Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nigeria: President Declares State of Emergency in States of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe

According to The Associated Press, President Goodluck Jonathan announced that effective Tuesday (May 14), he has acknowledged that Islamic extremists now control some of his nation's villages and towns.

Consequently, Jonathan said the state of emergency will be in force in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. He said that these states will receive more troops, though he will not remove state politicians from their posts. Under Nigerian law, the president has the power to remove politicians from their posts and install a caretaker government in emergency circumstances.

President Jonathan, speaking live on state radio and television networks, also warned that any building suspected to house Islamic extremists would be taken over in what he described as the "war" now facing Africa's most populous nation.

The president's speech offered the starkest vision of the ongoing violence, often downplayed by security forces and government officials due to political considerations. Jonathan described the attacks as a "rebellion," at one point describing how fighters had destroyed government buildings and "had taken women and children as hostages.....Already some northern parts of Borno state have been taken over by groups whose allegiance are to different flags than Nigeria's,"the president emphasized.
COMMENT: Since 2010, more than 1,600 people have been killed in attacks by Islamic insurgents. Recently, Nigeria's military has said Islamic fighters now use anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks to fight the nation's soldiers, outgunning the country's already overtaxed security forces.

One of the main Islamic extremist groups fighting Nigeria's weak central government is Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north.

The group has said it wants its imprisoned members freed and strict Islamic law adopted across the multi-ethnic nation of more than 160 million people. It has produced several splinter groups, and analysts say its members have contact with two other al-Qaeda-linked groups in Africa.

It remains unclear how much effect Jonathan's announcement will have. In late December 2011, Jonathan declared a similar state of emergency over parts of four states, including Borno and Yobe. The extremist attacks continued unabated, despite the state of emergency.

If at all possible, it would be prudent for foreign nationals in Nigeria to avoid the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe if at all possible, unless they are currently working in these states. 

If foreigners must work in the three states designated as being under the state of emergency, they should carry their passport at all times and develop a keen sense of security awareness, as an increase in hostilities in these states should be anticipated.