Friday, August 22, 2014

NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM OVERRUNS BUNI YADI TOWN AND IMPOSES RULE

a Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) press release

Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram reportedly overran the headquarters of Gujba Local Government Area (LGA) in Yobe State, north-east Nigeria, on 21 August, and is imposing its religious strictures on the local population.

Eyewitnesses reported to Nigerian media that on 21 August Boko Haram insurgents overran Buni Yadi Town and hoisted their flag over the residence of the District Head, which they are said to be using as a base. The militants also began enforcing their law on residents; summarily executing two people for smoking, administering 80 lashes to a man who was allegedly cohabiting with a woman who was not his wife, and reportedly killing a known drug dealer.

Buni Yadi has suffered several attacks this year. In February, over 50 people were murdered, most of them students, when sect members attacked the Federal Government College. In May, at least 14 soldiers, 11 policemen and two civilians were killed after troops were taken unawares by Boko Haram gunmen. Less than two weeks ago, Boko Haram gunmen reportedly abducted a traditional ruler and a local chemist.

The takeover of Buni Yadi comes two weeks after the sect overran Gwoza Town in neighbouring Borno State, killing hundreds of residents and causing hundreds more to flee to nearby hills, where some remain. The militants also hoisted their flag and went on to appoint their own Emir. Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) currently puts the number of people displaced by the takeover of Gwoza at 11,442.

Boko Haram insurgents are also reported to have re-grouped to overrun a police training centre situated in the predominantly Christian town of Limankara on 21 August, killing an unknown number of trainees and forcing the rest to flee to the nearby mountains or to neighbouring Adamawa State. This attack follows an unsuccessful attempt a fortnight earlier, in which many insurgents died.

The seizures of Buni Yadi and Gwoza are part of a recent pattern. In late May, the insurgents hoisted their flags in the Ashigashiya Ward of Gwoza LGA, declaring it their headquarters and vowing to launch further attacks on surrounding villages. In a 14-day period from late May to early June, Boko Haram overran 21 communities in Damboa LGA, one in Askira Uba LGA, and another in Chibok LGA, all in Borno State. In each of these communities, the group removed Nigerian national flags and replaced them with its jihadi flag. The fall of Gwoza Town and surrounding areas meant the insurgency was in full control of three LGAs in Borno State.

Special Forces were subsequently deployed to Borno State and are reported to have reclaimed Damboa, Manga, Wanga, Delwa and Mustafari Villages from the insurgents. However, efforts to retake Gwoza have stalled due to stiff resistance from the well-resourced militants, many of whom are said to come from the Ansaru and Harakatul-Muhajiriin terrorist groups, off-shoots of Boko Haram, which are alleged to have a combined force of around 10,000. On 19 August, militants were reported to be chasing away the elderly women, who had been allowed to remain in Gwoza to bury murdered townsfolk, in preparation for an all-out battle with the army

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, 'The appalling excesses of IS in Iraq and Syria have galvanised the international community into renewed efforts to combat Islamist extremism; however these efforts should not be confined to the Middle East. Islamist terror groups like Boko Haram, which appear to be primarily active on the African continent, also pose a threat to international peace and security. The fact that the alleged mastermind of the Nyanya bombings near Abuja in April is a British Nigerian who was radicalised while studying in Wales and was extradited from Sudan, where he reportedly travelled on a British passport, illustrates this point. Parallels between the actions of IS and those of Boko Haram and its allied offshoots are not coincidental. A less compartmentalised approach must be adopted in order for militant jihadism to be addressed effectively, with punitive measures formulated at international level against IS replicated in the case of Boko Haram and other similar groups, including the disruption of funding. Nigeria is facing a transnational and existential threat and every possible assistance must be rendered to this strategic nation as a matter of urgency.'

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

No comments:

Post a Comment