Nigeria: Following The Money

By IndepthAfrica
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Sep 4th, 2012
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A major reason for the support Islamic terror group Boko Haram receives in the north is the widespread belief that the Moslem north is not getting its fair share of the oil income. This has always been a contentious issue that has long been kept under control with an informal agreement. For decades, there has been an understanding that Moslems and Christians would alternate as president. That way the Christian south and Moslem north would alternatively have access to most of the oil money. That’s because the president and his ministers are best able to steal most of that oil income and share it with their families and tribes. Many Moslems are angry that Goodluck Johnson, who, as vice president, took over when the previous Moslem president died in office, should not be president for a full term. Johnson won a fair election for a full term, with many Moslems voting for him. But control of the presidency is worth a lot of money and power, and many Moslems are angry that they have not got the presidency back after Johnson’s abbreviated rule as a Christian president. It’s all about oil money, and long has been.
For Boko Haram it’s also about domination. While Boko Haram wants control of the oil, they also insist on changing the secular constitution and imposing Islamic law (Sharia) on all Nigerians. The ultimate goal is to force all Nigerians to convert to Islam, flee the country or die. The problem is that the Christian southerners would rather die fighting such a conversion effort. That’s one problem with the Boko Haram plan; the other is that the oil is in the Christian south and the Christians definitely control that resource.

The SSS (State Security Service, in charge of internal intelligence collecting) suffered a major embarrassment when, in early August, someone began posting personal details about 60 current and former agents. The data was accompanied by threats from Boko Haram against SSS personnel. It took several days for someone in the SSS to notice and order the records removed from Nigerian websites. But it was too late and the data was out there for good.

September 3, 2012: In Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State in the north panic has broken out because of numerous Boko Haram attacks in the last ten days. More than twenty people have been killed. The local leaders are largely inactive, mainly because the state governor and his key aids are off on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Those state officials left in charge are reluctant to make decisions about what to do to deal with this outbreak of terrorist violence. Thousands of people are fleeing their homes in neighborhoods where Boko Haram has been attempting to gain control. The federal forces (soldiers and police) say they are in control, but without some help from state forces, that assertion is not convincing.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri police raided the home of a Boko Haram leader and seized three AK-47 assault rifles, 306 rounds of ammo for the rifles and 39 small bombs. Also taken was a laptop computer (which contained bomb making instructions and names of Boko Haram members) and 54 SIM cards for cell phones. Police attributed the success of the raid to tips from civilians.

August 28, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri a Boko Haram man was killed when the bomb he was transporting in a wheelbarrow apparently exploded as soldiers fired on him. Only the terrorist was killed although some claim a nearby civilian was also killed.

In the Gulf of Guinea a Russian operated tanker anchored off neighboring Togo, carrying 56,000 tons of diesel and petrol (gasoline) was hijacked by pirates. The crew was locked up and all portable valuables were stolen. Before the pirates left two days later, another ship came along side and pumped off 3,000 tons (about 21,000 barrels) of the cargo. This sort of attack was alarming and will apparently happen again. The gang knew how to operate the ship and disable the tracking (via satellite) device. There are always hundreds of ships, including many tankers, anchored or moving through the Gulf of Guinea (most of which is off Nigeria) and now all these ships are at risk. The ship was eventually found off the Nigerian coast and the pirates are believed to be Nigerian.

August 27, 2012: The government announced that it has opened informal talks with Boko Haram. Some Boko Haram factions are opposed to any discussions with the government, other than to accept its surrender.

August 23, 2012: In the Niger Delta, bandits kidnapped 28 oil workers and held them for ransom. The captives were found and freed the next day by the navy.

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