly Terrorism In Nigeria. (Miami, FL : AP Editions. 2015).
  • “Boko Haram in Nigeria” Council on Foreign Relations. Last modified December 4, 2018. https://www.cfr.org/interactives/global-conflict-tracker?cid=ppc-Google-grant-conflict_tracker-031116&gclid=CjwKEAiAm8nCBRD7xLj-2aWFyz8SJAAQNalaq6ad0YJ5i6ZEa8KHLfiePs1wCPTk_vi1lzcvMejD-BoCBKrw_wcB#!/conflict/boko-haram-in-nigeria.
  • Gray, Simon and Ibikunle Adeakin. “The Evolution of Boko Haram: From Missionary Activism to Transnational Jihad and the Failure of the Nigerian Security Intelligence Agencies.” African Security, Vol. 8, Issue 3 (2015): (185-211).
  • Patrick O’Neil, Essentials of Comparative Politics (Sixth Edition). (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2018).
  • Searcey, Dionne and Emmanuel Akinwotu. “Nigeria Failed to Act in Schoolgirl Kidnappings by Boko Haram, Report Says.” New York Times. Last modified March 20, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/world/africa/nigeria-boko-haram-schoolgirls.

[1] Patrick O’Neil, Essentials of Comparative Politics (Sixth Edition) (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2018), 217.

[2] Ibid, 74.

[3] Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 3, Issue 5 (2012): 853

[4] Agbiboa, Daniel. “The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.” Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 2(3), p.Art 52. (2013): 6

[5] Ibid, 7

[6] Ibid.

[7] Falola, Tonya, “Government and Society,” Britannica, last modified November 11, 2018, https://www.britannica.com/place/Nigeria/Government-and-society, 1

[8] Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?”: 861

[9] Ibid., 861-862

[10] Ibid., 856

[11] Agbiboa.“The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.”:4

[12] Associated Press, Boko Haram: Deadly Terrorism In Nigeria. (Miami, FL : AP Editions. 2015), 18. 

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.,9

[15] Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?”: 858

[16] Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?”: 859

[17] Gray, Simon and Ibikunle Adeakin. “The Evolution of Boko Haram: From Missionary Activism to Transnational Jihad and the Failure of the Nigerian Security Intelligence Agencies.” African Security, Vol. 8, Issue 3 (2015): 187

[18] Ibid., 189

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., 188

[21] Ibid.

[22] Gray, Simon and Ibikunle Adeakin. “The Evolution of Boko Haram”: 191

[23] Ibid., 192

[24] Agbiboa.“The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.”:7

[25] Ibid., 193

[26] Associated Press, Boko Haram: Deadly Terrorism In Nigeria. (Miami, FL : AP Editions. 2015), 9.

[27] Gray, Simon and Ibikunle Adeakin. “The Evolution of Boko Haram”: 196

[28] Agbiboa.“The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.”:7

[29] Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?”: 866

[30] Agbiboa.“The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.”:7

[31] Associated Press, Boko Haram: Deadly Terrorism In Nigeria. (Miami, FL : AP Editions. 2015), 76.

[32] Ibid., 12

[33] Ibid.

[34] Patrick O’Neil, Essentials of Comparative Politics (Sixth Edition). (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2018), 229.

[35] Ibid, 87.

[36] Agbiboa.“The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State.”: 12

[37] Aghedo, Iro and Oarhe Osumah. “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?”: 853

[38] Ibid, 856

[39] Ibid, 867

[40] “Boko Haram in Nigeria” Council on Foreign Relations. Last modified December 4, 2018.https://www.cfr.org/interactives/global-conflict-tracker

[41] Searcey, Dionne and Emmanuel Akinwotu. “Nigeria Failed to Act in Schoolgirl Kidnappings by Boko Haram, Report Says.” New York Times. Last modified March 20, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/world/africa/nigeria-boko-haram-schoolgirls., 1-3

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please:

McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams Prices from
£28

Undergraduate 2:2 • 250 words • 7 day delivery

Order now

Delivered on-time or your money back

Rated 4.6 out of 5 by
Reviews.co.uk Logo (135 Reviews)

We can help with your essay