Nigeria | Government Cracks Down on Islamist Militants in the North
- Nigeria Main Page
- Independent Nigeria Faces Ethnic Conflicts
- Military Coups Shift Power
- West African Superpower
- Religion and Fighting Threaten Nigeria's Stability
- Corruption and Violence Taint Democratic Elections
- President Relents on Ending Oil Subsidies
- Government Cracks Down on Islamist Militants in the North
- Ban on Same-Sex Marriages Sparks Homophobic Violence
- Boko Haram Massacres Hundreds of Civilians
- President Jonathan Ousted at the Ballot Box
Government Cracks Down on Islamist Militants in the North
Boko Haram, the fundamentalist Islamist sect that many thought had been obliterated in 2009, made a resurgence in 2011. In fact, the group, which had previously launched attacks locally, emerged as a transnational force possibly linked to al-Qaeda in 2011. It launched nearly daily deadly attacks in 2011, including one on the UN headquarters in August in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, that killed 24 people. On Christmas Day, the sect claimed responsibility for a series of bombings near churches that killed at least 40 people. The government declared a state of emergency in northern Nigeria and dispatched troops to the region, where the group is based. Boko Haram continued its assault on the Lake Chad basin area in the north throughout 2012, prompting retaliatory attacks but government troops.
Fierce—and brutal—fighting between the militants and soldiers in April 2013 in Baga, a fishing village on Lake Chad, left as many as 200 civilians dead and 2,275 homes destroyed. Both sides accused each other of setting homes on fire. The government came under fire for its scorched-earth tactics. In May, the government declared a state of emergency in the northern states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, where Boko Haram has been most actively launching attacks. The move allowed government troops to hold and question terror suspects. The state of emergency did not thwart the violence at the hands of Boko Haram. In July, the government closed secondary schools in Yobe after 22 students were killed in attack attributed to the militants. Another massacre in Borno claimed nearly 90 lives in September. The military inaccurately reported it had killed Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in August.
A split emerged in the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) in August over President Jonathan's plans to potentially run for reelection in 2015. He had previously vowed to sit out the election. The decision angered members of his party from the north, and they formed the the New PDP. Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 22 of PDP's 50 senators, and several state governors joined the new faction. In the midst of the political turmoil, Jonathan fired nine of his cabinet ministers, saying he wanted to "refocus his government, to inject in fresh blood to achieve greater service delivery to the people of Nigeria."