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‘Northern Nigeria Is Now An Islamic State’ declares Boko Haram

by Felix Omondi

‘Northern Nigeria Is Now An Islamic State’ declares Boko Haram

Credit: BBC Africa

Credit: BBC Africa

Following the release of a video featuring Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau congratulating his militia for their latest seizure of Gwoza town early this month. The militia group has since declared it has set up an Islamic State across all the towns and villages it has seized so far in north-eastern Nigeria.

However, it is not certain if Mr Shekau has pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State which currently controls parts of Syria and Iraq. In reaction to this development, the Nigeria army has dismissed this latest statement by Boko Haram as “empty.”

The militia began its insurgency back in 2009, leaving a trail of thousands of bodies in their path, mostly in north-eastern parts of Nigeria. It would appear Boko Haram has made its biggest conquest so far, given the fact that the last census of Gwoza shows that the town harboured close to 265,000 residents.

According to statements made by Gwoza town residents, Boko Haram has raised its flags on the palace of the Emir of Gwoza – the traditional ruler of the town. Boko Haram controls a number of areas in the Borno state where the group first established. It has also spread its control into the Yobe state.

Thanks be to Allah, who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic state,” said Mr Shekau, in his 52-minutes long video. The video also shows 20 men dressed in civilian attires, apparently being shot dead.

The Nigeria’s military spokesman, Chris Olukolade, said, “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact.” In response to the Boko Haram’s statement of setting up an Islamic state in North-Eastern Nigeria, ,

Gwoza town is not far off from Chibok, where the militia kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls back in April this year. Again just last week, Boko Haram attacked a police academy in Liman Kara, a few miles away from Gwoza. It is said, 35 police officers from that academy are missing, and the Nigerian police is still searching for them.

Residents are saying that Boko Haram seized the college, but it is not yet clear as to who exactly controls the college as of now. Boko Haram attacks have led to the Nigerian government declaring a state of emergency over three states in north-eastern Nigeria in 2013, but this has bared little fruits, as Boko Haram activities seems to grow and intensify.

Mr Shekau released another video in July this year, congratulating the Islamic State for its advances into Syria and Iraq. But he fell short of stating whether or not his militia is allied to the Islamic State, and there has been no evidence so far indicating that the two militia groups are linked.

About Islamic State

The Islamic State has the better part of northern Iraq in the recent months, which led to the United States launching an air strike in that region. Last week, the militants ignited a worldwide fury after it had beheaded a US journalist James Foley.

About Boko Haram

The militia founded in 2002, is said to have started off as a campaign to oppose Western education. ‘Boko Haram’ is a Hausa (a Nigerian dialect) name meaning ‘Western education is forbidden.’ It began its military operations back in 2009, with the aim of establishing an Islamic state, and has since killed thousands of people, mostly in north-eastern parts of Nigeria.

It has also launched attacks against the Nigerian police and attacked UN’s headquarters in the capital, Abuja. It has affected the lives of more than three million people in Nigeria and was officially declared by the USA as a terrorist group in 2013.

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