Nigeria's Boko Haram Desertions Could Be the Tipping Point

Understanding why members leave Boko Haram is important - it provides authorities with information that can be used to counter terrorism in the area. The recent departures are occurring mainly in Nigeria, specifically Borno State. Combatants and affiliates are also surrendering to authorities in Cameroon, as some communities are close to the border between the two countries. Governments in the Lake Chad Basin region should use the ongoing departures to cripple the violent extremist group, writes Malik Samuel and Remadji Hoinathy for the Institute for Security Studies.

At least 1,000 militants have surrendered to troops in Bama, Gwoza, Mafa, Konduga and other areas in the southern and central parts of Borno State. Their camps were located in Sambisa Forest and around Mandara mountains. Some inhabitants of the area were "convinced" to join Boko Haram or whom were forcibly taken - have emerged from the trap when the soldiers arrived. There are doubts that most of the people surrendering to military authorities, are not actual Boko Haram fighters but those trapped in enclaves. 

This comes in the aftermath of the fall of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram. Shekau reportedly killed himself in his enclave in Sambisa Forest in May 2021, when he was trapped by fighters loyal to the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) who wanted him to surrender. The inability of the Shekau followers to resist the onslaught from Nigerian troops and pressure from ISWAP, therefore, contributed to disarray and then mass outflux of conscripted followers and those that were tired of fighting, reports Hamza Idris, Idowu Isamotu, Misbahu Bashir and Olatunji Omirin for Daily Trust.

ISWAP, which split from the mainstream Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant group, focusing on military targets and high-profile attacks, including attacks against aid workers.


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