ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is Nigeria Falling Apart?

Nigeria, suddenly the cynosure of international attention following the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram, seems to be "on the thin edge of the knife". Will it survive the persistent terrorist attacks and the resultant public fear and insecurity?

On 14 April, 276 high school girls aged between 16 and 18 years were kidnapped from the Nigerian government’s secondary school hostels at Chibok, Maiduguri, Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria, by the Boko Haram (BH). On 6 May, another eight to 10 girls were kidnapped by 20 gunmen of the BH again from Borno state. This occurred despite Nigerian President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan having declared a state of emergency in the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe which are strongholds of the BH, an Islamist terrorist organisation in May 2013. On the morning of 15 April, when many Nigerians were heading for work, a bomb blast occurred at a crowded bus station in Nyanya, on the outskirts of Abuja, the nation’s capital city. It was the bloodiest since the August 2011 bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja. Yet again, two weeks later, another bomb explosion occurred in the vicinity of Nyanya. Both incidents resulted in massive loss of lives and damage to property. The BH claimed responsibility for these bombings. The BH does not target only women and girls as believed by many. In July 2013, it burnt alive 59 boys in Adamawa. In March this year, it killed 40 boys in Yobe state for attending non-Islamic schools. One survivor recalled how the BH raided hospitals to confiscate all available medical supplies. Its targets are not merely government-aided educational institutions; it has attacked private schools as well.

The BH usually targets locations where people gather in numbers – markets, churches, mosques, educational institutions. They admit that their intention is to terrorise and not always to kill people. Quite often there have been advance warnings which have been overlooked. According to the Al Jazeera news channel and Amnesty International, the army was in fact intimated about the impending kidnappings in April this year and advised to call for additional reinforcements since security in the school premises was scant. Just before midnight on that fateful day, the school was attacked by 200 heavily armed BH men. The girls were abducted in 10 waiting trucks and driven off to the dense Sambisa forest which is thrice the size of Wales. Before leaving the BH gutted all the school’s classrooms. Could this tragedy not have been averted?

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