As if to ridicule the Nigerian government’s claims that it has security in the north under control and that it is winning the war, Boko Haram fighters have been on a rampage in Borno state over the past week. And while their Feb. 18 assault on the country home of Major General Tukur Buratai, Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta was meant as an insult, the following day the group carried out another high-profile attack on the town of Bama.
At approximately 4 a.m. on Feb. 19, Boko Haram gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives stormed the town. Residents fled the violence and destruction which, according to a Nigerian senator, lasted for seven hours. At least 98 people have been killed in the attack, Reuters reported, and many buildings, including the palace of the Emir of Bama, were burned to the ground.
According to Borno state’s chief of police Lawal Tanko, Boko Haram fighters were finally chased off when the air force was scrambled jets from Maiduguri, resulting in heavy losses for the insurgents as they fled. This is reminiscent of Boko Haram’s previous attack on Bama in December 2013, when the group attacked a base belonging to the 202 Tank Battalion, killing an unknown number of soldiers as well as their families who lived with them at the barracks.
Another Shekau video
Later on Feb. 19, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a new video to Agence France Presse. In the video, Shekau speaks in Hausa, appearing alongside a tank, two military vans, and about a dozen armed militants. He admits to killing Adam Albani, an Islamic cleric known for preaching against Boko Haram, and threatens to attack other leading Nigerian Muslim figures, including the Shehu of Borno and the Emir of Kano. Shekau states: “The reason why I will kill you is you are infidels. You follow democracy. Whoever follows democracy is an infidel.”
Shekau urges his fighters to “hold on to your weapons and continue fighting” and to “understand that our work is not confined to Yobe, Borno and Adamawa.” He continues: “Make them understand that we are not restricted by emergency rule. They should understand we are under the canopy of Allah.”
As in some of his earlier videos, Shekau threatens a variety of world leaders, including Ban Ki Moon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Queen Elizabeth, and Goodluck Jonathan, and warns Christians and those who attend Western schools that they will be targeted.
Furthermore, while his previous videos derided world leaders, some of whom aren’t even alive, Shekau seems to have shifted his focus, and now threatens new attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta, declaring: “You will in coming days see your refinery bombed,” and “Niger Delta, you are in trouble.”
Nigeria obtains more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from oil from the Niger Delta, and produces approximately two million barrels of crude oil per day, the highest oil output in Africa.