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Violent Religious Extremism of Boko Haram’s threat on National stability and security of Niger Republic.

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Abba Gana Wakil Mahamadou

Centre for the study and Promotion of Cultural Sustainability University of Maiduguri, Borno State

Abstract

Boko Haram insurgency remains unarguably one of the major challenges bedevilling Niger Republic today with implications on the stability and security of the country development. The Insurgent brutal group has wreaked havoc on life and properties of Nigeriens when it first launched deadly attack on Bosso with aim to capture the town and declare its caliphate in Niger Republic. The group not only embarked on lethal onslaught on soft targets and security operatives but also undermined substantially the principle of corporate existence of one and indivisible Niger Republic. However this paper undertakes a thorough investigation on the evolving of the Insurgency and its threat on Niger national stability and security which virtually was shaken under the Boko Haram emergence. Furthermore the study focuses on the state of emergency declared by the Nigerien government to tackle the rising wave of insecurity with its subsequent humanitarian crisis and mass displacement of the population in the affected region by the insurgents activities..Also the paper explores possible way out of the daunting imbroglio in which the Nigerien are confined due to the devastating effects of the sect on peace, security and development through a vigorous Marshall plan susceptible to rehabilitate the Boko Haram’s torn area of southeast Niger Republic. Lastly the paper will look at the counterinsurgency coalition currently in operation in the lake Chad basin which is quintessential for the restoration of the overall security and stability of the Sahel landscape.

keywords: Violent, Religious, Extremism, Boko Haram,  threat, National stability, Security, Niger Republic

Introduction

Boko Haram surfaced glaringly in Niger Republic since 2008 when the sect opened its own mosque and recruited militants under the leadership of a well known Diffa native who has ties with main organization based in Maiduguri. At its inception the group was a sleeping cell used Niger territory  to raise funds pile up weapons, ammunitions and food supplies and also as transit point to Mali and Libya (Crisis Group report 2016). Gradually the movement evolved into a global terror movement which merged to the organisation of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad  and transformed the lake Chad basin as hub of the insurgency virtually prompting mass movement of displaced persons and flux of refugees, heraldiing large scale of humanitarian disaster in the sub-region.(Tar and Bala2019). The insurgent group sewell their rank of foot soldiers through mass recruitment and conscription among the idle youths triggering violent onslaught across member countries of Lake Chad Basin thereby compromising stability and security process. The collapse of Libya after the death of Gaddafi, the Niger- Nigeria border porosity gave the opportunity to the terrorist of Boko Haram  to cart away humonguous quantity of  arms and amunitions from the Libyan arms depot sneaked out through the vast Sahara desert landing in the hand Boko Haram Jihadist.(Ibrahim 2014) Also the Boko Haram grew exponentially in Niger numerically due to the immensity of Niger territory and no man’s land nature  of  the area affected by the insurgency coupled to the availability of unemployed illetrate youth induced by the illusive financial gains and the hope of better life. Similarly to the Nigerian Boko Haram, Niger’s combatants exert lethal attacks on border town and villages with Nigeria forcing populations to flee their homes to seek refuge in more safer enclave. In facts. Boko Haram activities has paralyzed the stability and security of the country followed by increased crime and destruction of both life and property of Nigeriens. This can be underpinned by the mass movement of people who scamper for their safety leaving behind their legitimate businesses and also even investors and multinationals were scared out of the country. The escalation of the crisis continued unabated and the Niger Government resorted to declare a state of emergency on 10 February  2015  in the stronghold of Nigerien Boko Haram in Diffa to tackle the issue of the insecurity which jeopardised globally the stability and security of the Lake Chad enclave.. Despite the Nigerien government committment to curb the tensification of the movement Boko Haram staged deadly attack and overran Bosso a  strategic military outpost killing security forces and capturing the town which was liberated with the timely assistance of Chadians forces and supported by airstrike. .Since then a Multi National joint Task Force composed  by forces of lake Chad basin members states were formed to wipe out insurgency in the zone which is rated among the dangerous area of the universe.(Crisis Group 2016).The alarming spate of insurgent attacks in different part of the country, leaving unpalatable consequences for the nation’s economy and its growth, coupled  with daunting developmental challenges including endemic rural and urban poverty, high rate of unemployment, inadequate physical and social infrastructure, corruption very large domestic debt and bad governance have jeopardized stability and security  situation. ( Niger Republic  National Institute of Statistic 2006) Niger Government made huge allocation in the budget to security in the process of dampening the movement rapidl propagation in the area .Despite the plethora of security measures  and astronomic investment to tackle the daunting challenges of insurgency, Nigerien government was rescued by foreign countries such as USA and EU to combat the rising wave of terrorism and insecurity. Consequently members states of lake Chad and Benin created a countrinsurgency force called Multi National Joint force composed of 8700 spdiers ready to defeat insurgency and checkmate their various chains of supply and supposed connections in the region.

Boko Haram movement emergence and its evolution in Niger Republic

Boko Haram is a ruthless indegeneous terrorist movement which incubated in 2000 and ascended to prominence in 2008 in the context of mal administration and growing poverty in the Southeast of Niger Republic. The movement uniqueness is evidenced by its proselytise Islamic agenda with brutal doctrine of establishing  a Sharia caliphate without any prior intent to assume power or implement an economic alternative policy.Boko Haram ideology is based on the Kwarij dogma which seeks to confront the trational pacific Muslim establishment (Campbell 2011, Mustapha and Tar 2016:19-21).

Boko Haram from inception attracted several followers from all social affiliations and the movement is predominantly constituted by a large chunk of Diffa’s indigent Sangayya students, and Ulamas as well as professionals mostly job seekers or manual workers who are fighting for the implimentation of sharia law in the Diffa’s region of Niger Republic. In 27-28 April 2013 thousand of youths  went on riot claiming to end injustice and marginalisation in the sector of the petroleum industry employment (C.NP.C)  leading the town of Diffa on the brink of anarchy. (Ngaressem, Magrin 2014). The Premier Minister made an emergency landing in Diffa to calmn down the irrate youths under some promises to address their protracted legitimate grevances. but the Nigerien Government failed to deliver its promises and Boko Haram seized the oppornuty to entice many youths to join their nebulous organisation as foot soldiers under the pretence of martydom or lucrative and lavilish life style once indoctrinated and enrolled in the core organization system. After the extrajudiacial killing of the charismatic founder of Boko Haram  Mohamed Yusuf in Maiduguri, his deputy in command took over the leadership of the insurection unleashing terror across the Lake Chad Basin enclave as Cameroon, Chad, and Niger causing havoc especially in the border regions. Since then Boko Haram escalated its attacks but also expanded its territorial geographical reach beyond Lake Chad shores.(Adeola and Oluyemi 2012).

A splinter group led by the Al-Barnawi recognised by ISIS as its franchise in West Africa Province seems to be a less atrocious faction of the insurgency and predisposes itself for negotiation with the Government of Lake Chad member States disceetly.

Nevertheless, the Al-Barnawi led faction presumed as lenient was also been responsible for mass abductions of 39 young girls and women at N’guelewa on 2 July, 2017 and many other nefarious activities on village chiefs, non governmental organisation workers, school teachers, and religious leaders in Diffa’s area.(RFI 2017).

Amidts apocalyptic series of Boko Haram’s mayhem in Niger Republic some scholars argue the rise of this radicalised movement and armed revolt are as a result of the high handedness of security approach and widening gap of regional socio-economic disparity (Sergie and Johnson 2015). Despite the massive deployment of troops on the frontline and collossal investment to provide last generation equipment and hardware to security forces the Boko Haram militants group increased the tempo of their attacks on Nigerien army outposts, school infrastructures, religious buildings, public institutions and until recently the insurgents engaged in cating away thousand of livestock at N’ guigmi and carried out suicide bombing to undermine substantially security and stability across the region, scaring away investors and shattering economic development. Since its emergence, Boko Haram forced more than 242,541 people to flee their homes for safety living in the internally diplaced person(IDP’s) camp and many other are in dire need of humanitarian needs having fled the group barbaric modus operandi tactics of onslaughts across urban and rural centers of Southeastern Niger Republic (Megaloudi and Lazuta 2015).

The insurgent movement abhors expatriates, businessmen, politicians,traditional rulers, religious clerics school teachers, security men whom are often forcelly taken hostages for ransom payment or mudered. It is also recurrent for militant to conscript in their rank children,women,and use them as human shields, child combattants, or sex slaves etc. In October 2016 the Nigerien Government offer a window of an amnesty opportunities for at least 100 repentants Boko Haram who were camped at Goudoumaria’s rebilitation center and are reintegrated  recently to their respective communities.

The Boko Haram insurgency from its local architecture at the initial stage metamorphosed as a regional threat that envelloped the Sahel and shores of Lake Chad Basin prompting a Multinational Joint Task Force military coalition between Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger to combat Boko Haram to standstill (Thurston 2017). The extremist sect has been supplied across the porous borders of Libya, Mali, Sudan through the vast Sahara desert by taking advantage of weak political environment cause by socio-economic malaise and rampant poverty.

Recently Boko Haram declared alligiance to the IS State of Iraq and Syria another global terror platform based in the middle-East but with strong operational nexus in Africa and other part of the world. It is also alleged from  various diplomatic and security sources that ISIS is sponsoring and providing logistics, intelligence support and ideological indoctrination to its affiliate in the Lake Chad region and the Sahel.(Cooper 2016).

 The target of  Boko Haram insurgent in the  lake Chad countries are mainly men, women, and children, this highlights that the group’s brutality  and barbarism know no bounds ( Kirby 2015). Kelly  (2015) listed  kidnapping, robbery, drugs, small arms, trading support from other terrorist group among others as sources of financing the culture of Boko Haram insurgency  in the Lake Chad basin.

Niger Republic Boko Haram’s wrath and recent attacks could be traced  to the country participation in the four nations coalition  forces to combat the militants and also to the bellicuous utterances of its President who openly carcatured Boko Haram militants as impostors, perverted lunatics and his participation to the funeral of charlie Hebdo journalists killed on the account of blasphemy of Islam in Paris.

Despite the enforcement of the state of emergency by Niger Government Boko Haram has sustained its violent activities in the Diffa region of Niger Republic. The operational tactics of the sect have been of concern to scholars who have written various academic papers on the modus operandi of Boko Haram. Eme and Ibietan (2012) analyze the origin and ideology of the sect, who they posit that Jama’atu AhlisSunnaLidda’awatiWal-Jihad better known as Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group that has a strong operational based in the northeast of Nigeria. The ideology of the sect according to them is to bring to an end the secular system of government and introduce sharia law.

Boko Haram escalation and its humanitarian crisis in Niger Republic

Niger Republic at the center of Sahel is subjected to intense geopolitical turmoil, remains a vulnerable link in the Sahel region surrounded by conflict torn countries such as Libya, Nigeria, Mali.(Ibrahima 2014). Despite this protracted legacy of security and stability its Southeast part of Diffa region border with Nigeria became ungovernable due to the uprising of terrorist organization  which took the whole sub-region into hostage with appalling  impact on life and properties of people.The movement outbreak sparked myriad of challenges resulting into humanitarian tragedy and mass diplacement of the population.

After nearly more a decade of crisis Niger government still lack effective strategy for dismantling the group activity and its rapid expansion in the area of Diffa. The situation escalated prompting large scale of humanitarian crisis with subsequent refugees and internal displaced  people  flux  within the lake Chad  enclave and also deadlocked socio-economic development of south east Niger.

The aftermath of Bosso attack ouppost in 2015 by Boko Haram additinal, new diplacement were recorded in Diffa region and toward the end  2018 about 127,000  people and 106,000 refugees remained displaced sheldered at various resettlment camp at Sayam, Kabelewa, Toumour and Diffa metropolis to accomodate them due to the escalation of Boko Haram activities inflicting severe damage against rural communities and thereby disrupting the agriculture, fishing, livestock markets and trade routes transactions along the Komadougou river shores. (Report of United Nations High Commissionner of Refugees 2018) This growing onslaught of the insurgents halted the basic needs of livelihood and trigged big scale displacement of population who depend forthwith on humanitarian aid to meet their basic food sustenance and living in dire need of health, shelter adequate water sanitation and higyene facilities provisions in inaccessible remote area to humanitarian workers. Moreover the the insurgent group shifted their modus operandi to hostages abduction, bank robberies as well as bombing scaring away potentials foreign and nationals investors to other safer and stable part of the world.

According to United Nations projections nearly 11 million people in the Lake Chad Basin region require urgent humanitarian assistance to assuage the food scarcity out which 242,541 people  are from southeast Niger of Diffa.

The humanitarian crisis is aggravated by the emboldened activities of Boko Haram having desastrous consequence on the security and stability of the Diffa region.The violent extremist and their alliances with other international terror group around the globe such as ISIS, Al-quaeda, Islamic maghreb, Movement for Unity and Jihad for West Africa (MUJAO) triggered unprecedented humanitarian crisis in recent history thereby escalating mass internal and refugees displacement of 2,5 million people across and within the various brders in the Lake Chad Basin enclave.Also the European-African Dialogue on Migration Development(2018) in its information graphic pointed out three main causes of forced displacement among others the devastating extremist sect Boko Haram effects and related Human Right violations accounting 92,9% of diplaced person (IOM 2016). Consequently the analysis figure of member states of Lake Chad Basin reprted a deteriorating condition in terms of food shortage and the unprobality of future projections whereby the humanitarian crisis in the region hampered 2017/2018 cereal production in the southeast Niger leading the region to face one of the threats of food insecurity cause by the violent extremism insurgency.(Tar and Bala 2020).

State of emergency and the deployment of security forces on the fronline in tackling Boko Haram violent extremism

On 10th February 2015 to tackle the crisis. Parliament met in extraordinary session  to authorize  the Nigerien armed forces to pursue the militants beyond the Nigerien border as part of the regional plan. It is accompanied by restrictive measures that seek  to cut off financial resources  flowing to insurgents and prevent its expansion into Nigerien territory. The government  banned the sale of peppers and fishing on the area after claiming that these transactions were  made to sponsor the movement activities. Also a curfew was imposed  and transport means were banned especially motorbikes which Boko Haram  use to launch cross border  raids.  Motorbikes are sources of income for the uneducated  youth with no other way of making their livelihood. The government in the same process to fight the insurgents closed down some markets suspected of supplying the Boko Haram movement. The security measures  have punished the population to remain without occupation and without income and dependent on foreign aid and international non-governmental organizations handout. The authorities blockade fuelled resentment of young  Nigeriens  who end up in the army of Boko Haram one of the few employment purveyors in the area.(Onuoha 2014).

Multinational Joint Task Force coalition of Lake Chad Basin and Benin Republic

In April 2012 the member states of Lake Chad and Benin Republic created the Multinational Joint Task Force with aim of combating transnational violent extremism in the region( Albert 2015). Though the MNJTF was formed in its initial stage in 1998 to fight crisis-border security related activities but later its mandate was shifted to coonect and engage in joint military operation against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. However the Multinational Joint Task Force embodies  a new security approach in the region. It becomes evidently a platform upon which African dealt multilateralism security regionalism rests as its operation mandate process endorsed by the African Union(A.u) during its Asembly Summit held on the 29 January 2015 in Addis Ababa. The Peace and Security Council l(PSC) of African Union gave the tacit approval for Multinational Joint Task Force deployment. Member countries of the Lake Chad Basin were mandated to constitute troops to figh Boko Haram  which has then hightened its offensives in Niger, Chad, Cameroon,and Nigeria with lethality. As action plan in accordnce to African Union’s decision of 29 January 2015 it was unamously agreed that 8,700 robust force to be sent at the headquarter of the Multinational Joint Task Force in N’djamena the Chadian capital with full authorisation to exert a right of hot pursuit on territorial integrity of each member states of the coalition force.

Additionally the Lake Chad Basin member states consented to harmoise a concept of operation as a crucial step in obtaining the United Nation’s legitimacy and most importantly funding of the MNJTF through the United Nations security Council (Tar & Mustapha 2015). Consequently in a bid to succeed member countries should transcend parochial national goals and hegemonic ambition to defend only the regional objective for the overall interest of the sub-region in general.

Boko Haram threat to Niger Republic stability and security

Despite the state of emergency that was declared by the Nigerien government Boko Haram has intensified its operation in the South-East of Niger where Boko Haram activities are concentrated. The activities of the sect have been of concern to scholars who have written various academic papers on the modus operandi of Boko Haram. Eme and Ibietan (2012) analyze the origin and ideology of the sect, from their analysis they posit that Jama’atu AhlisSunnaLidda’awatiWal-Jihad better known as Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group that has a strong operational based in the northeast of Nigeria. The ideology of the sect according them is to bring to an end the secular system of government and introduce sharia law . However, Lister (2012) did not subscribe to the notion that the Boko Haram aim is to Islamize Nigeria through the introduction of sharia law. According to him, the foot soldiers ( militants)  of the sect are disgruntled youths who have been paid by unscrupulous politicians to cause mayhem in the country because of their selfish ambitions. The high rate ofpoverty, unemployment and political corruption has been blamed on the elongation of the conflict. Most of the foot soldiers of Boko Haram are youths that are frustrated because the lack employment, income and they have been disdained by politicians after being used by these politicians

  Initially, they attack churches and law enforcement agents. As they increase in number and apparent slow response from the government, anybody, institutions in Niger irrespective of whom and where is subject to attack by the sect. In his contribution to the attacks by Boko Haram, Adetiloye (2014), opined that the group attacked and destroy churches, mosques, schools, police stations and private and public owned facilities. He concluded that Boko Haram is the most dangerous insurgent group .By their belief and activities it suggests that they are among the global terrorists network. They kidnap, engage in suicide bombing etc. supporting the claim that Boko Haram is a terrorist group, Ali et al (2012), said that the manifestation of terrorism include hijacking, suicide attack, self-suicide bombing etc. which is the attack formula often adopted by the Boko Haram. These seem to suggest that the group is an affiliate of international terrorist network. Their activities generate other adverse effects which include destabilization of regions, resource flows and market; the blossoming of transnational crime, humanitarian disasters, and transnational terrorism (Metz 2007)

Ever since, 2009 has witnessed considerable decline as people and properties have being subjected to attacks by the insurgents. Boko Haram killed many people and destroyed properties valued at over  billions dollars. They torched building, stole properties and thereby destroying livelihoods of farmers and forcing hundreds of business to close or relocate. The concentration of these sect members  on  the border villages of Komadougou  and lake Chad shore that are noted for agricultural activities poses a threat to food security in the region  (Norther Borno Blueprint 2019).. The effects of insurgency on stability and security could be explained from many fronts. However, depending on the aims and objectives of the insurgents, government approach at tackling it, may expose the economy. For instance, government approach to curbing insurgency by closing international borders may affect the flow of commodities resulting to loss of revenue (Collier, 2003, Balami, 2000, and  O’ Neil 2005). In the same vein, imposition of curfew as well as multiple military/police check-point as a security measure restricts business transactions. On the side of agricultural sector, larger percentage of the population  are involved in farming, this include animal rearing. Insurgent destroyed large hectares of farmland. Also millions of livestock have been adversely affected. The fishing industry was also affected as over a million fishermen emigrated to safer places within the country or neighboring countries (Collier 2003, Merrick, 2014, Berdel &Kenn, 1997).. In addition a Northern Borno Mandate Bueprint(2019) report indicated that Boko Haram epissode which has engulfled the  Northeastern part of Nigeria, Niger Republic and also spread far and near, has caused serious psychological and physical destruction to many communities: community schools, hospitals, houses roads,water supply etc have been destroyed. The resultant destruction was so wantom to the extent that some villages and towns were swept out of the map jeopardising national security and stability Moreover the the insurgent group shifted their modus operandi to hostages abduction, bank robberies as well as bombing scaring away potentials foreign and nationals investors to other safer and stable part of the world.

The peril of the violent religious extremism Insurgency on the corporate existence of the country

Niger Republic at the heart of an area subject to intense geopolitical turmoil, remains a vulnerable link in the Sahel region. Despite the frantic effort of Nigerien Government and Lake Chad member states alliance coalition force just concluded Boko Haram remained undeterred posing threat to the survival of national integrity. Also the country has yet to deal with immense economic and demographic challenges which affect all sphere of life. The cross-border instability from Mali, Libya and Nigeria has shifted the government main focus of socio- economic renaissance policy to security issue exclusively. Although the Nigerien authority were expecting to defeat Boko Haram in a shortest period of time the militants doggedly struck on 6-8 February the town of  Bosso and Diffa which clearly indicated that the war against the insurgents is a real threat to the corporate existence of the Niger unity and integrity.

In April 2015 , Boko Haram launched another successful attacks on Nigeriens positions on Karamga island which was the first reliable signal that it had established  a sanctuary in the northern part of lake Chad. Subsequently in July the insurgents  attacked Diffa prison without success as they failed to release prisoners.

Despite its weakened military capablity Boko Haram at the end of 2016 year raided the districts of Gueskerou, Bosso, and Toumour in the South east crossing the border freely to impose hefty taxes on villagers and strike military outposts at will such as Gueskerou in 20 January 2017. The counter insurgency inflicted a severe blow to the Nigerien budget allocations increasing endlessly the expenditures to provide equipment and military hardware to the army. About 11% of Niger budget are dedicated to security and defense to protect the country stability and security from the aggression of the violent extremist group. The financial growth of Niger shrank exponentially and government inability to pay civil servants salary escalated to protest in the judiciary, education heath ,and Universities leading to social unrest. The Nigerien government declare a state of emergency on February 2015 to forestall the further desintegration of the country and its contagious syndrome to other part of Niger territory.

Moreover  the government has orchestrated deliberate mass displacement of people  in the hope of halting Boko Haram’s infiltration in the civilians population.Since then influx of refugees and internally displaced person along  Komadougou Yobe  river have been evacuated  and resettled in  safer zone.

Boko Haram destabilisation mission on socio-economic Development of Niger Republic

The Boko Haram threat has severe impact , not only for Niger Rrepublic civilian population but also for the country »s  economic and social  stability. As Niger represents a strategically important  partner for France and European Union, both economically, due to Uranium-based trade links and geostrategically as the counterinsurgency partner in the Sahel space. The foreign investment  in Southeast has moved out elsewhere as investors are scared away by insecurity prevailing in the land. Okorie  rightly argues that the severe security threat to life and property all over the country  sends wrong signals to the international community  stating that Economic globalization is not just an historical evolution but also a process (Okorie 2011:26). In the Diffa region of Niger multinational corporation like  Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) involved in oil exploitation were scared away by Boko Haram activities dashing huge economic input and expectations of people because oil discovery.

The Diffa region lacks national investment in term of  economic and infrastructural development  of  the government as the pipeline project to export crude oil through Chad Republic to Cameroon port of Kribi stopped because of the Bok Haram crisis. The population main activities of farming, fishing and livestock were crippled from both  insurgents activities and counter -insurgency measures taken by Nigerien authorities to tackle the issue. Moreover  the ban of means of transport  and commercial local businesses have created an economic and social strangulation of the area forcing refugees and internal displaced people to languish in poverty and rely on foreign aids. The import of goods and services from  Maiduguri and  export of fish, pepper and livestock  from Diffa were banned due to Boko Haram and the state of emergency declared in Southeast Niger 2015 starving economically the zone. In furtherance of  counterinsurgency strategy the government closed down  villages markets such as, Gagamari, Kindjaidi, which compounded  economic blockade compromising the prosperity and development of  Diffa region. 

Apart from the economic stalemate Boko Haram has created social problems with constant attacks on people and properties and its gory image of thousand of internally displaced  people and refugees sheltered in various camps for their safety in Niger. The Boko Haram activities have destroyed, villages, schools, place of worship, heath and security facilities to destabilized social development but also instill fear in the mind of people.  The situation  has cause havoc cultural activities of the people living around lake Chad area such as marriage, naming ceremony and  religious gathering to avoid improvised explosive devices or surprise attack tactics of  Boko Haram.  The religious leaders and traditional rulers  who are custodian of cultural values live in hidden for fear of unknown depicting the insurgents as forces of disorganizing the religious, social , and cultural stratum of the society.  It is also noticed that Boko Haram is eroding inter-communal  harmony between  communities on the island and shores of  lake Chad as indigenes and non indigenes sometimes resulting to bloody clashes.

On recent time in Niger  Boko Haram abducted  thirty nine  children to unknown destination  despite assurances  of government of  rescue them alive people are skeptical and put under question the government capability to tackle the Boko Haram once and for all.

Reintegration, Rehabilitation and deradicalisation of Repentants Boko Haram combattants

After more than a decade Boko Haram remained still a threat to the overall stability and security of Niger in particular and Lake Chad region in general. However the military approach earlier adopted to subdue insurgency in southeast Niger Republic has not yielded meaningul result. Consequently there is a need to shift the counter insurgency strategy for a more constructive and peaceful means susceptible to at least minimize the abysmall tragedy unfolding daily in Diffa region of Niger. One of the approach is to extend olive branch to combattants who desire to repent in laying down arms and return back into the community. This initiative of reintegration of repentants militants can be achieved by providing necessary political, economic,and social reforms by involving stakeholders such as traditional rulers, community based organisation, religious group, Associations of youth, women, and professionals etc and rescind the use of force  to encourage  popular support. Thus in December 2016 there were hope in this direction, when the Nigerien authority suggested an amnesty deal to the combattants who formally gave up violent extremism in a good faith be re integrated in to the community and assisted through a rehabilitation vocational training to increase socio-professional opportunities for repentants.The process of reintegration is extremely sensitive and requires appropriate support as well as opportunities to develop the skills needed to return to life in the community under the code named Kanuri proverb of Kallo Lenio Founna which means(Lets move forward toghether).. The approach uses a multidenmentional strategy to support the individual and collective transfer of the former Boko Haram through various activities such as group discussion, participatory theater and phycosocial therapy  Consequently to the Government appeal on 27 December 2016 about 30 combattants surrended  and admitted in to a rehabilitation center at Goudoumaria. Thus these former Boko Haram were joined by many other militants rising the total number of 110 combattants among them 47 Nigerians in a well designed and funded pardonning and reintegration policy could stimulate a wave of demobilisation and disarmament of insurgents help to heal wounds on durable ground. Niger’s partners supported this steps, especially the establishment and supervision of the transit rehabilitation camp. After few years the former combattants reintegrated their respective commnunities after an official ceremony at Goudoumaria on December 2019 under the auspices of partners and national and neighborig authoririties. This approach if sustained will be another strategic panacea toward ending violent extreminism in the sahel sub-region.

Conclusion

Boko Haram insurgency incubated and rose up as one of the international terror network which came to limelight in 2009 committing genocidal atrocities throughout the Lake Chad Basin prompting a wave of global outcry and abominations. The sect emergence constituted a major threat to the stability and security of the region but also jeopardised the corporate existence of Niger Republic as a country sparking daunting challenges of endless quagmire of  humanitarian crisis with its subsequent mass internal displacement and refugees flooding Niger Republic. Despite the state of emergency and the creation of multinational forces to tackle the insurgency, Diffa region  still remains under the threat of Boko Haram destroying public and private properties hampering  development and peace to take its course in the Sahel sub-region.  

However the issue of violent extremism in the Lake Chad Basin can be surmounted if the member states of the region come up into synergy and envisage a shift in the military strategy by implementing a robust Marshall plan to fight structural underdevelopment and socio-economic anomie of the area badly affected by sInsurgency. It is therefore imperative to treat the illness rather than  the symptom as Boko Haram is intertwined to poverty, bad governance, illiteracy, impunity and marginalisation which need to be ended prior to the annihilation of the insurgency. 

Therefore it is imperative to counter the insurgency through developmental approach rather than exclusive military might. Basically if the daunting challenges of illiteracy, poverty, unemployment of youth and basic needs of people are tackled Boko Haram violent extremism will at least be curbed significantly in the sub-region.

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Author
Abba Gana Wakil Mahamadou
Religious Extremism Expert
Abba Gana is a Master Degree in Arts Cultural Sustainability of University of Maiduguri. He is an an active member of civil society organization in Niger and author of many publications on social and political issues in National dailies and academic journals.

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