1.1 Background to the Study
An insurgency is known to be an armed rebellion against law enforcement or an authority.
Usually, insurgency arises whenever a group of dissatisfied persons decides to stage an armed
attack against the government of a country. As such, recruitment for insurgency becomes very
easy since the common indicator of an insurgent is dissatisfaction with governmental policies,
which thus feed into finding outlets for the seething grievances. This translates to the fact that the
justification for engagement in uprisings against the government is that such is a fight for a just
cause that might be beneficial to their country in years ahead.
An instance of insurgency is the Communist insurgent group in the Philippines, traceable to the
early 19th century, precisely 1968 and still exists till date. It has outlasted martial law and four
democratically elected governments. Despite what many consider as anachronistic ideology, the
insurgency has endured, because many of its criticisms like income inequality, human rights
abuses and broader social injustice still resonate with some Filipinos. Equally, since the 1960s,
the Southern region of Thailand experienced the same dimension of insurgency challenges as the
Philippines, and this is still ongoing.
It started as an ethnic conflict, involving 4 provinces- Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.
Since onset, the insurgents have become increasingly violent. The insurgency formed from these
four provinces was ruthless and sees no reason for negotiating either with the government or
with other insurgent groups. Thai analysts believed that foreign Islamic terrorist groups were
infiltrating the area and that foreign funds and arms were being brought into the country; this has
served as both the major cause and driver of insurgency in Southern Thailand. The United
Kingdom has also had its fair share of insurgency. The Jewish insurgency in Palestine dates back
to 1939-1948 at the British Mandatory Palestine. It occurred as a result of violent campaigns
carried out by Jewish underground groups against the British forces and officials which led to the
death of dozens of British soldiers, Jewish militants and civilians.
Insurgency in Nigeria can be dated far back to 20th November 1999 and is still existing till date
and it is stronger than it has ever been before. It‟s concentrated in the Northern states of Nigeria
but most prominent in Borno state. Looking back at the history of Nigeria, there has not been any
serious and intense insurgent group which led to death of over 1500 people since it started.
Although there were crisis and conflict among ethnic groups, nothing made headlines like the
Boko Haram insurgent group in Nigeria.
Before we go into proper analysis of the activities, aims and movement of the terrorist group, we
have to have an idea of the word „terrorism‟. Terrorism is gotten from the root word „terror‟
which simply means instilling fear into people. It‟s usually random and unpredictable. The
practice of terrorism can be traced back to 1st century AD Sicarri Zealouts who got their name
from hiding sicae or small daggers in their cloaks in order to kill Romans who offended them
publicly. Since then, every country has had its fair share of terrorists whose sole aim is
international recognition or causing fear and havoc in the state. Various terror attacks include
bombings, car attacks, kidnapping, arson or hijacking a commercial aircraft.
Boko Haram simply means education/westernization is forbidden. It‟s officially called Jama‟atu
Ahlis Sunna Lidda‟Awati Wal-Jihad meaning people committed to Prophet Mohammad‟s
teachings. Boko haram stands for outright rejection and total unacceptance of any laws that are
not Islamic. They greatly frown at Western culture, Western education and modern science. They
want strict Islamic laws to prevail in Nigeria in its purest and most impeccable form. Hence, they
believe they are doing the country a favor by killing and destroying „infidels‟ and people who do
not believe in Allah. They believe they are fighting a Holy war. Yusuf Bala Usman (1979)
The intermediary bourgeois (the ruling elite) cannot claim political leadership openly on the grounds that
he is, or wants to be an exporter, shareholder, reinter or rich bureaucrat. He has to take over as an Ibo,
Hausa, Idoma or Efik… the manipulation of religion in Nigeria today is essentially a means of creating the
context for this fancy dress ball, for this charade of disguises.
Ever since the Usman Dan Fodio jihad in the early 18th century, Northern Nigeria has always
been a highly sensitive ground for religious activism because they at that time refused to separate
religion from politics (Ajayi 1990:55-65). Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 founded the Boko Haram
group in Maiduguri, Borno state although there were speculations that the group had been
existing since 1995. Boko Haram sees Western education and democracy as corruptive and
immoral. Their main targets are non-muslims whom they also refer to as infidels. They have a
certain ideology which is based on their religion that anyone who does not worship Allah and
abide by the sharia law, should be killed.
They believe strongly that they are on a mission, a holy war which they call it, to eradicate nonbelievers of Allah. They kill people who engage in practices that are un-Islamic such as adultery
and drinking alcohol. Mohammed Yusuf, the father of the insurgent group in an interview with
BBC in 2009 said „…like rain, we believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation
caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain. Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs
contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism…‟
Darwinism was founded by Charles Darwin and it states that all species grow and develop
through natural selection of variations that increase the individual‟s ability to survive and
reproduce. Yusuf was said to have condemned the reading of books other than the Quaran.
Some Scholars maintain that boko haram is an outgrowth of the Maitatsine movement in early
1980s whose main goal was the purification and strict adherence to Islam (Adesoji, 2011). The
Maitatsine sector evolved to confront the pretentious ruling elites through several religious
uprisings (Oyovbaire, 1980: 20-22). The Maitatsine was led by an immigrant, Alhaji Maitatsine
and it consisted of various religious fanatics. They were well known for assaults and murder of
both the rich and the poor and anyone who does not conform to the teachings of the Quaran. This
occurred in Northern states such as Sokoto, Kano and later Borno. Boko haram drew its roots
from the Maitatsine group and followed their objectives but their organizational structure is more
in line with the Taliban (Danyibo, 2009) .By 2009, there we increased fights between the group
and the police which led to the arrest of Yusuf as well as other fighters. In what was called
In the first seven years of operation, the insurgent group was said to be rather peaceful and also
redrawing themselves from society, hereby moving into the north-eastern areas. According to
former boko haram leader, he claimed they were attacking the police because they killed their
brothers. He claimed the reason for their retaliation was the fact that Muslims in Nigeria were
being killed and the authorities were doing nothing about it. He also emphasized his hatred for
the political system in the country and swore that more blood will be shed if nothing is done
It has been established after wide research that Boko haram is linked with the Al-Qaeda in
Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which usually assist newly recruits in weapon handling, use of
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and combat training. Fingers have also been pointed at
some prominent politicians in the North for being sympathizers of the group but till date, no hard
fact has proven this.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
In taking a critical look at the insurgent group, there are a number of problems that caused the
insurgency. Before the boko haram came into existence, Nigeria had recorded no act of
terrorism. And aside the experience of the Maitatsine‟s insurgency in 1984/85 and militancy in
the oil laden Niger Delta between the close of last century and the start of the 21st century, the
country did not witness any form of insurgent attack within its confines. Although people had
their varying perspectives of the government and the system alike, there was never any case of
any group getting furious to the extent of engaging in arson, kidnapping or carnage.
The attacks by the boko haram operatives are highly convoluted, hence the difficulty the military
are experiencing in combatting the insurgent group; and more so, in pre-empting their next line
of action. On this basis, the multi-pronged attack of the Boko Haram has negatively impacted
most of the residents of the Northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe; hence, the
situation has produced a robust migrant population from the zone. It is therefore in this light that
the study focuses on the:
a. the extent of Boko Haram‟s impact on the Nigerian economy;
b. numerous impacts of the terror activities of Boko Haram on the mass of the Northeastern
c. The challenges bedeviling the Nigerian army/JTF in tackling the insurgency. The
multi-dimensional external assistance against Boko Haram.
1.3. Objective of the Study.
The broad objective of this study is to assess the boko haram insurgent group in Nigeria and the
totality of government efforts in curbing it. Other specific objectives are to;
i. examine the purposes and the approaches of the Boko Haram terror group;
ii. identify the numerous effects of Boko Haram activities on Nigeria;
iii. analyze how Nigeria is responding to the complexity of security issues engendered by
the terror group; and
iv. Investigate the challenges and limitations facing Nigeria in terms of adequately
responding to Boko Haram.
1.4. Research Questions
i. What are the purposes of the insurgent group and how can they be managed?
ii. What are the general effects of the Boko Haram insurgent group on Nigeria as a
iii. How has terrorism changed he attitude of Nigerians against each other and how does
religion play a major role in the insurgency?
iv. What challenges are the Nigerian army and intelligence agencies facing in tackling
the insurgent group?
1.5. Research Hypothesis
The hypothesis on which this study is based is stated in the null and alternative form as follows;
i. H0; Boko Haram has not affected every sector of the Nigerian economy
H1; Boko Haram has affected every sector of the Nigerian economy
ii. H0; terrorism has not changed the attitude and living conditions of Nigerian citizens
H1; terrorism has changed the attitude and living conditions of Nigerian citizens
iii. H0; there are no challenges faced by the Nigerian army as well as the Nigerian
H1; there are challenges faced by the Nigerian army as well as the Nigerian
1.6. Significance of the Study
This study is of immense relevance to Nigerian citizens and policy makers alike. This is because
it presents a serious canvas of the untoward event of security lapse in Nigeria, and the bizarre
attacks of the terrorist group. On this note, it serves the purpose of enlightening persons who are
engaged in the understanding of terrorism, particularly within the African space where such an
occurrence is relatively low.
1.7 Scope of the study
This study focuses on the numerous activities of the Boko Haram insurgent/terror group from
2007 to 2014, the duration when the group became stronger and wanted to be known worldwide.
Indeed, the insurgent group was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf in his hometown of
Girgir, Jakusko, Yobe State, Nigeria. The group however grew robust, both in strength and
capacity, particularly towards the end of late President Yar‟dua‟s tenure and all through the reign
of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. This thus determined both the duration and focus of study.
1.8. Limitations of the Study
Despite the serious security and economic challenges that the Boko Haram sect has churned up
for the Nigerian government, particularly in the area of displaced persons, some of whom are
migrants in surrounding countries, some of government‟s responses are largely shrouded in
secrecy. This, of course, is not accidental because the security sector is a highly opaque one and
issues relating to the sector are often classified as national security.
The immediate implication of this reality for the present study is the challenge of gaining access
to useful information about some dimensions of Boko Haram‟s activities and hide-outs in a
region where government‟s business vis-a-vis the military sector as well as relations with other
governments on security matters are mostly drowned in secrecy and officialdom.
Unfortunately, also, official reluctance and secrecy is not the exclusive preserve of officials of
government. Indeed, even in those instances where some academics were formally approached
for interviews, they promptly declined, threw up insurmountable procedural bottlenecks and/or
failed to turn up on agreed dates. In other instances, they were also overly disdainful to even
allow the administration of copies of questionnaire. Nevertheless, these inhibitions were
surmounted through the extensive use of the data gathered through the administration of
questionnaire administered at the Afe Babalola University, in Ekiti.
1.9. Organization of the Study
The study is in delineated into five chapters. The background of study, statement of problem,
objectives of the study research hypotheses, significance of study are some of the relevant
sections contained in chapter one. The second chapter entails the conceptual clarification of the
study, and the theoretical framework adopted in understanding the study. Chapter three is
majorly about the methodology adopted in realizing the objectives of the study; even as the
presentation, interpretation and analysis of data collected form the focal point of the next chapter.
The last chapter presents the reader with the summary and conclusion of study; as well as the
study‟s recommendations, which thus forms the high point of the chapter.
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