“For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons” Mr. O.O. Akinlude

Mr. O.O. Akinlude is the Consular and Immigration Minister of the Embassy of Nigeria in Madrid, Spain. As a specialist in International Relations and Immigration, he has a lot of experience on issues that concern West Africa, especially on issues directly related to Nigeria.

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The Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Boko Haram due to the constant threat is  one of the main reasons why I chose a special representative in Nigeria. This group was founded in 2002 and since 2009 has provoked thousands of altercations where countries like Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali and most of Nigeria have been affected.

The first part to be analysed was the description of the current situation of Nigeria after the continuous attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as the handling of the situation by the government and economic impact to this fear in the country. His face of concern over the subject was clearly apparent. Akinlude began describing that the current situation was based on fear of any unexpected attack, stressing the complexity of anticipating the timing of these attacks. Akinlude emphasised the need for confidence and security on the part of the Nigerian population in the government but in turn empathized with the fact that it was a very complicated situation to demand that calm. He mentioned that since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the entry of arms into Libya had increased considerably, as many barriers that were previously vetoed or closed were opened due to his death.

With regard to the economic impact, he emphasised the importance of Nigeria as one of the leading countries in the oil supply, being in 2017 the second behind Mexico with higher exports (8.1 million tons). But he also criticised the fact that it can not be further developed because of the conflicts that have arisen in recent years, which have damaged Nigeria’s economy.

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Continuing with the importance of the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, in the second part of the interview the questions were related to specific topics carried out by the group in recent years, where we highlight the kidnapping of 82 girls in Chibouk (north-eastern Nigeria) and attacks of suicidal children in the last two years. The question about the abduction procedure was very necessary, as well as the role of women as the object of these attacks. Akinlude explained that 200 girls were abducted on April 14, 2014 and in October 2016, 21 of them were released thanks to the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Switzerland), but that it was not until May 7 when the news of the release of 82 of them was announced. The recruitment of combatants through kidnappings is very common by the terrorist group, especially in the border territory with Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The release of the girls, according to Akinlude, was an exchange of prisoners of war belonging to the Boko Haram group.

The use of children with the target of suicide attacks was one of the points to analyse, where Akinlude gave a figure of 117 attacks. These were the attacks carried out by minors by the terrorist group Boko Haram (80% of the bombs are caused by children). Akinlude exemplified the detonation in 2016 at the mosque in Kolofata (10 people were killed), repeating itself in 2015.

Regarding the question about the role of the woman he commented, “For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons”. This is a very harsh, cruel, and real statement of how women are treated in these war processes. Women are seen more vulnerable and able to succumb to this type of terrorist groups, seeing this weakness in the same way the children.

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The third part of the interview was based on future interventions and aid with modernised material adapted to the fight against terrorism in Nigeria to combat this group, since in December 2016 it was believed to be crushed but the attacks continued. Akinlude stresses the current attitude of Russia, which has offered to give aid until 2018 (Covenant by Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama). In addition, in this last year Cameroon has received a total of 96,000 refugees and in Diffa (north-eastern Nigeria) there are 240,000 displaced people fleeing the wars.

Finally I asked him a question about how he saw Nigeria in the future. He emphasized a small smile of hope showing the desire that this big problem, “Hell”, ends.

This interview has made me reflect on the problems that occur around us. Many times we see these problems so external to us that we do not give them the importance they have and after this interview I have felt very closed and I have been able to see the complicated situation of Nigeria more closely.

It was a pleasure to interview Mr O.O. Akinlude.

 

Andrea Centeno Pobre

 

“Welcome our girls, welcome our sisters”

Boko Haram’s constant terrorist threat in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali has provoked a multitude of deaths and controversies in the last eight years (organization founded in 2002), whose aim is to declare the establishment of the Sharia as in force norm in all the conditions of Nigeria. This organization has provoked 20.000 casualties, the displacement of 1,5 million refugees and a humanitarian crisis without precedents in the North-East of Nigeria in its eight years of insurgency.

During one of the moments of Boko Haram’s maximum territorial expansion, on April 13, 2014, members of this terrorist group were penetrating a center of Chibok’s secondary education, to the Northeast of the country, kidnapping 276 teenagers, between twelve and seventeen years of age. Of the kidnapped girls, 57 could escape of his captors, but the rest disappeared.

Now 82 of the Chibok school girls have been returned in a trade deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Government. In order to retrieve the girls, five of Boko Haram commanders have now been set free. The Chibok girls gained attention after social media erupted with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, many public figures such as former United States First Lady Michelle Obama came out in support of the movements. As of today, there are still 113 girls held captive by Boko Haram.

For the return of the girls, some parents traveled to the capital to celebrate and to be with their daughters as soon as possible, meanwhile there are still parents worried about the 113 missing girls. Integrating these girls back to society is going to be a tough task as they faced unbelievable psychical pressure and violence without any hope for freedom. Because many of them were Christians they had to convert to Islam.  It followed marriage to their captor and childbirth somewhere in the forest. The others were forced to take part in suicide missions. The UN Special Rapporteurs stressed the necessity for useful measures to address stigma and rejection of women and people associated with Boko Haram by their families and communities.

As the girls return to their homes “the president was delighted to receive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done,” said Femi Adesina. Their reintegration to the society will be supervised by government officials.

Even though President Muhammadu Buhari promised for his election to make the fight against Boko Haram and the return of the Girls his priorities it is unclear how active the terrorist group is now. Buhari late last year announced Boko Haram had been “crushed”. With the group, still in activity in Northern Nigeria and its surrounding countries Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris says, “A lot of people in Nigeria don’t believe that Boko Haram will simply release those girls after three years in captivity for nothing in return.”. This shows that even after the release of 21 girls last year and 82 now the population remains uncertain about their safety from the group and the power of the government.

Source:CNN

 

BOKO HARAM- the 11th plague of Africa

April 14th.  Midnight; 300 girls are woken up in their boarding school in the small village Chibok. A group of army-dressed men shoot their AK-47s while the group of terrified girls enters reluctantly into the Jeep trucks.

“We thought they were soldiers. They told us to get out of our hostels, saying that they had been sent to take us safety because Boko Haram was attacking the town. Suddenly they began to chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ -Allah is great- as they set the school buildings on fire. That is when we realized we were in the hands of Boko Haram” – narrates one of the girls who escaped, through a phone interview for LA times.

This is the chronicle of the massive kidnapping that took place last month in northern Nigeria. More girls were abducted during the following days. Currently, 276 girls are still missing. Nigeria’s government, with the international community’s support, claim to be doing all they can in order to rescue the minors from the merciless hands of Boko Haram.

With the latest events, the whole world has turned their eyes towards this country located in Western Africa, trying to figure out who is Boko Haram, and above all, how to stop them.

The extremist group finds its inspiration in the revivalist Islamist projects carried out in northern Nigeria during the XIX century. It was officially born in 2002 as a sect, guide by the charismatic preacher Muhammed Yusuf. The literal translation of “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sin”, which is the standard the group has been trying to impose for the last twelve years. Despite the fact that the group counts with the not-so-small number of 5000 victims in its back, the international community knows little about them. What led to their creation? How do they operate? How is the organization’s structure? Why has no one been able to stop them? And the million dollar question: who pays for all these deaths?

Abukabar Shekau, current Boko Haram leader from a youtube released in april 12,2012

Abukabar Shekau, current Boko Haram leader in a still from a video released on youtube  on april 12,2012

The kidnapping of the school girls is just the top of the ice-berg. Three months ago 50 teenagers were slaughtered in their school; some of them were burned alive. Since 2009, when the sect leader – who acted as a moderator-, was killed by Nigeria’s army, the group became more violent, bombing churches and killing politicians.

 According to a report given by IRIN to the UN, poverty and the government’s lack of interest is what have nurtured the lines of Boko Haram. At the same time, “Humans Right Watch”, proved that Nigerian army is guilty of violating human rights in its territory and the government’s corruption seems to be rampant. Otherwise, there is no logical explanation for the parsimony of resources employed to take actions towards the violent group. Moreover, scratching deeper, we found out that the group used to be financed by members of the government itself, as the former Borno state governor, Modu Sheriff. Nowadays, their income is believed to come from different extremist organizations, and from the sex-slaves-selling business, among other sources.

While the world waits powerless for better news, Nigeria continues under its living nightmare, wondering what will happen next.

Boko Haram, the fear of Nigeria.

By Blanca Ribas, Larissa Duarte Lourenço, Patricia Vlaicu, Juan Manuel Pérez, Eduardo García.

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Boko Haram is willing to create an Islamic state. Last week they have burned seven schools in Nigeria. The fear created by this radical Islamist sect is generating the flees of many citizens, which are neighbouring Niger and Chad.

This sect emerged in 2009, is an Islamist militant group, which believe in the creation of a God’s Kingdome on earth and the destruction of the secular state, their aim is, now, to make Nigeria an Islamic state.

During the last 18th months they carried out a series of deadly attacks. They burned seven schools, killed four Christians and declared war to its community. They also attacked police stations, state power symbols, burned churches and murdered hundreds of civilians, manly Christians or moderate Muslims.

The population is fleeing away to neighbouring Niger and Chad. They are living in such a frightening situation and they are afraid of what will happen. Atoo Timothy Tyover, a head of stores of Judicial Service Commission in Nigeria claims “Boko Haram is always thinking ahead of our own security. They target where there is least attention… Our security forces should take note of this strategy.” Whereas Boko Haram’s followers believe that “our strength and support is from people” ,“More attacks on the way!”  As Terrorism is new in Nigeria the security services are going to change their methods, the thing is that they cannot change their methods overnight, but the security service stated that they would do more.

The U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said on Monday that the United States will launch a consulate in the biggest northern city of Nigeria, Kano, to help Nigeria to fight against the radical Islamist sect. This plan arises as violent Islamist movements all over West Africa and there is evidence of links between Al Qaeda’s North African annex, which has bases in the Sahara and Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has become more sophisticated and deadly in its techniques during the last six months, they usually set off multiple bombs in succession or they follow the bomb attacks with shooting sprees. The majority of sects attacks occur in its base in the northeast, its hazard has gone all over the country and is becoming more dangerous.

The Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan dared the military religious sects to show themselves and to tell them clearly their objectives and their demands as a topic for discussion. While they have in mind that only military confrontation will not end this over.

“Nigerians are angry about certain things government has not been able to conclude very quickly … You cannot sentence a person without trial,” “I believe that before the end of February, I’m very hopeful, we’ll submit it to the national assembly … But of course … The president has no powers over the national assembly.” stated Goodluck Jonathan. Thus the government is trying to do their best to solve this situation and they don’t have the power to trial the sect.