Nigeria’s Boko Haram movement has become a lethal opposition to the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). The ANPP, an opposition party nationally, rules Borno State, Boko Haram’s stronghold. Boko Haram, a radical Muslim rebel sect, attracted global attention during its battle with the Nigerian military in July 2009. The ongoing pattern of violence against state politicians demonstrates how far the movement’s tactics have shifted from 2009: Boko Haram may intend to rise up again in open battle with the state, but for now it is working to disrupt the political process by killing high-profile targets.
The ANPP has cause to fear. In October 2010, members of Boko Haram shot Awana Ngala, a regional vice chairman for the party.* In late January of this year, Boko Haram assassinated Modu Fannami Gubio, gubernatorial candidate for the ANPP in Borno State. Now Boko Haram has assassinated another major political figure in Borno State: Alhaji Modu Gana Makanike, a youth leader in the ANPP.
Makanike, the Gwange II Ward Chairman of ANPP, was shot and killed shortly after a political meeting at the residence of another chieftain of the party at Gwange III of Maiduguri metropolis.
Some witnesses said Makanike was apparently killed in “error” as the actual target appeared to be the special adviser to Governor Ali Modu Sheriff on political affairs Alhaji Baba Kura Habeeb who was also at the meeting.
It was gathered that the four gunmen who went to the venue of the meeting around 10:00am yesterday hid behind a generator room of a borehole and opened fire immediately the ANPP officials appeared in the public after the meeting.
These shootings fit into a broader pattern of assassinations perpetrated by the movement. But most of Boko Haram’s other murders have targeted security personnel or rival Muslim clerics. Felling three major politicians shows that Boko Haram wants not only to control the streets and the religious space in Borno State, the movement also wants to systematically intimidate the ruling party. The approach of April’s elections may be increasing the violence, but Boko Haram’s bid to disrupt political life in Nigeria’s north east will not end once the votes are counted. The next governor of Borno State will have good reason to fear for his personal safety.
*I missed this incident in earlier lists of Boko Haram’s assassinations.