Analysis: Boko Haram From Ecomog To Terrorists To Rebels To Bandits
Aug. 22, 2013
NewsRecsue: Boko Haram Nigerian terrorist crises time-line analysis.
Boko Haram according to records, evolved from a militia group initially constituted and armed by the then governor of Borno, Ali Modu Sheriff and other politicians, nicknamed “Ecomog” (Reuters source); these militia were hired political thugs constituted from jobless University graduates and street wanderers, criminals, abandoned almajiri’s and thugs.
Modu Sheriff used Ecomog to edge out Governor Mala Kachallah from the Government House in Maiduguri. These youths defend the interest of any politician who pays their fees. Ecomog can be traced to the era of SDP and were first organized by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. In different states, they bear different names such as Ecomog in Borno and Yobe state, Sara-Suka in Gombe state, Yan- Kallare in Bauchi state, Banu-Isra’il in Taraba state and Yan-Shinko in Adamawa state. The use of political thugs like Ecomog is not peculiar to North-Eastern Nigeria but Nigeria as a whole. They execute criminal political activities similar to militia gangs in other parts of the country such as the ‘Bakasi Boys’ in Eastern Nigeria, the ‘Niger-Delta Defense Force’ in the Niger-Delta region, the Yan Gumurzu or Yan daba in Kano, the Odua Youth Movement among others. Their sprouting was never hindered by Nigeria’s head of security, National Security Adviser (NSA) Spymaster Gusau, who has been linked to terrorism in the nation.
During his interrogation with SSS, Ali Konduga confessed that “Late Ambassador Pindar, a PDP stalwart stepped in to sponsor Ecomog when the relationship went sour with Modu Sheriff . But when he got involved in an auto accident, which claimed his life, Senator Ali Ndume filled the vacuum left by Pindar. He was the one who composed threat text messages that we forwarded to Abuja INEC, etc, in order to frighten them so as to sway judgment in favour of PDP”.
In July 2009, late Mohammed Yusuf, a radical Islamist preacher heading a group that originated around 2002, had his first confrontation with the law, after a burial procession was attacked by the police, this was his first major exhibition of violence, attacking the government. At its early stages, these armed and now abandoned Ecomog militia were recruited under Mohammed Yusuf’s charismatic government, and organized as “Nigerian Taliban.” Much later the Boko Haram nickname was given to the group by the media. Then president Olusegun Obasanjo asked his National Security Adviser (NSA) Spymaster Gusau about this formation, Gusau–now fingered as the chief mastermind of the group–denied their existence to the president, despite the groups public actions, thus allowing the group survive. This is one of several evidences pointing to his alleged role as sponsor.
As the group took form and gathered, brainwashing more recruits from the desolate and poor, abandoned northern youth (estimated then to be 2-17,000 members), they became more daring, staging attacks on government and religious institutions. During President Umaru Yar’Adua’s tenure, his National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sarki Mukhtar dealt a decisive blow to this formation, exterminating majority of the active soldiers, 700 killed in one attack, and in extra-judicial killing, killing its leader Mohammed Yusuf who was reportedly found living in opulence while preaching the doctrine of austerity and self-denial to his followers and members of the public. He was said to have owned properties produced by the Western World which he condemned. “The security men who arrested him were surprised that Yusuf had Cable Satellite, fleet of cars, canned food and fruits drinks.” The cult members believe Mohammed Yusuf will reincarnate.
A leadership tussle, between a Cameroonian and Abubakar Shekau, a Nigerien, resulted in Shekau from Niger republic becoming the leader of the group, however their terrorism was checked during Yar’Adua’s era by his National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sarki Mukhtar.
When president Goodluck Jonathan assumed power and sacked National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sarki Mukhtar, returning the desperate-to-rule-Nigeria General Aliyu Gusau, under whose watch both Boko Haram, MEND southern terrorists and the many other political terrorist militia groups first formed, Boko Haram immediately was able to acquire high sophistication and ammunition as late NSA Andrew Azazi described, and carry out several terrorist attacks. By the time NSA Spymaster Gusau resigned in September 2010, telling his boss, president Jonathan that he wished to contest for his job (The presidency) Boko Haram was back in full force. The terrorist attacks were not religiously inclined and were against government and citizens, Muslim and Christians alike, spreading terror across the land. Gusau’s intentions to contest for the presidency are believed to be behind this enabling of terror to the nation.
Some of the attacks during Boko Haram’s campaign of terror include:
On 7th September, 2010, Boko Haram freed over 700 inmates from a prison in Bauchi State. In December, 2010, Boko Haram staged a market bombing, following which 92 of its members are arrested by the police. On 28th January, 2011, the Borno state candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) for the April 2011 gubernatorial elections, Mr. Modu Fannami Gubio was assassinated, along with his brother, four police officers and a 12-year old boy. Commentators note that the assassination of the ANPP governorship candidate was politically motivated Boko Haram action. On 8th February, 2011, Boko Haram offered conditions for peace. The radicals demand that the Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, step down from office with immediate effect and also allow members to reclaim their mosque in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. On 9th May 2011 Boko Haram rejected an offer for amnesty made by the governor-elect of Borno state, Kashim Shettima. On 29 March, 2011, the police “thwarted a plot to bomb an [ANPP] election rally” in Maiduguri, Borno State (map). 1 April, 2011,on the day before the original date of Nigeria’s legislative elections, suspected Boko Haram members attack a police station in Bauchi. On 9th April, 2011, a polling center in Maiduguri was destroyed. On 20th April, 2011, Boko Haram kills a Muslim cleric and ambushes several police officers in Maiduguri. On 29th May, 2011, Boko Haram is blamed for a series of bombings in northern Nigeria that leave 15 dead. On 17th June, 2011,The group claims responsibility for a bombing attack on the police force headquarters in Abuja that occurred the previous day. Officials believe that the attack is the first suicide bombing in Nigeria’s history and that it specifically targeted Police Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim. On 10th July, 2011, A bombing at the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State. On 12th August, 2011, Prominent Muslim Cleric Liman Bana is shot dead by Boko Haram. He dies after sustaining gunshot wounds. He was walking home after conducting prayers at the main mosque in Ngala.
On 26th August, 2011, The UN headquarters in Abuja is blown up by a suicide car bomber, leaving at least 21 dead and dozens more injured. A Boko Haram spokesman later claims responsibility. Four men are produced in an Abuja magistrates’ court, they are charged with organising the bombing and are remanded in custody for a federal high court hearing.
On 16th October, 2011, Police suspected that members of Boko Haram had shot and killed politician Modu Bintube outside of his home in Maiduguri. 22nd October, 2011, Spokesman Abu Qaqa indicated that the militant group has slain Alhaji Zakariya Isa, a Nigerian Television Authority journalist, claiming that he was a government informant. 5 November, 2011, A series of coordinated attacks in Borno and Yobe states, primarily around Damaturu, kill at least 67 people, leaving a new police headquarters in ruins, and government offices burned. A Boko Haram spokesman tells The Daily Trust newspaper that it is responsible for the attacks and promises more.
25th December, 2011 Boko Haram claimed responsibility for bomb attacks on churches across Nigeria. 5th January 2012, Boko Haram gunmen stormed a church in northern Nigeria Thursday and killed six people as they were praying, the pastor said, as an ultimatum from Islamists for Christians in the region to leave expired. Read more
A handful of victim names: Rev. Faye Pama Musa; Hon Modu Bintube – member of the Borno state house of assembly; Mr Zannah Mallam Gana – Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Borno State; Alhaji Ibrahim Jarma Katagun in Bauchi – former Comptroller General of the Nigerian Prisons; Alhaji Adamu Ahmadu – Comptroller of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); Modu Bintube – a member of the Borno State House of Assembly; Mustafa Baale – a prominent leader of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP); Iliya Tada, Ayuba Yusuf, Idris Dogo, Ekliziyar Yan’uwa – members of Nigeriya (EYN -“Church of Brethern”)
Religious provocation; The Human(H) Bomb
From December of 2011 to July 2012, Boko Haram decided to invest on a campaign to create religious strife and tension in Nigeria. They focused much of their campaigns on bombing Churches every Sunday, hoping to set off inter religious war in Nigeria and get the masses to wage their war for them. Also included in this period of terror was their largest attack across Kano in which over 180 were killed. The Kano attack was said to be retribution for Kano government ceasing to pay a certain tax (5-10 million naira) which it promised monthly to Boko Haram to be safe from attack. Several other northern states were said to have similar pacts with the group.
There were attacks against Mosques and Muslims too in this period, including shooting dead Abbah Anas, the younger brother of the Shehu of Borno on May 31st, 2011; killing 5 at a Mosque in Kano, Feb 24, 2012; a teenage suicide bomber killing 5 at Borno central Mosque, while aiming for deputy governor of Borno state, Zanna Umar Mustapha, and Borno’s Shehu (regional religious leader), Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi; October 14 2012, killing over 20 leaving a Mosque in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna.
On Sunday the 17th of June 2012, Boko Haram bombed 3 churches, killing about 20 people. Christian vexed mobs killed an estimated 100 innocent Muslims in the mayhem that followed. Possibly Muslims too at some points killed innocent Christians in the counter insanity that followed, till the government ordered an emergency state lock-down. Records were hidden and a mass burial was ordered by the government to conceal the exact dimensions of what transpired.
Inflammation: A history of high suspicion of atypical figures utilizing Boko Haram–the phenomenon–for secessionist and extortionist purposes added fuel to the fire of sectarian tensions. On different occasions “Christians” have been found to be perpetrators of attacks and threats. Lydia Joseph was arrested trying to set St. John’s Cathedral ablaze in Bauchi. An Edo man, Wisdom King was arrested with explosives trying to blow up God’s Grace International Ministry Church in Yenagoa, Bayelsa.
US Nigerian expert, Jean Herskovitz described in the New York Times:
“Meanwhile, Boko Haram has evolved into a franchise that includes criminal groups claiming its identity. Revealingly, Nigeria’s State Security Services issued a statement on Nov. 30, identifying members of four “criminal syndicates” that send threatening text messages in the name of Boko Haram. Southern Nigerians — not northern Muslims — ran three of these four syndicates, including the one that led the American Embassy and other foreign missions to issue warnings that emptied Abuja’s high-end hotels. And last week, the security services arrested a Christian southerner wearing northern Muslim garb as he set fire to a church in the Niger Delta. In Nigeria, religious terrorism is not always what it seems.”
Muslims and Christians Unite Against Terror
Rather than fight each other, after the efforts of Boko Haram to ignite the populace, Nigeria’s Muslims and Christians held several meetings and vowed to work together against Boko Haram, while exchanging pleasantries. Several Muslim scholars including Sheikh Pakistani, Sheikh Jingir, Sheikh Gumi condemned Boko Haram in their sermons and advised Muslims against the provocations of the group. A Muslim organization, MuslimsAgainstTerror arose and condemned Boko Haram, releasing the following: “Communiqué: Fear None Save Allah. Defend Islam, Defend People, Defend Churches, Defend Nation,” ushering Muslims to guard Churches. MuslimsAgainstTerror.com on August 17th, 2012, placed a $10,000 bounty on the group leader, Shekau’s head. In November 2012 the Nigerian security services placed a N5 million bounty on the group leader’s head and other rewards on other sought after Shura leaders and commanders.
The major part of 2013, Boko Haram set up camp at the border of Borno and acquired battle field weaponry and vehicles, metamorphosing into insurgents. From the borders they staged attacks on towns in Borno and gradually took over these towns, burning down up to 1000 classrooms, and burning and closing all government parastatals. Telecommunications equipment was also attacked by the group. They even became brave enough to attack police stations and military barracks. At this stage, Boko Haram got very confident, and were about to own their first state; our May 6th, 2013 article alerted on the situation: NewsRescue-Boko Haram: Nigeria Losing Borno.
As Boko Haram became more virulent and severed from some of their political sponsors including states who paid for immunity from them, their thirst for money got the group more involved in directly seeking funding via kidnapping and bank robbery. Dozens of locals were kidnapped daily for ransoms, and foreigners too were kidnapped for larger sums.
A video we released showed the level of sophistication Boko Haram had attained (though included in the video were propaganda clips from other global terrorists). Boko Haram had fully transformed to rebels/Insurgents as we detailed May 8th, Nigeria At War:
“The May 7th occurrence in Bama, Maiduguri is the latest in a series of full scale rebel attacks by Boko Haram forces against the people of Nigeria. According to accounts, over 200 fully armed warriors invaded Bama at 4am, Tuesday and destroyed the town, burning down government parastatals, launching attacks on police stations and liberating over a hundred prisoners before descending on the military barracks.
The Boko Haram “hard-drugged up” combatants came in in several military-style pickup trucks and buses armed with heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. 14 prison wardens were killed, 22 police officers, several civilians including women and children and 2 soldiers. The palace of the traditional leader of Bama was also attacked. This is the new dimension of the threat Nigeria faces. From Terrorists to rebels…” Read more
State of Emergency [SoE]
On May 14, 2013, the president of Nigeria after cutting short a trip to South Africa May 9th, and calling a meeting of the top Army generals, declared a state of emergency in the north eastern states and sent an entire Brigade to fully engage Boko Haram. This decision was contrary to the wishes for amnesty palliation, of the current NSA, Sambo Dasuki, who happens to be Spymaster Gusau’s in-law and also, along with Gusau, was an ex-dictator Ibrahim Babangida henchman. The SoE has proved very successful because the ordinary citizens of the north were fed up of Boko Haram and at last having received the support of the security men of Nigeria’s armed forces, air, land and water, took up local weapons and went after Boko Haram terrorists. Several hundred terrorists were arrested and killed by the joint action of the military and civilian Joint Task Force (JTF). In a spectacular development, families turned in spouses, children and parents with ties to the cult.
Boko Haram were sent running into the mountains, as the people vowed they will never allow them return. Men, women and children take part in routing them out. Camps raided revealed used condoms, charms and hard drugs, as well as computers, telecommunication devices, fake army uniforms and weapons.
During these stages, international media were caught sympathizing with the terrorists and trying to discourage the military action against Boko Haram. Of note is Qatar government run Al Jazeera outlet which fabricated a claim of 3000 dead. Shortly after their chief African correspondent was arrested and kicked out of Niger. On May 17th, the United Nations now declared that Boko Haram may be war criminals.
The United States finally put a 7 million dollar bounty on group leader Shekau’s head, though stopping short of declaring the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Group leader, Abubakar Shekau has been reported killed, dying from wounds he sustained in June, in the Nigerian offensive.
The latest from Boko Haram is their new assumption of the form of blood thirsty bandits. What remains of Boko Haram, currently headed by several low profile, face-covering amnesty money hustlers, now live in mountains and run in and out of cities to try to kill the natives (fishermen, farmers, school pupils) and loot food and provisions for their remaining camps. Most recently they killed over 56 Muslims in a Mosque in a cheap desperation wrung bandit attack. The Nigerian government is implementing air-force jets to man the borders. Boko Haram has lost any remaining or ever existing credibility and sympathy with the people and any case it ever built under the auspices as some type of revolutionary emancipation fighters. Like the Lawrence Anini armed robbers of Nigeria’s past, Boko Haram now exists as bandits, dangerous, desperate but mere bandits, on the path of extinction.