Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The next Boko Haram? Nigerian attacks raise fears of new 'terror' threat

A woman in Benue State, north-central Nigeria. More than 80 people have been killed in the region in recent clashes.
A woman in Benue State, north-central Nigeria. More than 80 people have been killed in the region in recent clashes. Photograph: Emmanuel Arewa/AFP/Getty Images
More than 80 people are thought to have been killed in a series of brutal attacks in Benue State in central Nigeria, which locals say were perpetrated by groups of nomadic herdsmen.#

Although northern herdsmen have fought with locals over land and grazing rights for decades, what was a low-level conflict has recently spiralled into a full-blown crisis, leading to claims the men are “the new Boko Haram”.

On Monday #Benuemassacre began trending on social media on Monday as Nigerians criticised the government’s delayed response to the escalating conflict.
Reliable statistics on the total number of people killed are scarce, but according to the Global Terrorism Index, 1,200 people were killed in 2014 by herdsmen, and in 2015 the Index claimed they were “the fourth deadliest terror group in the world”.

But according to locals in Kogi, central Nigeria, the state’s new commercial airport was built on land previously used by herdsmen for cattle grazing. Across Nigeria, growing urbanisation, new infrastructure and the rising value of land has made life harder for nomadic groups.

Sola Tayo, an associate fellow at Chatham House, says the characterisation of the herdsmen as militants obscures the abuses they also face. “Media reports largely focus on attacks carried out by herdsmen. What is not so widely reported are claims from herdsmen of attacks again them and their communities.

“The current media narrative is of largely Christian settler communities being attacked by rampaging Muslim herdsmen, which is leading to further mistrust and division.”
Sanusi Baffa, chairman of an association of more than 300 Fulani herdsmen in the northern state of Kano, agrees that land scarcity is at the heart of the conflict, not politics or religion. “Since the commonwealth era, herdsmen had their own designated land to graze their cattle. But now much of that land has been taken over by politicians and the government,” he said.

He disputes the characterisation that the herdsmen are the aggressors. “Most of the affected people are the nomads. Our cattle is regularly stolen and killed. We are being persecuted even more because our land is restricted and the government have created this crisis for us.”

Women mourn after Fulani herdsmen attack the village of Jos in Nigeria’s south.
Women mourn after Fulani herdsmen attack the village of Jos in Nigeria’s south. Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Headlines such as “Fulani Militants are more dangerous than Boko Haram” have further framed the herdsmen as an organised, political group.
Matthew Page, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an analyst on Nigeria for the US State Department, says this designation is widely disputed by Nigeria experts.

“It unhelpfully labels one of west Africa’s largest ethnic groups as ‘terrorist’ based on the criminal acts of some Nigeria-based armed herdsmen. The heinous nature of several of the worst attacks have given domestic media outlets license to portray them as murderers and terrorists,” he said.

While the widespread comparisons to Boko Haram are in part a reflection of the intensity of the conflict, it also plays on the prejudices held in the predominantly Christian south about the northern Muslim regions.

“Terminate their lives! Anywhere you find a cow that is grazing on our ways… we will take them out… Enough of this political herdsmen operating as herdsmen but are Boko Haram, they are coming into south-west gradually, we are going to fight you.”

In Anambra, governor Willie Obianno has commissioned aerial surveillance to keep track of the herdsmen’s movements, while in Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has launched an inquiry to establish the causes behind the attacks.

But in a climate where ethnic sensitivities are heightening, and as the Nigerian economy continues to struggle, the challenge to find a peaceful resolution is becoming increasingly difficult.

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Analysis Buhari's crackdown in Nigeria fails to stamp out Boko Haram

A year ago at his inauguration the president promised to eliminate the terror group, still classed as one of the world’s most deadly.           

Time is up for Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president and former army general, who promised before his inauguration on 29 May last year to stamp out Boko Haram within 12 months – and has singularly failed to do so, despite a tough military crackdown in the country’s north-east.

While the terrorist group, blamed for 20,000 deaths over the past seven years, has taken a beating, it is down but not out. Analysts warn, meanwhile, that Buhari’s harsh approach to unrest of any kind may be causing more problems than it solves across Nigeria as a whole.

At a summit in Abuja earlier this month, Buhari appeared to admit the difficulty of fulfilling the task he set himself. The meeting included representatives from Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. France, the US, Britain and the EU, who back the anti-Boko Haram campaign, also attended.

Despite increased support from London and Washington, which have each sent about 300 troops to the region in a training and advisory capacity, Buhari’s aim was yet closer military cooperation via an expanded international effort.

“I believe Buhari is acknowledging ... that it is not easy for the military to just go out there and eliminate Boko Haram,” Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies told al-Jazeera. “The rural areas have always been neglected when it comes to security and that has always been the problem – the ungoverned places.”

Nigerian army offensives have won back territory from Boko Haram in the past year, and the number and frequency of terrorist attacks has fallen significantly.

Last year’s dramatic announcement by Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, that he was entering into an alliance with Islamic State appears to have been a propaganda stunt amounting to little in practical terms.

Yet when one of the 276 Chibok schoolgirl hostages abducted in 2014, Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki, was rescued earlier this month, Buhari made great play of it, having her flown to meet him in Abuja. The fuss looked like a slightly desperate bid to deflect attention from the fact the other girls remain unaccounted for.

Also contradicting the official “winning” narrative is evidence that faced by more determined military pressure, Boko Haram is resorting to wider use of suicide bombings, carried out by women and children, and increased attrition, including more hostage-taking.

According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, a survey by the New York-based Institute for Economics and Peace, Boko Haram remains the most deadly terrorist group in the world.
And there are growing fears that, evolving in parallel to the internationalisation of the counter-terrorism campaign, a once localised hardline Islamist movement is morphing into a regional jihadist threat.
The disastrous economic and social legacy of Boko Haram’s depredations, and a linked, ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad basin, has brought calls for Buhari to adopt a more constructive approach extending beyond crude military suppression tactics.

Amnesty International claimed recently that the Nigerian army, notorious for past human rights abuses, had killed 350 Muslim civilians in northern Kaduna state and secretly buried them in a mass grave.
In a statement linked to the Abuja summit, the UN security council urged regional states to pursue “a comprehensive strategy to address the governance, security, development, socio-economic and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis”.

The independent Brussels-based International Crisis Group said Boko Haram was “seemingly on a back foot, but it is unlikely to be eliminated in a decisive battle”. Regional powers should “move beyond military cooperation and design a more holistic local and regional response”.

In particular, the ICG said, Nigeria and its allies should more effectively collate and exploit information gathered from captured fighters, abductees, defectors and civilians in newly recaptured areas.

Nnamdi Obasi, the ICG’s senior analyst for Nigeria, warned that Buhari’s tough approach was having a negative knock-on effect in other Nigerian trouble spots. He pointed in particular to the south-east, where Igbo secessionist groups are demanding the restoration of the ill-fated republic of Biafra.

Nigeria’s Middle Belt has seen increasing levels of violence between local communities, while the 2009 peace deal that ended the insurgency in the oil-rich Niger Delta is unravelling, Obasi said. Up-and-coming militant groups included the so-called Niger Delta Avengers and the Egbesu Mightier Fraternity.

Peaceful manifestations of unrest had been met with harsh measures, including arbitrary arrests.
“Both groups have sent the government their lists of demands, mostly for local control of oil revenues, threatening even more crippling attacks if they are ignored. The government’s response – deploying more military assets and threatening an unmitigated crackdown – portends an escalation of the violence,” Obasi said.

Insecurity and social tension is being aggravated across Nigeria by its deteriorating economic situation, a 70% year-on-year devaluation of the national currency, the naira, fuel and power shortages, rising unemployment and continuing problems with endemic corruption, the ICG said.

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Neyo's and Crystal's love is a reality

They first met during a business dinner. Crystal was two hours late. She was doing a bit of research on Ne-Yo.
The Grammy-winning singer had been single for about a year and half. Having written hit singles for himself like “Closer,” “Mad” and “Miss Independent,” he was enjoying the single man experience 'until [he] met the pretty, little pistol’ that is Crystal Renay. Crystal Renay (successful in her own right) as a model, actress and multiplatform host had been single for about three years and was just minding her magical girl business when Ne-Yo came along.

The business meeting went well, but the two of them were still just friends who kept in touch. After a while, though, Crystal and Ne-Yo both realized that neither one of them were going anywhere and their friendship blossomed into a romantic relationship.

Ne-Yo proposed twice. The first time Ne-Yo proposed, he had a dream the night before. The couple talked about the dream. Ne-Yo wanted to marry Crystal. He didn’t want to lose her. Apparently the dream had frightened him into admitting his love for her. She said, “OK, well then propose.” However, Ne-Yo didn’t have a ring. “I don’t need a ring,” Crystal said.

The second time Ne-Yo proposed was on Crystal’s birthday. “The whole day went by. He didn’t give me a flower, a card or anything. I was mad,” Crystal recalls. Ne-Yo did, however, make sure that Crystal was with her family for a trip to Orlando, Florida, which she appreciated. At the end of the night, the jewellery guy’s assistant brought Ne-Yo the engagement ring in front of Crystal’s family and he proposed again.
Two proposals and years of love later, Crystal and Ne-Yo got married.


One Proverbs a day keeps Foolishness away

Think carefully about the paths that your feet walk on.
Always choose the right ways.

Image result for wise decision
 Why don't you pause this morning to think carefully about the decisions that you have made.

Are you going to make a wise decision that will affect your future and produce good things or would it be the other way round.

What path are you in now? what is it that you want to accomplish today at work, home, school, family and business or even much more.

Think carefully because it is your feet that will walk in those paths.