The many ‘defeats’ of Boko Haram

At the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly thanked the king of Jordan for donating military hardware to his country to fight Boko Haram –  the insurgent group whose violent campaign started in 2009.  For the same reason, he is also said to have thanked US President Donald Trump for selling long sought after military aircraft to Nigeria.

Before, Buhari, his aides and officials in the military hierarchy claimed that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated,” “largely defeated,” and the “war largely won.”

Africa Check has time and again fact-checked claims that Boko Haram no longer occupy territory in Nigeria. Is the terrorist group finally on its deathbed?

What is the official version?

Date Who said it? What did they say?
16/03/2015 Pres Muhammadu Buhari “I will not lie to you or exaggerate our triumphs.  My administration will be thoroughly transparent in every step of our daily struggle and together we will win the war.”
24/12/2015 Pres Muhammadu Buhari “Boko Haram has reverted to using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but articulated conventional attacks on centres of communication and populations… they are no longer capable of doing that effectively. So I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhoods.”
05/o2/2016 Pres Muhammadu Buhari “My own description is that they can no longer mobilise enough forces to attack police and army barracks and destroy aircraft like they used to do. They can no longer do that.”
24/02/2016 Army chief Tukur Buratai “We were given three major tasks and we have made efforts toward achieving two. The first task is to defeat Boko Haram and I want to tell you that as at today Boko Haram has been defeated. When I say defeat, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be hitches here and there. We have entered the mop-up stage of our operation.”
24/12/2016 Pres Muhammadu Buhari “I want to use this opportunity to commend the determination, courage and resilience of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at ‘Camp Zero’, which is located deep within the heart of Sambisa Forest.”
24/12/2016 Pres Muhammadu Buhari “I also want to congratulate and commend the able leadership of the Nigerian Army in particular and indeed, that of the Armed Forces in general, for making this possible. This, no doubt, will go a long way in improving the security situation not only in the North East, but the country in general.  But we must not let our guards down.”
17/01/2017 Defence minister Mansur Dan Ali “Camp Zero is the spiritual headquarters of Boko Haram, it doesn’t mean when you capture that all of them will disappear but it is significant because it was thought that the place was impregnable.”
16/09/2017 Foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama “The Boko Haram crushing was used in a context. Before President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration came into power, Boko Haram captured territories. Boko Haram was an existential threat. But today, they are no longer holding any territory; they now only engage in soft targets.”

 

‘If degraded, why are they killing people?’

A day before Buhari’s address to the UN General Assembly, Boko Haram is reported to have killed 12 people and injured 26 others in an attack on a community 36 km from the capital of Borno State, Maiduguri. The next day, Nigerian troops fought suspected Boko Haram fighters in the militants’ known hold-out of Sambisa Forest, which authorities have in recent months declared taken.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has warned that the group’s onslaught – especially suicide bombings – has increased in some parts of the north.

While the government has made significant strides in the war against Boko Haram, the group remains a significant threat. This is according to Ukoji Vitus, assistant coordinator of Nigeria Watch, a security research arm of the French Institute of Research in Africa.

Nigeria Watch draws its information from analysing multiple alternative sources, including the media, human rights organisations and federal security agencies.

“Boko Haram is a still a real threat from what we see on the ground. If the government claims it has squashed or degraded Boko Haram, why are they still killing people? [We log a Boko Haram incident] every two or three days,” he told Africa Check. – David Ajikobi (26/09/2017)

 

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