13 December 2013

Nigeria: Shekau Appears in New Video, Claims Responsibility for Maiduguri Killings

Photo: Vanguard
Boko Haram

Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau said in a video obtained by AFP yesterday that the group was behind a daring raid on military installations in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri earlier this month.

"Allah the Almighty has given us victory in the attack we launched inside Maiduguri (which was) called Borno in ancient times," said Abubakar Shekau in a 40-minute clip.

Speaking in Arabic, Hausa and Kanuri widely spoken in North-East Nigeria, Shekau added: "We stormed the city and fought them (and) Allah blessed us with lots of booty."

The video, which was obtained through an intermediary, shows Shekau dressed in military fatigues with a turban and Kalashnikov assault rifle leaning on his chest.

He spoke for 19 minutes in all while the rest of the tape shows images of burning buildings and aircraft said to be from the Dec 2 attack in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

It also shows a display of weapons the banned Islamist group says it seized in the attack, including dozens of Kalashnikovs and rockets.

The authenticity of the tape could not be verified independently.

Gunmen who arrived in pick-up trucks besieged an army and air force base, destroying aircraft, razing buildings and setting shops and petrol stations ablaze, witnesses said.

The early morning raid was seen as significant because the Nigerian military had previously claimed to have pushed the militants out of urban centres and into more remote, rural areas.

FG Disputes ICC Report On Boko Haram

Meanwhile, the federal government has dissociated the International Criminal Court (ICC) from a report that ICC has classified the state of emergency following the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east as constituting a state of war.

Federal government stated that the letter written by the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP), ICC had never referred to the situation in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states as a 'civil war.' It noted that the international body only referred to the situation as a 'Non-international Armed Conflict' (NIAC).

This was made known in a press statement signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and made available to LEADERSHIP, yesterday, where the federal government also refuted a report about an upsurge in armed confrontation in the three restive states.

The statement reads in part; "It is equally not correct to state that there has been an upsurge in armed confrontation following the declaration of the State of Emergency. Rather than an increase in intensity, attacks by Boko Haram have become sporadic, focusing on soft targets such as schools. It is therefore a matter of regret that the relative success of the Emergency Rule and the noticeable lull in the attacks by Boko Haram seem to have escaped the attention of the OTP".

In a related development, the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen Azubuike Ihejirika has begged Nigerians to help the military bring the Boko Haram insurgency to its knees.

He said terrorism came to the country without the nation planning for it, adding that the fight against the menace required efforts of both the security forces and the Nigerian public to assist in curtailing this situation.

'FG's Indifference Fuels Violence In Northern Nigeria'

Meanwhile, the indifference of federal government in investigating and quelling the killings in the northern part of the country has been linked to the increasing spate of violence in the region.

According to international watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW), "Nigeria's government has largely ignored years of mass murder in Plateau and Kaduna states in central Nigeria."

HRW in a report released yesterday catalogues horrific sectarian violence in these two states, which has left more than 3,000 people dead since 2010.

The report which examines government's failure to hold perpetrators accountable, even though many of their identities are well-known in the affected communities, said victims of the communal violence - including women and children - were hacked to death, burned alive, or shot simply based on their ethnic or religious identity.

International Report Reveals JTF's Alleged 'Indiscriminate Violence' In Boko Haram Fight

In another development, an international report highlighting ethno-religious and political violence in Nigeria has revealed alleged "heavy-handedness" and "indiscriminate violence" of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the fight to check a Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged most parts of the country's North-East.

Citing disclosures by the Nigeria Police Force's anti-bomb squad, the report stated that over 400 bomb explosions have taken place in Nigeria in the last three years.

Also, Enugu state, South-East of the country was identified as having the highest incidents of crime in the entire country. In the same vein, the report highlighted that the North-Central region has some of the highest national levels of violence with communal militias being involved in over 40 per cent of incidents of political violence and over 73 per cent of conflict related fatalities there.

The 124-page report, "The Violent Road: An Overview of Armed Violence in Nigeria," was produced and launched yesterday in Abuja by the National Working Group on Armed Violence in Nigeria (NWGAV) with support from the government of Norway through the London-based organisation, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

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