A Few Thoughts on the Abuja/Maiduguri Bombings

Yesterday a bomb exploded at the police headquarters in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Several hours afterwards, a bomb exploded in Damboa, Borno State, near the city of Maiduguri which is the stronghold of the rebel movement Boko Haram. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the Abuja attack and appears to be responsible for the Damboa bombing as well. Here are a few quick thoughts on what these events mean:

  • One motivation for the attack was the escalating rhetorical war between the police and Boko Haram. On Tuesday, Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim stated his intention to destroy Boko Haram. The Abuja attack, which may have been targeting Ringim’s convoy, could be a response to Ringim’s words. Vanguard writes: “Boko Haram, in a statement in Hausa, declared that dialogue with President Goodluck Jonathan had collapsed because of the statements by Ringim and Governor Kashim Shettima during the donation of the 10   personnel armoured carriers, APCs, by the Borno State Government to fight them.”
  • The government’s responseis already pointing in the direction of more force. Vanguard again: “The Federal Government has directed the immediate establishment of a Special Joint Military Task Force specifically to tackle the Boko Haram crises in the North with Maiduguri in Borno State as headquarters of the task force. The task force to be headed by a Major General of the Armoured Corps would comprise the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Airforce, Nigeria Police and the Department State Security, SSS. Already Vanguard gathered that about 200 operatives of the SSS have arrived Maiduguri, 300 officers of the Nigeria Airforce, 300 officers of the Nigeria Navy and 500 soldiers of the Army have landed, with their Force Commander, ready to be deployed for action.”

Elizabeth Dickinson has more.

5 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on the Abuja/Maiduguri Bombings

  1. The only good that might come out of this Boko Haram crisis is a genuine drive towards tangible economic progress. Billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure in the Power Sector, yet there is no electricity. Contracts have been awarded for the dualisation of several roads, yet there is no progress. Money has been spent on refineries, yet there is no gasoline.

    My hope is that this event would make Jonathan see the importance of appointing competent ministers. I hope the Nigerian political class now understands that a combination of poverty and a massive youth bulge is the greatest threat to the status quo – that they just cannot continue life as usual. I hope.

    However, Nigeria is in the same region as Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in Africa, aggrieved youth don’t usually translate into social progress.

    Some of you spend too much time on issues in Northern Nigeria without balancing them with the possible reaction in Southern Nigeria. Another well-timed suicide bombing is a few steps away from massive reprisal killings in Southern Nigeria. Any attempt on Jonathan’s life would whip MEND and other Niger Delta Militant groups into a frenzy. The prospects are very scary.

    People are openly calling for the dissolution of the Nigerian state. Southerners do not understand (and in many cases are unwilling to understand) the passions and motivations of the far Islamic North.

    The Northern elite has the most to lose, they just don’t realise it.

  2. This is a statement attributed to a Bishop in South – East Nigeria.

    “Awka, Nigeria – An Anglican Bishop, Rt Rev. Owen Nwokolo has motioned religious fundamentalists in the north that the south would begin reprisal attacks against northerners in their midst if the current spate of killings of innocent southerners in the north continues.

    Bishop Nwokolo stated this amidst growing concerns over the recurring killings of Christians in the north by Boko Haram, an Islamic sect, that frowns at western education.

    He gave the caution in his 2011 charge yesterday at Immanuel Church Ugwunabamkpa, Onitsha at the 28th Synod with theme: ‘Forgetting what lies behind…. I press on’, and noted that Christians cannot continue to be the sacrificial lamb for the zone. Nwokolo insisted therefore that “enough is enough”.

  3. Hello, one and all!

    Maduka, who appears to be my Nigerian compatriot, has spoken correctly. The fact is that the socioenonomic effects of a pan-Nigerian conflagration woukd hit hardest in the economically disadvantaged North. To be sure,the North is also landlocked with Boko Haram’s bastion that is Maiduguri itself situated 1,675 kilometres (1,025 miles) down the road from Lagos, Nigeria’s industrial and economic capital.
    There exists a history of reprisal killings taking place in the South in response to senseless killings of southerners upcountry. For a fact, reprisal killings followed in the South after the cataclysmic Sharia riots of the early 2000s which took place in Kaduna and Kano. This was similarly the case after the outbreak of ethnoreligious violence in Yelwa-Shendam in 2004, the violence centred around discontent over the staging of the Miss World contest in Abuja and also,with rioting which took place in the North after a Danish cartooist caricatured the prophet of Islam some years ago.

    Any attempt on the life of President Jonathan would almost certainly trigger off massive waves of reprisal killings in the overwhelming christian and restive Niger Delta because it would be interpreted as a clear attempt to deny one of their own a divinely-gifted shot at the Presidency, something which most Niger delta people see as their best chance of rewriting the chequered history of their home region.

    @Gyre. To the extent that Borno has a window on the Lake Chad which is believed to be a conduit pipe for the delivery of supplies and the movement of mercenaries,that could be a distinct possibility. There has existed in the insecurity-prone far northeast for perhaps a decade now, a tripartite security arrangement between the armies of Nigeria,Chad and Niger by way of the little-known Multinational Joint Task Force which is stationed between the cusp of Sahara and the shores of the Lake Chad. It did not have a naval component to its operations before now. That is one possibility. Long before Boko Haram,the myriad of civil wars and unending strife in nextdoor Chad have spawned manifestations in insecurity in Nigeria’s northeast since the early 1980s

    The second possibility is that the Nigerian military are also advancing the cause of joint operations,rapid deployment and interoperability. This is standard practice for them. During the December 2008 episode of ethnoreligious crisis on the Jos Plateau,troops of the 1 Mechanised Division HQ Garrison were airlifted by C130 Hercules to join in the internal security operations, even as Jos is host to the HQ Garrison of 3 Armoured Division. Again, during the July 2009 Boko Haram uprising across a broad swathe of the North stretching for over 500 miles from Katsina in the northwest to Gamboru-Ngala on the Cameroonian border with Nigeria’s Borno State to the east, the core assault group which smashed the stronghold of Boko Haram in Maiduguri and captured the group’s leader comprised of a batallion-sized contingent of infantrymen flown in from the Calabar on the Atlantic coast and a 200-man contingent of troops flown in from Jos who arrived with six Panhard VBL recce vehicles.

    The final possible scenario being played out is that those could very well be a mix of naval regulars who have been tested in combat in the labyrinthine creeks of the Niger Delta and the elite and well-drilled naval special forces of the Special Boat Squadron. The Airforce contingent would most probably be dominated by ground troops of the Nigerian Airforce Regiment, with the inevitable involvement of gunship,utility and transport helicopter crews.

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