Cameroon Requests Nigeria and Chad Prevent Boko Haram Border Attacks

Military vehicles of the BIR in Far Northern Cameroon 2019


“Officials in northern Cameroon have called on neighboring Chad and Nigeria to deploy additional troops to their border to counter attacks by the Islamist group.”


On 1 June, the French-language Cameroonian publication actucameroun.com reported on Cameroon’s call for its neighbors, Chad and Nigeria, to bolster troop deployments to their mutual border with Cameroon to stop attacks from Boko Haram. This came after Cameroon’s Far North region governor claimed hundreds of Boko Haram members infiltrated the Cameroonian border. According to the article, Cameroonian President Paul Biya responded to the escalating Boko Haram attacks along Cameroon’s Lake Chad shoreline by ordering an emergency meeting of military and government officials in the country’s north to develop strategies to prevent further Boko Haram incursions.

The article claims that Boko Haram attacks in northern Cameroon are increasing. The group abducted six civilians in Amchidé and shot and wounded another civilian. The attack resembled those of the late Abubakar Shekau’s faction, which is notorious for harassing civilians even more than the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-affiliated faction.[i] History suggests attacks around Lake Chad will escalate without sufficient regional coordination to counter both factions.[ii][iii] The second excerpted article in Nigeria’s premiumtimes.ng reported on 18 August a promise from Public Information Officer of the Multinational Joint Task Force. This force includes Nigerian, Cameroonian, Chadian, and Nigerien troops and is based in N’djamena, Chad. The officer asserted that the force’s resolve to combat Boko Haram would be enduring.


Sources:

“Des responsables du nord du Cameroun auraient demandé à leur gouvernement et au Nigeria et au Tchad de déployer des troupes supplémentaires à leur frontière (Officials in northern Cameroon reportedly asked their government and Nigeria and Chad to deploy additional troops to their border),” actucameroun.com (French-language publication covering Cameroonian affairs from a neutral perspective), 1 June 2023. https://actucameroun.com/2023/06/01/des-responsables-du-nord-du-cameroun-auraient-demande-a-leur-gouvernement-et-au-nigeria-et-au-tchad-de-deployer-des-troupes-supplementaires-a-leur-frontiere/?_unique_id=64785f3f48c1b

As Boko Haram attacks intensify, we have learned that officials in northern Cameroon have called on neighboring Chad and Nigeria to deploy additional troops to their border to counter attacks by the Islamist group. The governor of the Far North region of Cameroon, which shares a border with Chad and Nigeria, revealed that hundreds of heavily armed radical Islamists infiltrated the dangerous Lake Chad Basin region and attacked, looted, and spread fear. 

President Paul Biya ordered officials and troops in Cameroon’s Far North region to hold an emergency crisis meeting and to ensure that the armed Islamist extremists infiltrating the troubled Lake Chad region are thwarted. 

In context of this security threat, we learn that the leaders of northern Cameroon do not intend to remain only at their border but have asked the neighboring countries, Nigeria and Chad, to also deploy men at their border in order to capture the terrorists.


“MNJTF Eliminates Boko Haram Fighters in Cameroon Axis,” 18 August 2023, premumtimes.ng (Abuja-based publication noted for investigative journalism that is critical of the government) https://prnigeria.com/2023/08/18/mnjtf-eliminates-boko/

On August 17, 2023, the troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Sector 1 in Cameroon successfully intercepted remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists who were scavenging for logistics in Hile Halifa on the fringes of Lake Chad, Far North Cameroon. This successful effort signifies another major setback for the terrorist group, which continues to threaten peace and stability in the regionThe MNJTF Sector 1 continues to strengthen its resolve in dismantling Boko Haram and restoring stability in the affected areas.


Notes:

[i] Perhaps no one spoke in more detail about Shekau’s harming civilians than his own rival subcommanders. They accused him of, among other brutalities, killing displaced persons who had no other way of finding food or shelter but to seek the support of “Christian” aid organizations and the government in refugee shelters and camps. However, Shekau considered this to be “apostasy.” In addition, Shekau ordered the killing of anyone who opposed him or even disagreed with him, which earned him—and Boko Haram more generally—a notorious reputation among the civilians of northeastern Nigeria. This caused the group to lose support to the consternation of Shekau’s less radical subcommanders. See Nur, Mamman, ‘Exposé: An Open Letter to Abubakar Shekau’, in Abdulbasit Kassim, and Michael Nwankpa (eds), The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2018.

[ii] For more on regional cooperation to counter Boko Haram, see; Jacob Zenn, “Multinational Joint Task Force Lauds Counterterrorism Success Against Boko Haram,” OE Watch, 05-2023.  https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/multinational-joint-task-force-lauds-counterterrorism-success-against-boko-haram/    

[iii] The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is the entity through which Lake Chad states, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, have intended to boost their “capacity by better sharing plans and intelligence, committing troops for longer operations and improving troops’ human rights compliance.” However, these states have resisted fully integrating their forces into the MNJTF, which may have contributed to the MNJTF’s lack of capacity to eliminate or significantly reduce Boko Haram attacks or border incursions around Lake Chad. See International Crisis Group, “What Role for the Multinational Joint Task Force in Fighting Boko Haram?,” Report  #291, July 7, 2020. https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/west-africa/291-what-role-multinational-joint-task-force-fighting-boko-haram


Image Information:

Image: Military vehicles of the BIR in Far Northern Cameroon 2019
Source: Moki Edwin Kindzeka (VOA), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Military_vehicles_of_the_BIR_in_Far_Northern_Cameroon_2019.jpg
Attribution: (CC x 2.0)


Nigerian Leadership Seeks Renewed Regional Cooperation Against Boko Haram

Trigger time at Flintlock 20.

Trigger time at Flintlock 20.


The operations conducted by MNJTF have seriously degraded the insurgents and there is, therefore, the need to bring all resources together to completely defeat the BHT/ISWAP.”


On 30 November, the business-oriented Lagos-based publication The Nation reported in the excerpted article on Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari’s speech to heads of state of Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) countries, which include Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin.[i] Buhari argued for greater financial and political commitment to enable the MNJTF to defeat Boko Haram. Prior to Buhari’s speech, on 25 September, the southern Nigeria-based publication This Day, which often reports critically on northern Nigerian affairs, featured the second excerpted article that highlighted the importance the Nigerian army is placing on the MNJTF to combat Boko Haram. According to the article, Nigerian Brigadier General Abdulsallam Abubakar visited the MNJTF headquarters in Chad and, like Buhari, stated that the MNJTF was degrading Boko Haram but additional resources would be needed to finish the job. In particular, Abubakar pointed to the increasing operational tempo against Boko Haram, which comprises two factions around Lake Chad whose mobile bases were largely dismantled during a Chadian-led operation in 2019.[ii]

Although there are other security challenges facing Nigeria, such as banditry and cross-border trafficking, which were the MNJTF mandates when it formed in the 1990s, Buhari urged the MNJTF countries to continue to primarily focus on combatting Boko Haram. This has been the top priority for the MNJTF since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2010. The MNJTF was most effective in combating Boko Haram in 2015, but it has since suffered from a lack of coordination, if not also unity of purpose and sufficient resourcing. Ultimately, results will need to be seen on the battlefield in future MNJTF confrontations with Boko Haram along Lake Chad’s shorelines for Buhari’s and Abubakar’s statements to be validated. Their statements nevertheless demonstrate that Nigeria is not conducting a go-it-alone strategy against Boko Haram. Rather, the country considers the contributions of neighboring countries—and specifically the MNJTF—crucial to the military effort.[iii]


Sources:

“Boko Haram: Buhari urges MNJTF to exert final push to end terrorism,” thenationonline.ng (business-oriented Lagos-based daily newspaper), 30 November 2022. https://thenationonlineng.net/boko-haram-buhari-urges-mnjtf-to-exert-final-push-to-end-terrorism/

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the Lake Chad Basin to exert the final push towards ending terrorism in the region. The President said this in his opening address at the 16th summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja. President Buhari, who ended his tenure as chairman of the commission at the end of the 16th summit, also charged his colleagues from the other five member-countries of to provide the requisite political and material support for the LCBC/MNJTF in order to motivate the formations to deliver on their mandates.

President Buhari noted that the fight against Boko Haram terrorists and other forms of threats in the region must remain the lead priority.

“MNJTF Seeks Joint Resource Pool to End Boko Haram, ISWAP Menace,” thisdailylive.com (independent Lagos-based daily newspaper), 25 September 2022. https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2022/09/25/mnjtf-seeks-joint-resource-pool-to-end-boko-haram-iswap-menace/

The Force Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Maj. Gen. Abdul Ibrahim, yesterday called on stakeholders to mobilise resources to bring to an end the menace posed by terror groups, Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP) in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. The Force Commander spoke as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, said joint training of the armed forces was crucial in dealing with security challenges afflicting the nation…. Speaking in Chad, the Force Commander, MNJTF stated that to effectively bring hostilities in the region to an end and  “completely wipe out Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region,” all stakeholders must pool resources to contain insurgency. He said so far the operations conducted by MNJTF had significantly degraded the insurgents….“The operations conducted by MNJTF and Operation Hadin Kai have seriously degraded the insurgents and there is, therefore, the need to bring all resources together to completely defeat the BHT/ISWAP,” he said.

Director of Army Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Mr. Sunday Attah, affirmed that “the objective of the competition, which is to reinforce the existing cordial working relationship between members of the Armed Forces, has been achieved.”


Notes:

[i] The MNJTF, which is based in N’Djamena, Chad, was originally based in Baga, Nigeria until Boko Haram overran the military base there in 2015. Considering that Boko Haram has gained strength since 2015, the MNJTF is generally not regarded as having succeeded despite winning several battles with the group. In particular, it has been hampered by distrust between the member states. See Albert, Isaac Olawale. “Security Regimes in Africa – Prospects and Challenges.” Africa Development, Vol. 42, No. 3. 2017, pp. 119-135.

[ii] Chad launched Operation Bohoma Wrath against Boko Haram after the terrorist group, led by Abubakar Shekau, massacred roughly 90 Chadian soldiers in the town of Bohoma along the Lake Chad shoreline in a surprise raid in early 2020. For additional information see: United Nations S/2020/373 Security Council, “Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel: Report of the Secretary-General,” May 8, 2020. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3861622?ln=fr

[iii] A book chapter on the MNJTF notes that the four MNJTF countries besides Nigeria are incentivized to participate in military operations against Boko Haram to build their own military capacities by receiving training and weapons from foreign armies. In this regard, these countries have tended to seek only limited engagements with Boko Haram on Nigerian territory, but still just enough to assure that the capacity-building of their armies continues. See Emmanuel, Nikolas. “External Incentives and the African Subregional Response to Boko Haram.” African Border Disorders, 1st ed., vol. 1, Routledge, 2018, pp. 136–50. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315166483-7


Image Information:

Image: Trigger time at Flintlock 20
Source: USAFRICOM from Stuttgart, Germany, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trigger_time_at_Flintlock_20_(50111204252).jpg
Attribution: CC x 2.0

Boko Haram Train Attack Raises Frustration with Nigeria’s Counterterrorism Strategy

81 Division NA - Camp Zairo, 2017.

81 Division NA – Camp Zairo, 2017.


“We failed to learn from our Boko Haram experiences, thus validating the dictum that those who fail to learn from their experiences are doomed to repeat them.”


The Nigerian government has been unable to curb Boko Haram attacks.  The excerpted article from Nigeria based vanguardngr.com expresses frustration over the government’s incompetence following an attack on a train in Kaduna State in late April.  According to the article, this is only the latest of many failures in Nigeria’s counterterrorism strategy dating back to the notorious Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping of 2014.  The train attack is particularly notable because it occurred outside of Boko Haram’s main area of operations in northeastern Nigeria and came just two years after another Boko Haram faction loyal to al-Qaeda shot and almost downed a military helicopter in 2020.Vangaurdngr.com has previously been critical of the federal government led by northerner Muslim President Muhammadu Buhari, suggesting that the dire economic situation in Nigeria and lack of a government mandate over certain rural areas in Kaduna have facilitated Boko Haram’s spread in the country.  The article asserts the government is mismanaging the security situation in the country and failing to learn from previous mistakes in countering Boko Haram.  Unless the negative security trend lines are reversed, the article indicates the Buhari administration will have a legacy of empty promises.  Ultimately, the article demands the government prioritize defending communities against Boko Haram and warns that unless this is done, the group will continue to expand its operations and conduct devastating attacks like this one that erode the government’s legitimacy.


Source:

“Failure to learn from our Boko Haram experience,” vanguardngr.com (Nigerian media outlet), 19 April 2022. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/04/failure-to-learn-from-our-boko-haram-experience/

The train attack was obviously staged to embarrass and blackmail the Federal Government. They downed a military jet and attacked the Kaduna Airport twice. The steady massacres and attacks of defenceless communities in Southern Kaduna as well as Plateau and Benue states by herdsmen terrorists have gone largely ignored by the Buhari government. The parlous economic situation and near anarchy due to the failure of the Federal Government to protect innocent and defenceless people have continued to put a question mark on the positive legacy this regime has recorded. We failed to learn from our Boko Haram experiences, thus validating the dictum that those who fail to learn from their experiences are doomed to repeat them. We hope the next regime will review the actions of major actors of this administration in mismanaging our security.


Image Information:

Image: 81 Division NA – Camp Zairo, 2017.
Source: Hussaina Muhammad (VOA)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:81_Division_NA_-_Camp_Zairo,_2017.png
Attribution: CC x 2.0

Nigerian Governor Assures Counterterrorism Success Against Boko Haram

7 Div NA - Camp Zairo, 2017.

7 Div NA – Camp Zairo, 2017.


“He reiterated that kinetic measures alone will not end the war and therefore advised that a political solution be applied.”  


Babaguna Zulum, the governor of northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State, is assuring Nigerians that a multi-pronged counterterrorism approach is leading to success against Boko Haram.  According to the excerpted 18 February article from Nigerian current events-focused Vanguard News, Zulum met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and reported that 30,000 Boko Haram members had surrendered voluntarily to the Borno authorities.  He further underscored that defections from Boko Haram substantiate that dialogue with the insurgents, including guarantees of assistance for insurgents who lay down their arms, must accompany the army’s use of force.

Zulum noted that the heavy presence of Nigerian troops in southern Borno coincided with the defections and called for a similar deployment in northern Borno.  This indicates that military pressure on the insurgents led to demoralization and caused some of the insurgents to surrender.  Further, Zulum advised that once the government cleared insurgents from local areas, then it should immediately return displaced people to their homes with military protection.

Zulum distinguished between those Boko Haram members who the government captured and those who surrendered, with only the latter granted a chance for rehabilitation.  Given the success of such efforts, Zulum urged the Nigerian government to provide increased funding to repatriation, resettlement, and reconciliation programs.  More broadly, Zulum claims that Boko Haram will not be defeated completely on the battlefield and, therefore, the government must seek some form of political settlement through negotiations.


Source:

“Boko Haram insurgency’ll end by 2023 — Zulum,” vanguardngr.com (Nigerian news source), 18 February 2022. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/02/boko-haram-insurgencyll-end-by-2023-zulum//

The governor further said that the Borno state government does not offer any incentive to the fighters to come out of the forests; rather, they have done so voluntarily.

Zulum disclosed that he discussed the continuing surrender of the insurgents and the case of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with the president even as he said that the security situation in Borno state has improved considerably, hoping that things will continue in that direction. He reiterated that kinetic measures alone will not end the war and therefore advised that a political solution be applied.

“… I’m pleased to inform you that there was a very heavy military deployment into the southern Borno. And I hope such a deployment will also take place in northern Borno, with a view to clearing the ISWAP insurgents in the Lake Chad.”

Source: “More than 8,000 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered,” premiumtimesng.com (Nigerian news source), 21 September 2021. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/486107-more-than-8000-boko-haram-terrorists-have-surrendered-goc.html

The Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Abdulwahab Eyitayo, says more than 8,000 Boko Haram terrorists have so far surrendered to troops.… He said the surrender by the repentant terrorists was a welcome development, adding that the overwhelming fire power of the troops was responsible.


Image Information:

Image: 7 Div NA – Camp Zairo, 2017
Source: Hussaina Muhammad, VOA
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:7_Div_NA_-_Camp_Zairo,_2017.png
Attribution: CC x 2.0