The mention of “Boko Haram” makes people shiver in Nigeria. Boko Haram is an outlawed group that has been causing unrest especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. This Islamist outfit has wrecked so much havoc since its inception bringing a lot of attention from world leaders. The affected people are not only Nigerians but also people of other nationalities. The devastation brought about by this group is quite grave and continues to escalate by the day in full view of the Government.
What Is Boko Haram?
Boko Haram is a terminology that can be traced to both the Hausa language as well as Islam. Boko in Hausa means fake but was later adapted to mean Western. “Haram” on the other hand is an Islamic term meaning forbidden. This, therefore, describes the term Boko Haram as forbidden western culture. The group was established in 2002 in the town of Maiduguri which lies on the north-eastern side of Nigeria.
Its founder was Mohammed Yusuf who was known to be a very charismatic Muslim leader or cleric. He was able to set-up an Islamic school as well as a mosque which was used as the centre for teaching its followers.
What Is Their Mission?
The reason behind the formation of the group was based on the inequality of wealth distribution. The North-eastern part of Nigeria is mainly populated by the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group who are predominantly Muslim. Despite being the largest and accounting for 29% of the population, the region is also the least developed. Government resources and wealth is concentrated on the southern side that is mainly occupied by Christians.
In their view, the Muslims saw Christians as oppressive. This was mainly influenced by the Western culture hence the need to wipe out the western influence and claim their share of resource allocation. In fact, the official name of the group which is in Arabic “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad” can loosely be translated as “People dedicated to the spread of the Teachings of The Prophet and Jihad“.
Why Do They Claim Innocent lives?
Resistance to western culture more so education did not begin with the formation of Boko Haram, it started way back when the country was under the colonial rule. They also believe strongly in their Quranic (Koranic) teaching particularly a verse that states that anyone who does not adhere to Allah’s (God’s) teaching is a transgressor. This has led to the group using their trademark killing style that involves the use of motorcycles and “Kalashnikov” rifles. The group also dresses in military uniforms and places checkpoints or roadblocks where unsuspecting civilians are butchered.
Nigeria Boko Haram: Timeline of terror
- Founded in 2002;
- In 2009 hundreds of civilians including policemen were killed when the Islamist militant group stormed police stations in Maiduguri.
- The same year (2009), their leader cleric Mohamed Yusuf was arrested by the army and later handed over to the police where he later died.
- In 2010, the group stormed the Bauchi jail and released hundreds of inmates.
- December of 2010 saw the bombing of Jos where 80 people were killed.
- On the 31st of December, an attack was carried out on Abuja barracks.
- Dozens of civilians were killed in various shootings that took place in Maiduguri in 2010-2011. In May 2011 during the inauguration of President Jonathan Goodluck, several states were bombed;
- The Abuja Police Headquarters was bombed in 2011;
- The UN Headquarters in Abuja was also bombed in 2011;
- Organized gun attacks and bombings took place in Borno and Yobe states in November 2011.
- On Christmas Day of December 2011, multiple bomb attacks led to the deaths of dozens of people.
Since their establishment, more than 15,000 people have been killed. The group is highly present in the regions of Damaturu, Logumani, Potiskum, Mubi, Yola and Maiduguri.
The negative impacts that are being witnessed in the affected region are most disheartening. This is being felt in all sectors of the community and include social, economic, as well as political. Families have been disintegrated, lives have been lost, there is civil unrest especially between Muslims and Christians who are all living in fear. The economy of Nigeria has also taken quite a hit. Although the northern region is the least developed, it still plays an important role in the economy.
Over time, due to the infiltration of Government forces, Boko Haram has been pushed deeper into the rural areas where their operation is restricted. People in the region only hope for an end to this social evil that continues to create disharmony among Nigerians.