A wave of weekend violence by the Nigerian jihadist organization Boko Haram that killed more than 115 Christians in northeastern Borno state underscores the helplessness of a government that now is attempting a “soft approach” to stopping the carnage.
In February alone, Boko Haram killed more than 400 people in its ongoing effort to subdue Christians and establish Islamic law, or Shariah, throughout the northern African nation, noted Todd Daniels, an analyst for International Christian Concern, a Washington, D.C.-based group that assists persecuted Christians worldwide.
The Muslim attacks have forced more than 300,000 people to leave their homes in northeastern Nigeria since 2010, according to a United Nations estimate. Most are internally displaced and some have fled to Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Daniels told WND the Nigerian government is paralyzed, noting a report that President Goodluck Jonathan is going to try a soft approach and sit down and talk.
“Now doesn’t seem like the time for that,” Daniels observed.
“They tried the military approach, and that was ineffective, but it’s not likely that talking will bring any results.”
In a recent nighttime rampage, Boko Haram killed two in a village in Borno state, killed a pastor and his family, burned the pastor’s house and burned several church buildings. In a string of similar attacks, Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani tribe killed 20 people in one village, killed a state governor and burned down the governor’s house.
Military analyst and “Long War Journal” editor Bill Roggio told WND the new attacks can be attributed to Boko Haram’s better organization and training.
Boko Haram, he said, has taken advantage of being next door to the al-Qaida hotbeds of Mali, which hosts jihadist training, and Libya, where arms are supplied.
“The situation in Mali can’t be undersold. They had better organization, better training and better funding,” he said. “Their involvement in Mali is a major factor in their current strength, because they had actual experience in operation.”
Roggio said Boko Haram is continuing to grow and now is able to attack at will.
“They’ve attacked military bases, towns numerous times, racking up high body counts,” he said.
Daniels said the attacks are having an impact on the Christian schools in the north, where 85 schools are being considered for closure, affecting 120,000 students.
The administrators are fearing more attacks, he said, noting Boko Haram’s goal of eliminating Western education from the country.
Roggio said the government apparently is incapable of responding to the attacks.
“If the government could defeat this group and do so with only minimal repercussions, it would, but it hasn’t,” he said. “We have to assume that in some way there are a multiple of reasons. Capacity is only one aspect. To fight them they have to go into areas that are mixed or predominantly Muslim areas, so it’s tricky for the government.
The Nigerian government has claimed several times that Boko Haram had been defeated.
“But that’s obviously not the case,” Roggio said. “In my estimation, they’ve lost control of the situation.”
Daniels believes that the government has been compromised.
“There has even been speculation of various government officials being involved in supporting various groups as a means of gaining political leverage. These sorts of acts raise serious questions concerning both the integrity and the aptitude of the Nigerian politicians,” he said.
“The result has been that Christians have been left vulnerable to repeated, systematic acts of violence throughout the country.”
The possibility that the Nigerian government is incapable of action is a serious concern among Africa and human rights analysts. WND reported this month that there is a growing consensus that President Jonathan’s government has lost control.
International Christian Concern analyst Ryan Morgan said it appears there’s not even an attempt to prevent the deaths.
“It looks as if the Nigerian government is incapable of defending Christian villages from attack,” he said. “All of the reports we’ve seen of the attacks that took place Tuesday and Wednesday indicate the Fulani herdsmen who attacked were completely unopposed as they shot civilians and burned down scores of homes.”
The Fulani tribesmen have carried out several multiple-casualty attacks in the past two weeks.
Daniels said the recent attacks show how unstable Nigeria is at the moment.
Fulani herdsmen, he explained, have a long-standing feud with Christian landowners, but the recent attacks are about more than just herdsman fighting over access to pasture land or water.
“They are intentionally decimating entire villages,” he said. “These attacks are what occurred in the Kaduna state in two separate incidents over the weekend and claimed the lives of nearly 150 people.”