Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’s military’

U.N. Relations With Nigeria ‘Intact’ After Dispute Over Army Raid

August 12, 2017

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — The United Nations’ relationship with Nigeria is intact, a U.N. official said on Saturday, despite a military raid on a compound belonging to the international body in the conflict-ridden northeast.

“I am very pleased to report that our relationship of collaboration and trust is intact,” Peter Lundberg, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said at a briefing in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

Friday’s raid had threatened to undermine an already-rocky relationship between Nigeria’s military and the United Nations and other aid organizations.

The army said it was a search for members of Islamist insurgency Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the epicenter of the fight against the militants, in an area of the city that included the U.N. compound.

The army and United Nations still disagree over whether the compound was registered and designated as belonging to the U.N.

A worsening of relations between the U.N. and Nigeria could risk destabilizing efforts to deliver aid to almost seven million people affected by the eight-year conflict with Boko Haram, one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.

The United Nations on Friday had halted various operations around the northeast, but following reassurances from Nigeria those resumed on Saturday, said Lundberg.

“We are here in support of the government of Nigeria, the United Nations agencies and over 60 non-government organizations,” said Lundberg.

In a separate statement, Ibrahim Attahiru, a commander of Nigeria’s operations against Boko Haram, said the army was not trying to block the United Nations’ activities.

“We will continue to collaborate with the United Nations humanitarian agencies to achieve the goals of the counter-insurgency campaign and other developments to address the humanitarian crisis in the northeast region,” he said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Kingimi in Maiduguri; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Andrew Bolton)


After Boko Haram Islamic extremists attack a remote military base in northeast Nigeria: 83 government soldiers are missing

October 23, 2016

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Some 83 Nigerian soldiers are missing in action since Boko Haram Islamic extremists attacked a remote military base in the northeast, senior army officers said Sunday.

The soldiers were unable to fight back and fled because Boko Haram had superior fire power, the officers told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give information to reporters.

Morale also was low among the troops because they were being rationed to one meal a day and their allowances were being pilfered by their commanders, the officers said.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman reported last week that “some” soldiers were missing and 13 wounded when the insurgents on Oct. 17 attacked their base in Gashigar village, on the border with Niger. Usman has not responded to requests for the actual number.

Dozens of fleeing troops jumped into the Niger River and 22 were pulled from the water by soldiers from that neighboring country, officers said. Many soldiers are feared to have drowned, they said.

In a separate development, hunters killed seven Boko Haram fighters who were burning buildings and huts in northeastern Makwaa village, the hunters and villagers confirmed Sunday. “We engaged them in a fierce battle for close to three hours, we overpowered them, resulting in the killing of seven,” hunter Aisha Gombi said of Saturday night’s firefight. “One was caught alive with gun wounds and others escaped into the bush.”

President Muhammadu Buhari promised to better arm Nigeria’s military when he was elected in March 2015, blaming corruption for the deaths of thousands including soldiers in the 7-year-old Islamic insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people.

Billions of dollars meant to buy arms were stolen or diverted to the presidential campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, according to ongoing court cases.

Military officers also are currently facing courts-martial for allegedly selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country’s fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

Still, the military in the past year has succeeded in dislodging the insurgents from most towns and villages where they had set up an Islamic caliphate. But the extremists continue to attack remote villages and main roads that they have mined. Nigeria’s army has reported thwarting and killing several suicide bombers in the past month.

The United Nations has warned that tens of thousands among the 2.6 million people forced from their homes by the insurgency are facing famine-like conditions that already are killing children.


Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press writer Ibrahim Abdulaziz contributed to this report from Yola, Nigeria.

United Nations says famine-like conditions created by Boko Haram in Nigeria could cause as many as 75,000 children to die over the next year

September 29, 2016

By Michelle Faul
The Associated Press
September 29, 2016

As many as 75,000 children will die over the next year in famine-like conditions created by Boko Haram if donors don’t respond quickly, the U.N. Children’s Fund is warning. That’s far more than the 20,000 people killed in the seven-year Islamic uprising.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, seen here in a video. Credit © Boko Haram/AFP/File

The severity of malnutrition levels and high number of children facing death make the humanitarian crisis confronting northeastern Nigeria perhaps the worst in the world, according to Arjan de Wagt, nutrition chief for UNICEF in Nigeria. He said children already are dying but donors are not responding.

Most severely malnourished children die of secondary illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory infections, de Wagt told The Associated Press. “But with famine, you actually die of hunger,” and that is what is happening, he said.

Severe malnutrition is being found in 20, 30 and even 50 percent of children in pockets of the region, he said.

“Globally, you just don’t see this. You have to go back to places like Somalia five years ago to see these kinds of levels,” de Wagt said. Nearly 260,000 people died in Somalia between 2010 and 2012 from severe drought aggravated by war. At the time, the United Nations said aid needed to be provided more quickly.

UNICEF on Thursday doubled the amount of its appeal for Nigeria, saying $115 million is needed to save children whose “lives are literally hanging by a thread.” Only $24 million has been raised so far, the agency said.

The lack of money has meant some 750,000 people living in accessible areas could not be helped this year, spokeswoman Doune Porter told the AP.

Most of the estimated 2.6 million people who fled Boko Haram’s insurgency are subsistence farmers who have been unable to plant for two years or more.

Nigeria Minister of Budget and National Planning Sen. Udoma Udo-Udoma

Several thousand people returned this month from refugee camps to towns being secured by Nigeria’s military, but it’s too late to plant as the rainy season draws to an end. Meanwhile, Boko Haram still attacks outside urban areas.

Of 4 million people in desperate need of food are about 2.2 million people trapped in areas where Boko Haram is operating or in newly liberated areas that still are too dangerous to reach by road, de Wagt said. Among them, 65,000 are living in famine-like conditions.

The crisis has reached “catastrophic levels” for people who have sought refuge in towns controlled by the military but who are “entirely reliant on outside aid that does not reach them,” aid group Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday.

“Many families are only able to eat once every few days and usually only watered-down porridge,” said Oxfam aid group spokeswoman Christina Corbett. “They are going to bed hungry and waking up with no way to change that.”

Why Nigerian economy is in trouble - Buhari

 Nigeria’s President Buhari


UNICEF limited its outreach to the region after Boko Haram fighters attacked a military-escorted humanitarian convoy in July, wounding a UNICEF worker and others when a rocket hit an armored car.

But de Wagt said the agency continues to deliver some therapeutic food by helicopter and to train local health workers to treat malnourished children living in dangerous areas.

Doctors Without Borders, also known by the French acronym MSF, said the highest levels of starving children are in camps in Maiduguri, the northeastern city free of conflict where aid workers have been active for two years.

“The mortality rate is five times higher than what is considered an emergency, with the main cause being hunger,” it said in its statement.

The Associated Press has reported recent allegations by displaced people and aid workers that food aid is being stolen in Maiduguri. Nigeria’s government has said it would investigate.

MSF said Nigerian authorities are responsible for ensuring aid is delivered and described the overall aid response as “massively insufficient, uncoordinated and ill-adapted.”

Muhammad Kanar, the area coordinator for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, denied there is even one case of malnutrition in Maiduguri. Some officials from his agency, which manages the camps, are among several accused of stealing food aid.


Associated Press writer Haruna Umar contributed to this report from Maiduguri, Nigeria.


Boko Haram destroys Nigerian military base; Military base was burned down,107 troops MIA

December 1, 2015

YOLA — Boko Haram destroyed a Nigerian military base as soldiers fled and only self-defense fighters prevented the insurgents from retaking a northeastern town, residents said Monday.

The civilian fighters held Gulak town after soldiers ran away Sunday night until the military sent reinforcements who fought off the extremists, former council chairman James Ularamu told The Associated Press.

The military base was burned down, said Ularamu.

Boko Haram troops in Nigeria

Sunday night’s attack came as a military intelligence officer confirmed that 107 soldiers remain missing nearly two weeks after a Nov. 19 battle. The attackers drove off with an army T-72 tank and dozens of new camouflage uniforms, according to the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the issue.

Nigeria’s military has denied dozens of soldiers are missing.

Premium Times newspaper first reported the soldiers from the 157 Battalion, including their commanding officer, were missing in action along with the tank, three artillery guns and eight trucks including one carrying 60,000 rounds of ammunition.

The military has reported that it destroyed dozens of Boko Haram camps and freed more than 1,000 kidnap victims in recent weeks. But Boko Haram has stepped up the tempo and range of its attacks, with raids and suicide bombings in the past week in Niger, Cameroon and northern Nigeria.

Early Sunday the extremists kidnapped dozens of girls and set ablaze hundreds of buildings in Bam in Borno state, said resident Mallam Ali.

The setbacks come as Nigeria’s government admitted it cannot crush by December the 6-year uprising that has killed some 20,000 people.


Premium Times newspaper first reported the soldiers from the 157 Battalion, including their commanding officer, were missing in action along with the tank, three artillery guns and eight trucks including one carrying 60,000 rounds of ammunition.

The military has reported that it destroyed dozens of Boko Haram camps and freed more than 1,000 kidnap victims in recent weeks. But Boko Haram has stepped up the tempo and range of its attacks, with raids and suicide bombings in the past week in Niger, Cameroon and northern Nigeria.

Early Sunday the extremists kidnapped dozens of girls and set ablaze hundreds of buildings in Bam in Borno state, said resident Mallam Ali.

The setbacks come as Nigeria’s government admitted it cannot crush by December the 6-year uprising that has killed some 20,000 people.

Boko Haram retakes border town from Nigerian army

April 25, 2015

More than 2,000 Islamist fighters – armed with bombs and tanks – take back control of Marte

Nigerien special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa

Nigerien special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa
Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have forced hundreds of soldiers to flee the Marte, a border town in Nigeria, a local official and witnesses said Friday.

“The terrorists, numbering over 2,000, appeared from various directions on Thursday and engaged the soldiers in Kirenowa town and adjoining communities in Marte,” said Imamu Habeeb, a local community leader.

“They fought with soldiers over the night and the fight continued today (Friday), forcing hundreds of soldiers to flee,” he added from Borno state capital Maiduguri.

Local fighter Shehu Dan Baiwa said the more than 2,000 fighters had been armed with bombs and tanks. “They used the weapons without restraint and succeeded in killing several people,” he said.

This is the third time Boko Haram has seized control of Marte in restive Borno state, a key battleground of their six-year insurgency, which has killed more than 13,000 and left 1.5 million homeless.

The city is among several retaken in recent weeks by Nigeria’s military, which has launched an offensive against the Islamists as part of a regional operation supported by Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

But Boko Haram have been fighting back, and Nigerian troops were also forced to retreat from Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold this week after a landmine blast killed one soldier and three vigilantes.

A senior local politician confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the insurgents had retaken Marte.

“We lost many (people) because some of our people that fled to Chad and Cameroon have return after Nigerian troops recovered the town recently,” he added.

A senior military official confirmed the attack on Marte, but refused to say whether Boko Haram had retaken the town, describing the army’s retreat as “strategic”.

Nigeria’s abducted schoolgirls: President to visit Chibok, Head to Paris for summit convened by French President Francois Hollande

May 16, 2014


Nigerian policemen walk past Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state (21 April 2014)
The kidnapping of the schoolgirls from Chibok has outraged the international community

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan will on Friday visit the north-eastern town where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted, officials have said.

Nothing was seen of the girls for almost a month after they were taken from Chibok by Boko Haram militants.

But on Monday the group released a video showing more than 100 of them and offering an exchange for prisoners.

The president has come under pressure over his government’s failure to rescue the girls, but has ruled out a swap.

On Thursday, relatives of the girls called for their unconditional release.

But the UK’s Africa Minister Mark Simmonds said Mr Jonathan had “made it very clear that there will be no negotiation” at a meeting on Wednesday.

Screen grab of video released by Boko Haram showing abducted Nigerian schoolgirls (12 May 2014)
A video emerged on Monday showing about 130 of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting Koranic verses

After visiting Chibok, President Jonathan will continue to Paris to take part in a summit convened by French President Francois Hollande to discuss Boko Haram.

The presidents of Nigeria’s neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad – are scheduled to attend the summit on Saturday, which will also include representatives from the UK, US and EU.

A statement said delegates at the meeting will “discuss fresh strategies for dealing with the security threat posed by Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in west and Central Africa”.

‘Troubling atrocities’

Meanwhile, US officials on Thursday criticised the speed of Nigeria’s response to the threat from Boko Haram.

Alice Friend, director for African affairs at the US defence department, said its security forces had been “slow to adapt with new strategies and new tactics”.

John Simpson assesses the threat of Boko Haram

She also said the US was unable to offer aid to Nigeria’s military because of “troubling” atrocities perpetrated by some units during operations against Boko Haram.

“We cannot ignore that Nigeria can be an extremely challenging partner to work with,” Ms Friend said.

State of emergency

US drones and surveillance aircraft have been deployed to assist in the search for the schoolgirls, while the UK has sent a military team to the capital, Abuja, to work alongside US, French and Israeli experts.

The lower house of Nigeria’s parliament, the House of Representatives, approved an extension of the state of emergency in the north-east states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa on Thursday.

Nigerian soldiers on patrol in the north of Borno state - 5 June 2013
A US official said its cooperation with Nigeria’s army was limited by its links to “troubing” atrocities

President Jonathan had requested a six-month extension, calling the security situation in the region “daunting” and saying he was concerned by the mounting loss of life among civilians.

The state of emergency, which still needs to be approved by the Senate, gives the military widespread powers such as detaining suspects, imposing curfews and setting up roadblocks.

On Thursday, there have been reports of fresh attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in Borno state.

A witness told the BBC’s Hausa Service that there had been explosions in Gamboru Ngala, were some 300 people were killed last week in a massacre blamed on Boko Haram.


Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan will today visit the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamic militants, as he faces mounting international criticism of his handling of the crisis.

Accompanied by heavily armed guards, Mr Jonathan will make the journey to Chibok in Borno state – the heartland of the Boko Haram militant group – and meet some of the girls’ families.

Afterwards he is due to fly to Paris for a security summit to discuss the Boko Haram threat.

Mr Jonathan and his government have been widely criticised for their slow response to the kidnapping on April 14, which saw 276 girls abducted by militants. A total of 223 are still missing.

But they were forced to act in the face of a social media campaign and street protests that won global support and attracted the attention of foreign powers, who have now sent specialist teams to help in the rescue effort.

In the US, which has sent drones and surveillance aircraft, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said Nigeria had been “tragically and unacceptably slow” to tackle the crisis.

“I have called on President (Goodluck) Jonathan to demonstrate the leadership his nation is demanding,” Democratic senator Robert Menendez said.

Goodluck Jonathan speaks during a session at World Economic Forum in Davos
Mr Jonathan has come under fire for his response to the crisis

Department of Defence official Alice Friend said Nigeria, which has previously resisted outside help to put down the five-year insurgency, could be “an extremely challenging partner to work with”.

“In the face of this sophisticated threat, Nigeria’s security forces have been slow to adapt with new strategies and new tactics,” she added.

Mr Jonathan has ruled out a prisoner swap with the extremists after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau mooted the possibility in a video showing the kidnapped schoolgirls released on Monday.

But the government said it remained open to wider talks on ending the insurgency, Britain’s minister for Africa Mark Simmonds told reporters in Abuja after meeting Mr Jonathan on Wednesday.

Relatives of the missing girls have called for their unconditional release.

“For me, I want these girls released without any negotiations,” said Ayuba Chibok, whose niece is among the hostages.

“Even if Boko Haram wants to request something from the government, let them request something else. Let (Shekau) release these girls unconditionally.”