Boko Haram increasing its reach in Nigeria

No country on the World Watch List in 2021 had a higher increase in the “violence” score than Nigeria. Increased acts of violence were particularly in the northern region, largely due to extremist activity. Mass kidnappings became frequent and more and more Christians began to fear for their lives.

According to an article published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on March 3 2021, since 2014 – and particularly under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau – Boko Haram has made progress in expanding its base beyond Nigeria’s north-east, with north-west and north-central regions increasingly becoming its areas of choice. Contacts with many criminal forces have been established.

Frans Veerman, Managing director of Open Doors’ World Watch Research (WWR), comments: “As the ISS article makes clear, the reasons for this expansion are manifold: 1) It diverts government military pressure away from Boko Haram’s main base in the Sambisa Forest; 2) it widens scope for recruitment; 3) it opens up financial gain through ransom payments and illegal gold mining; 5) it increases the territory for creating an Islamic state. This teaming up with Fulani militia and armed criminal groups...is threatening church communities in the whole of the North.”

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Veerman adds an important note: “Through these connections to other groups and movements, Boko Haram now has increased access to the South. In the south-west there is already violence being perpetrated by Fulani militants and land grabbing. This is increasingly happening in the south-east too. Boko Haram is in a strong position to provide a more systematic coordination for action carried out by armed bandits and Fulani militia in those areas. Thus, there is serious danger that Shekau and his Islamist agenda could destabilize the whole of the country within the next few years.”

You can read more about the growing problem of violence in Nigeria, as well as other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, here.

You can also listen to a discussion on the subject on this episode of the World Watch Weekly podcast.

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