Thursday last week, the nineteen governors of Nigeria’s northern states and the Ministers of Police and Defence met with Vice President Namadi Sambo and National Security Adviser Owoye Azazi to attempt a definition of Boko Haram for the first time in two years.
The governor of Niger state, Babangida Aliyu, led the northern governors’ pack. After the meeting, he met with the press to discuss the Boko Haram sect, which has killed at least 935 Nigerians since their first attack in July 2009.
“Fundamentally what we discovered is that what they want is possible division of the country. We understand they do not understand the constitution of Nigeria. Like any terrorist, their effort is to create a situation where people will react so that they achieve their objective,” Mr. Aliyu said.
“What we understand is that most of them were trained outside the countries like Yemen and other places. We are dealing with well-trained group of people but they are not many by the understanding of the intelligence community.
“We understand they are well funded if not necessarily from Nigerians and they are linked with Al Qaeda and co so, we must go an extra mile to do other things”.
“I am not aware of that (Boko Haram is funded by some northern governors who sat in the meeting) yet. We read something like that but no proof has been given. And I think we all denied it until a proof is given, I don’t think any governor in his right sense will fund such an organisation because at the end of the day it is a self-defeating approach. I don’t believe what has been written unless somebody follows up to proof; we will not be able to say anything on that,” the Niger State governor said.
Since July 2009 when Boko Haram launched its violent attacks, it has claimed responsibility for bombing churches, police stations, military facilities, banks, and beer parlors, in northern Nigeria, as well as the United Nations building and police headquarters in Abuja.
Suspected Boko Haram members, often riding motorcycles and carrying Kalashnikov rifles under their robes, have gunned down numerous Christian worshipers, police officers, and soldiers, and assassinated local politicians, community leaders, and Islamic clerics who oppose their ideology.
The group, originally known by Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, carried out increasingly deadly attacks, including suicide bombings, which killed at least 550 people in 115 separate attacks in 2011, a Human Rights Watch report said.
“In the first three weeks of January 2012 alone, more than 253 people have been killed in 21 separate attacks,” the rights group said.
But after each attack, the government kept saying they are “on top of the situation,” with threats to bring the “perpetrators to justice.”
The federal government has also taken several measures, including the declaration of emergency rule in some parts of the north at the end of 2011, but attacks gets deadlier and the sect more brazen.