Recent kidnappings of 110 school girls from Nigeria show that Boko Haram is still a dangerous force in Nigeria – despite President Muhammad Buhari, who claimed the group was technically defeated.
Africa Security Correspondent Tomi Oladipo addresses the power of militant Islamists and their ties to the Islamic state group.
Was she involved in abductions?
Not directly. Nonetheless, for kidnappings, the Boko Haram faction was loyal to the IS, just like the wives of police officers and university lecturers in Maiduguri, the northeast capital.
This faction is known as the West African Province (Iswap) – a name designed to show that the IS spreads out of the Middle East and North Africa.
It is officially recognized by IS, headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi. He is believed to be the son of founder Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody in 2009.
IS helps Iswap to conduct a thoughtful campaign. Moreover, the direct link between these two sides appears to be minimal.
Despite the fact that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau promised loyalty to the IS in 2015, the anti-rupture group opposed its leading style and operational methods, which included the use of child suicide bombers and attacks on Muslims.
It is not clear which of these two factions is dominant in Boko Haram, but both operate over the Chad Basin area.
The fragment led by Shekau is most active in the northeast toward Cameroon, while Iswap’s terrain of operations appears to be closer to the boundary with Niger.
Are there any interviews with militants?
The government has said it relies on return channels – including a “friendly country, an international organization and trusted facilitators” – to ensure the release of most of Dapchi’s girls.
There is a precedent.
Last year, some of the over 276 girl chiboks, whose kidnappings attracted global attention to Boko Haram in 2014, freed factions led by Shekau with the assistance of the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Their release was part of the exchange that saw the government release some top commanders Boko Haram.
After the release of Dapchi girl, information minister Lai Mohammed, informed Africa that the government is dealing with militants in negotiating a ceasefire. This is despite the fact that before Buhari insisted that there would be no action with the militants.
“We are actually talking, so we were surprised when this abduction took place,” said Mr. Mohamed.
He refused a ransom or some prisoners had been redeemed.
The government may feel that success in releasing hostages can ultimately lead to a ceasefire.
This, however, contradicts the basic objective of the fighters – to fight the government in order to create an Islamic state.
Overall, does the security situation improve?
This year, she began with Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, who set off on a big offensive against Boko Haram. It’s called Operation Deep Punch II, and the Nigerian army has claimed significant achievements.
There are no indications that the attack will soon end even though the government has claimed that the operations have been halted to open the way for the safe return of the Daphian girls who have been released to militants in cities for almost a month after kidnappings.
Five of the girls allegedly died in captivity, while one – a Christian who refused to convert to Islam – was not released.
Army progress on the battlefield has led to the reopening of some key roads, which has enabled a resumption of business activity in northeastern Nigeria.
But it could make traveling even easier for Boko Haram and could return to the areas where it was driven out.
In the final analysis, there are not enough soldiers to fight Boko Haram and to guard any city, village or school in northeastern Nigeria – when they gave Dapchi girls, they warned them not to go back to school.
Also, intervention operations are threatened, as evidenced by the March 1 attack on UN workers in Rann.
Abu Musab al-Barnawi has previously condemned Western-style relief agencies dealing with the humanitarian crisis, claiming their efforts were a shrouded attempt at Christianity in the population.
His attitude suggests that the conflict in northeastern Nigeria is not far away.