Inside Story: How can Nigeria tackle the Boko Haram threat?
Inside Story

Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram

As Nigeria enters the New Year under a state of emergency, how worrying is Boko Haram’s growing violence?

Nigeria ended 2011 with the country reeling from a series of bomb attacks, for which the Islamist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility.

Nigeria’s president has declared a state of emergency and ordered the closure of borders, vowing to crush what he calls terrorists as the Boko Haram group intensifies its attacks.

It [the state of emergency] can very much be counter-productive because one of the major grievances in the north is the heavy-handed attitude of the security forces, both the army
and the police. Now, giving them even more powers than they have had, that could get worse.

– Na ‘eem Jeenah, director of the African and Middle East centre

President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration means parts of the border with Niger, Chad and Cameroon will be temporarily closed.

It gives the security agencies more power to search and arrest people and establishes a military counter-terrorism force. All this comes with the recognition that Boko Haram are becoming a growing threat.

But is declaring a state of emergency the right response? And is dialogue an option?

Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Na’eem Jeenah, the director of the African and Middle East Centre, an independent think-tank based in South Africa; Richard Dowden, the director of the Royal African Studies; and Isaac Olewale Albert, the director of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

“It has become imperative to take some decisive measures necessary to restore normalcy in the country, especially within the affected communities.”

Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria