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Ensure that under my watch no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil

At the peak of their powers in 2014, the Boko Haram militant group captured several towns in northeastern Nigeria. Their success became an election issue ahead of 2015 elections.

A military campaign by the previous administration just weeks before the elections helped dislodge the group from its strongholds, allowing for the holding of polls in liberated towns.

As early as December 2015, Buhari’s administration announced that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated”. But by May 2018 the government had changed this to “degraded”

Attacks in 2018, including the abduction of over 100 schoolgirls in March, suggested the Islamist group remained a force. However, they are not reported to have seized any other town since Buhari became president in 2015, though there have been reports that they have imposed their rule in some areas.

Despite the efforts of the army, Boko Haram still attacked communities and abducted and executed people in 2020. The security situation deteriorated significantly in Nigeria in late 2020 and early 2021.

Some state governors have openly said that parts of the country have been taken over by non-state actors. For example, Niger governor Abubakar Sani-Bello said in April 2021 that Boko Haram and other bandits controlled at least 50 communities in the state.

As of May 2022, armed groups continued to terrorise communities, killing and kidnapping people in their hundreds. The fight against terrorists – and several other conflicts – continued to occupy Buhari’s administration.

‘You cannot give a timeline’

As we first reported in September 2017, Boko Haramis yet to be snuffed out. And a splinter faction, the Islamic State's West Africa Province, has surpassed it. They have also reportedly formed a pseudo-government, collecting taxes in some parts of the northeast of the country.

Mike Ejiofor, a security consultant, previously told Africa Check that fighting the insurgency was “an asymmetric war”. 

“You cannot give a timeline to it. Many countries have fought insurgency and terrorism for several years. North Ireland fought it for over 26 years; Pakistan, Iraq and Iran are still fighting [it],” Ejiofor said. He is a former director of the department of state security.  

– Africa Check, updated May 2022. First tracked in 2018, and reviewed in 2020.

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