Nigeria: Surge in Boko Haram attacks derails return of refugees

Community leaders say terrorists are engaged in unchecked fish, farming businesses to sustain terrorism

Olarewaju Kola  | 29.08.2020 - Update : 29.08.2020
Nigeria: Surge in Boko Haram attacks derails return of refugees


The recent surge in the attacks launched by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeastern region has faded hopes of millions of displaced persons who were looking to restart their normal lives by returning to their homes.

According to the UN, more than 30,000 civilians and security personnel have been killed and nearly three million people displaced since July 2009 when terrorism hit in the region.

Barely a month after a bloody assault on the UN’s humanitarian office in Monguno, town, over the past one week the terrorists have ambushed travelers along a major road in Borno province. They also attacked Magumeri and Kukawa, the towns around the Lake Chad where they also abducted some teenagers.

More than 50 people including military personnel and aid workers have been killed in various attacks in the area by Boko Haram between June and mid-August. The terrorists have also abducted dozens of women and children in recent times.

Zanna Boguma, a community leader in Borno described the recent upsurge in terror attacks disturbing. He claimed that inadequate military hardware and commercialization of the war are responsible for continuing violence.

The surge of violence has worried displaced persons like Usman Musa and Mohammed Saleh, who believe that may never be able to return to their homes.

“I escaped from my home in September 2014 when Boko Haram raided our town in Gwoza. It was very dark. Everybody ran into different directions and I have not seen my two sons since then,” he told Anadolu Agency in Maiduguri, the capital and the largest city of Borno state in northeastern Nigeria.

Usman, a farmer wants to return to his home along the Nigeria-Cameroon border and cultivate his fields.

“I am tired of living like a refugee. I want to go home to take care of my farms to earn a living, “he added.

Saleh, displaced seven years ago was planning to return home. But July 27 shooting of the motorcade of Borno governor by Boko Haram at a town along the Nigerian-Niger border has derailed his plans.

Terrorists involved in fish and farming business 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency Boguma said although Nigerian forces are rated high in Africa, business interests in the continuation of war have to allow terrorists to thrive. The community leader, who heads a forum of 50 eminent citizens ranging from religious leaders to academics and lawyers, claimed that he has gathered this impression while interacting with the locals.

He charged that some military officers were involved in economic activities in the coastal area along the Lake Chad shores.

He also said the terrorists’ involvement in fish and farming businesses provided them funds to sustain terrorism. He urged authorities to investigate the allegation and treat Boko Haram in the same way as the world dealt with ISIS/Daesh terror group.

Disputing these claims, the military said the non-conventional nature of the war on terrorism, lack of constant intelligence from the locals was behind the spurt in violence.

“The northeast region shares borders with three African countries; Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The border region allows movement of men and material arms,” said Maj. Gen. Alex Omoigoi, deputy commander of the counter-terrorism operation in the region.

The Nigeria-based UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon warned the violence could acerbate the humanitarian crisis in the region.

“The situation is still extremely difficult. People are not able to return to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. There are periodic attacks by non-state armed groups. So, the conflict is still ongoing,” he said shortly after meeting President Mohammadu Buhari.

The UN had earlier in July warned the prolonged violence in the region could affect 24 million people in the Lake Chad region and the Africa Sahel.

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