Decoding Boko Haram: The Regional Ambitions and Permutations


boko haram map


October 20th, 2012

NewsRescue– Beyond the government silence on Boko Haram, its sponsors and affiliations, beyond the media failure to investigate this unique terror phenomenon in Nigeria. Beyond the public’s frustrations  and anger at this Northern stemming reign of terror; NewsRescue decided  to figure out who Boko Haram are, where they are from and what they  represent.

Our investigative team presents for you the simple, overlooked facts  about this obscure, yet conspicuous organism that has presented a unique type of terror threat, before unseen on the planet. Boko Haram targets  blindly, they are accused of and have taken responsibility for over 1000 bombing deaths per year for the last 2 years, these include, Churches,  Mosques, government buildings including the UN building in Abuja in  2011; they also target media houses and telecommunications  infrastructure.

The Kanuri and the Fulani

Nigeria in the 70′s was looked at as having simply three ethnic  groups, the Hausa’s in the North, the Igbo’s in the East and South and  the Yoruba’s in the South-west. As time passed, people got more informed and realized that there were many other groups, many almost as large as and rivaling these three major groups. And many of these unrecognized  groups hated more than anything, being filed under some of the three  main groups. Indeed there are over 500 unique ethnic groups in Nigeria  according to

In the late eighteenth century, insecurity characterized the Hausa  and Borno, Kanuri states of Nigeria. Many were disenchanted with the  state of affairs, and in a revolution against this, the famous Fulani  Muslim warrior, Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio overran Nigeria’s north. In 1809, he founded the Sokoto caliphate. By virtue of his reign and work,  including writing over 100 books on religion, government, culture and  society, Dan Fodio, an urbanized Fulani invariably led to a Fulani elite culture in northern Nigeria with most ruling or ambitious households  embracing the ‘Fulani’ label.

Certain parts of the north were not conquered by the Dan Fodio,  Fulani empire. Included in these were the Argungu in the North where  Kebbi rulers holed up, and important to this piece, in Borno, where  though the mai was overthrown, the Al Kanemi fashioned a powerful  resistance and forced the Fulani to retreat west and south. The Al  Kanemi then supplanted the eight hundred year old Safawa Dynasty ruler  of Borno and established his lineage over these Kanuri people.

To cut the history lesson short. The north ended up having two major  independent dynasties: The Sokoto Hausa-Fulani caliphate, and the Kanuri Al Kanemi dynasty.

But the thwarting off of the Sokoto Caliphate by the al Kanemi with  help of Shuwa Arabs who he chattered to join his military ranks, was not the only feud between these two dynasties. The Kanuri Al Kanemi also  contested with the Sokoto caliphate with a barrage of literature, books  and letters, in an ideological battle. This he did knowing that the  strength of the Dan Fodio regime was not just military, but based on  theological, legal and political civil documents.

Boko Haram, a Kanuri Epi Center

With this very clear line recognized between the Hausa-Fulani, under  the Sardauna of Sokoto as traditional head and the Borno-Yobe et al,  Kanuris, who take religious and traditional directive, not from the  Fulani, but the Shehu of Kanuri Borno, we immediately see a vital aspect of Boko Haram’s history and roots that has been largely ignored by  most.

We might just be the grass, in the clash of two crazy and greedy Elephants.

Chukwu Jideani of the Pilot, rightly classified and described:

The Kanuri Jihad and the Ruin of a Nation

In its proper and distilled nature the so called “Boko Haram” issue  is at its root a “Kanuri Jihad” aimed at over throwing the existing  order established by the over 200 years old Jihad of “Uthman Dan Fodio” . Like Dan Fodio whose Jihad was aimed at rooting out societal ills,  ineffective government and religious impiety and led by one ethnic  nationality –the Fulanis; the Mohammed Yusuf Maidugiri based movement  was said to have started out preaching against bad and ineffective  leadership by the circular government as well as the traditional and  religious leadership in the north east and this movement was also mainly led by one ethnic nationality – the kanuris. Read More…

Boko Haram is not a Hausa-Fulani phenomenon

Boko Haram is a revolution that stems from the center of the Nigerian Kanuri empire. The major states and parts of the states involved are  Borno, parts of Yobe, parts of Bauchi, parts of Gombe and where many  Kanuri reside. The Kanuri, though, like the Ijaw are known to widely  disperse and acculturate in their host communities.

In analyzing any urban renegade insurgency as in Boko Haram, it is  essential to separate strategic leadership and interests from tactical  leadership, interests, tools and soldiers.

Senator Zanna

It is glaring that Boko Haram has most of its essential strategic  leadership among the Kanuri people. On October 19th, 2012, a Boko Haram  commander, Shuaibu Bama was arrested in a sitting senators domain.  Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna conceded according to media reports, that upon the Nigerian security forces beating up his family children,  the kids brought out the commander, who happens to be his sister’s  son/nephew.

Without question, his family and possibly himself knew of this  youth’s operation as commander of this deadly, merciless terrorist sect. But he is not the first Kanuri senator to be implicated. Another  Senator from Borno, Mohammed Ali Ndume has been arrested since November  2011, even though very not surprisingly, the Nigerian government and  judicial system allowed him escape to Saudi Arabia. He too has been  powerfully implicated as a Boko Haram mastermind. Boko Haram’s founder,  Mohammed Yusuf was of course a Kanuri from Borno, as is the new face of  the group, the alias, Abubakar Shekau, who is from Shekau village in  Yobe state.

Many other arrests have been alleged to have occurred in and linked  to prominent Borno, Kanuri government officials and their residences.

What are the interests of this Kanuri based sect?

The question to ask is- what can the Kanuri radical interests be?  Before answering this question, it must be noted that the ruling Shehu  of Borno, does not appear in league with Boko Haram and he himself has  been targeted by this group of traditional Kanuri fanatics. It is  possible that they for one, do not recognize his reign and wish among  other interests, to replace him. The Shehu was born in Damagum, Yobe  State and not Borno and only returned to inherit the throne.

So who are the people at strategic levels, with the know-how,  limitless recourse and sophisticated ability to protect, arm and provide the high grade support to sustain the recruitment and maintenance of  the radical fanatic hoodlums maintaining tactical operations?

It is impertinent to ask- what and who converted the initial Boko  Haram, dime a dozen group of rabble-rouser fanatics into this  sophisticated level of equipped terrorists with state-of-the-art  equipment?

Traditionally one of the richest dynasties in Africa, the states  under the Kanuri flag are now known as some of the poorest states in the federation and world, and as per Nigerian politics, they have been  progressively been losing a foothold on power. This feature of the  region, certainly aids the flourishing of the ‘franchise’ at tactical  and strategic levels.

Senator Mohamed Ali Ndume {AllAfrica}

When you think about the Kanuri, it is essential to remember the  person of no other than late president Abacha. He, like a few other of  his political peers, is suspected to originally be from Chad and not  even Borno, though the man with his proud Kanuri ethnic marks, claimed  Kano state. He set up and funded one of Nigeria’s first terror networks.

Sani Abacha

The assassination of Kudirat Abiola, was suspected to be the  handiwork of a terror network, established by Abacha. Abacha’s national  security chief, Ismaila Gwarzo has long been fingered in the running of a network of assassins, via the ‘strike force’, and he had access to  immeasurable wealth by virtue of his position. Gwarzo has been accused  of stealing an estimated $2.45 billion from the Nigerian Central Bank.  The Abacha created paramilitary ‘Strike force’, was an elite force  trained abroad, in North Korea, etc.

It is possible that the wherewithal and security force created by  Abacha could be what is let loose as Boko Haram for political goals.  Knowing that terrorism requires sophisticated military and tactical know how, is it possible that the Abacha apparatus is the origin and  foundation of Boko Haram? We must ask, where is the Gwarzo money and  where is the Abacha ‘Strike force’?

Next, the rivalry between Borno State Governor and king maker, Ali  Modu Sheriff, and Mala Kachalla, comes into mind, the governor’s  brother, Goni was murdered as was his cousin, ANPP Deputy Zonal  Chairman, Awagana Ngala. Could some of this be a feud between these two  politicians?

And then, when thinking about those with influence, possible motives  and ability by action or inaction to modify events in this region, the  Kanuri politician who likes to call himself, ‘King I be’, Baba Gana  Kingibe, must be remembered, being another most powerful Kanuri  indigene, also suspected to have origins outside Nigeria, Niger to be  precise, with his years of ambition to rule Nigeria.

He is most certainly not feeling too good right now after being  sacked by the Yaradua government upon Yaradua’s return from the hospital in Saudi Arabia, to ‘realize’ that in his absence, Kingibe who being  the Secretary of the government, was the official number 4 and  administrative number 3 man, was already printing posters and planning  his campaign for presidency in the hope of Yaradua’s demise. That’s ‘beef’ between Kingibe and Yaradua and current president GEJ (Goodluck  Ebele Jonathan).

The Rise and Fall of Baba Gana Kingibe

Baba Gana Kingibe

Kingibe’s first sin is indubitably his insensate ambition to become  Nigerian president and, perhaps, the first university-educated  Northerner to do so, as evidenced by his total lack of interest in state politics and offices. Yar’Adua, ironically beat him to that goal. In  reality, however, Kingibe has long been groomed for leadership.  In  addition, he is eminently well tutored and therefore qualified for  national leadership tasks. Having been a foreign service officer, an  ambassador, a principal officer at the supreme military headquarters, a  political director in the cabinet office, secretary of the constituent  assembly, minister of interior, minister of foreign affairs, minister of power and steel, a member of the Inter-Congolese Facilitation team,   and a special representative of the AU [African Union], his resume is an enviable one.  Fittingly, renowned Nigerian blogger, Dr. Wumi Akintinde cited Kingibe, amongst others as “a recurring decimal in the Nigerian political equation.”

In active politics, Kingibe has been chairman of a major political  party, a vice presidential candidate, a presidential candidate and, most recently, Secretary to the Government of the Federation.   He was on  the Abiola-Kingibe Social Democratic Party (SDP) ticket that won the  annulled 1993 presidential elections, considered the freest and most  credible in Nigeria’s history.  These, unquestionably, are very  impressive credentials, except of course, that BGK is also a man with  hefty political baggage and the attending detractions and enmity.

For starters, many disdain Kingibe because he is well versed in  Nigeria’s military anti-politics and has been a key beneficiary.   Secondly, he is very outspoken to the point of being arrogant.  Nevertheless, it is much to his credit that he can easily mix such  bluntness with his fine diplomatic skills. However, if Kingibe has  committed a cardinal political sin, it is the widely held belief about  his presumed betrayal of Chief MKO Abiola and the June 12 cause.   In  2007, Ubanese Nwanganga summed up the angst against Kingibe with these  acerbic words:

BGK has demonstrated that he has no conscience. He has no  conviction. He is like a prostitute, who engages any number of different men a night just for her money. There is no attachment to such  relationships. She wants the money and how it is made is immaterial.” (see The Return of Baba Gana Kingibe) Read More…

Kingibe: Sacked by the Katsina Mafia

By Tobs Agbaegbu Sunday, September 14, 2008

Babagana Kingibe loses battle for influence at the presidency with  his sack as secretary to the government of the federation last week

Babagana Kingibe had gradually lost influence at the  presidency. Unknown to many, he had been having a running battle with  other key members of the administration who have come to be known as the “Katsina Mafia.” His sudden sack was largely the handiwork of that  group.

But sources also said that Kingibe also partly  contributed to his own fall. He was said to have been over-ambitious in  government and was openly undermining the office of the president and  that of the vice-president, Goodluck Jonathan.

He was one of the most trusted members of the  administration after it took off in earnest in June 2007. Gradually, he  became a key figure, a power broker and even assumed a larger than life  posture. But last Monday Septmeber 8, Babagana Kingibe, diplomat and  politician was unceremoniously fired by President Umaru Yar’Adua.

The action, the first major decision to be taken by Yar’Adua less  than 48 hours after his arrival in the country from his controversial  trip to Saudi Arabia for medial attention, confirmed reports that had  been making the rounds. Read More…

External Shareholders and Foreign elements

There is no doubt that there are non Kanuri Boko Haram members and  shareholders. These are people who see a unique advantage of the  militancy of this group that is more up to date in the enactment of  terror than are the Nigerian security services in proactive crime  deterrence.

And as southern gangs were used to establish certain regional and  even national leadership, so also do some of these stake holders,  utilize the Kanuri extremist cult, Boko Haram for pursuing their  interests. This is why we see related terror activity in religiously and ethnically perturbed Kogi state.

We also have heard of other powerful Nigerians, Jerry Gana, a CAN  (Christian Association of Nigeria) leader, who hails from the Middle  Belt and has been pointed to as having some sort of affiliation with the group. Media has it that he bailed out group founder, Mohammed Yusuf,  from Jail, not once, but twice.

The Northern controversial leader and outspoken pro-secessionist, Dr. Ibrahim Ahmed Datti has also been fingered as being affiliated with  this Kanuri organization. The fiery cleric, who was behind the  institution of Shariah law in Nigeria is known to have been a mentor to  Mohammed Yusuf, and recently was publicized as an intermediary to  conduct government talks with the sect. Talks which he pulled out of  when his involvement became public.

Foreign interests and connections to Boko Haram can never be ignored, as Nigeria is  a  world top oil producer and hence an important state in the global rush  for a new colonization of Africa. Chaos, being a  usual opportunity for  military intervention and occupation, and the creation of a ‘New World  Order’, as top US Elite leader, Eisenhower said during Obama’s  inauguration.

But overall, strategic command of terror stems from the Kanuri  leadership, who are also in charge of tactical operations. It will be  recollected that Abu Qaqa II was easily murdered by the sect leader, due to his being a non Kanuri. Here is an excerpt on that event, from  Thisday:

Abu Qaqa II was believed to have been killed on the  instruction of the leader of the sect, Abu Shekau, for attempting to  back out of their reign of terror.

He was said to have tried to denounce the sect after being trailed  intensively by security agents, which forced him to change locations on  several occasions.

The news of his killing coincided with the disclaimer by Vice  President Namadi Sambo that the Boko Haram attacks have religious  undertones.

Abu Qaqa II, whose real name is Mohammed Anwal Kontagora, was from  Kontagora in Niger State. He adopted the name Abu Qaqa in February after the original Abu Qaqa, also known by many aliases, including Abu  Dardaa, Mohammed Shuaibu and Abu Tiamiya, was arrested in January.

Kontagora, like his predecessor, was non-Kanuri, so the  decision to terminate his life by the Boko Haram leader, as has  transpired with other non-Kanuri members of the sect, was said to have  been decided summarily. Read More…

It is essential for security services and the general populace to be  well informed on all characteristics and demographics of this problem  that plagues west Africa as a whole. Profiling the problem helps to  identify it, recognize it and better deal with it. In considering the  solutions to this problem that destroys the north, the Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo, Yoruba, and other groups in the North and across Nigeria that are plagued by the Boko Haram reign of terror, must recognize and address  the issues erupting from the Kanuri empire. And, working with the decent leaders, help the Kanuri people overcome the mess.

Hamza Suleiman, Gary Frist and Lekan Abayomi contributed to the article




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