A Nigerian federal court on Oct. 30 ruled in favor of the Bring Back Our Girls group, saying that the police had no right to block protests in Nigeria. Earlier this year, the Bring Back Our Girls activists began daily sit-ins at the Unity Fountain in the capital city Abuja to press their demands for the release of the 219 school girls that were abducted by insurgents in Chibok. Soon after, former Federal Capital Territory (FTC) Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu banned the group from holding further protests. In the new ruling, Justice Ebenezer Aladetoyinbo declared the law does not authorize the police to disrupt rallies or processions about the abducted girls. The judgment is applauded as a victory for the group. It is unclear whether the police will appeal, but the lawyer for the police said that the judgment would be studied.
Militant group Boko Haram has forced kidnapped women and girls to marry their captors and begun using them for military tactical purposes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Oct. 27. HRW interviewed 30 individuals who were abducted by the group between April 2013 and April 2014 and later managed to escape, and 16 others who saw the abductions. Among those interviewed were 12 girls who were among the approximately 300 abducted from a school in Chibok in April. According to the advocacy group, more than 500 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2009, about 30 of whom were taken just last week. The group, taken from Borno state, included girls as young as 11. At least 40 women and girls were taken in Adamawa a week prior, despite government claims of a ceasefire deal. Once at the camps, the kidnapped girls are reportedly forced to perform household chores and are often exposed to rape, forced marriage and violence. One woman recounted that she was threatened with death until she converted to Islam. HRW criticized authorities for not doing enough to prevent the kidnappings, for not working to bring the perpetrators to justice, and for not providing survivors with adequate support and medical care.
Over the past five days, Boko Haram has seized five towns in Nigeria's northeast, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of residents fleeing for safety as it continues its quest to establish a "caliphate" in the country. The towns captured include Bara in Yobe state, Banki and Bamain Borno state, and Madagali and Gulakwere in Adamawa state. Boko Haram forces were driven from Bama, in Borno state, after intense aerial bombardment by Nigeria's air force Sept. 7. Tension is mounting in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, amid fears that the insurgents are mounting an offensive on the city. Further territorial gains by Boko Haram could worsen a dire humanitarian situation. Thousands of refugees have sought sanctuary in Maiduguri, and the UN estimates that 9,000 fleeing violence have arrived in Cameroon in the past ten days, with another 2,000 crossing into Niger, which has already taken in 50,000 refugees since May 2013. (The Punch, ThisDayLive, Nigeria; Leadership, Nigeria, via AllAfrica, Sept. 7; The Economist, Sept. 6)
Amnesty International has released gruesome video footage, along with images and testimonies the group provide fresh evidence of war crimes, including extrajudicial executions, being carried out in northeastern Nigeria as the fight by the military against Boko Haram and other armed groups intensifies. The footage, obtained from numerous sources during a recent trip to Borno state, includes horrific images of detainees having their throats slit one-by-one and dumped in mass graves by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military and the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a state-sponsored militia. Several of the armed captors are wearing uniforms emblazoned with the words “Borno State Operation Flush." Said Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty: "What does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film? These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa."
Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram's is increasingly troubling the remote Far North Region of Cameroon, which has seen several attacks in recent months, with foreigners also abducted for ransom. This month, heavily armed men suspected to be Boko Haram fighters attacked Bonderi village, five kilometers from the border with Nigeria, and stole a military vehicle, four motorbikes and weapons from the gendarmerie base there, government officials told IRIN news agency. Another group of suspected Boko Haram gunmen also raided a gendarmerie border post in Zina town on July 8, three days prior to the Bonderi attack, and stole guns and ammunition. In June, two teenage sons of a Muslim cleric were kidnapped in Limani border town. The attacks, the latest of which claimed the life of a police officer and wounded another on July 18, have occurred despite the deployment in June of 1,000 additional soldiers to the Far North.
Gunmen killed at least eight people and burned down a church in attacks on two villages in Nigeria's central Plateau state, authorities reported June 11. Security officials said they are investigating who is behind the attacks in Nigeria's Middle Belt, where the largely Muslim north and Christian south meet. (Reuters, June 11) Two days earlier, more than 30 Fulani women were abducted by gunmen in three clustered settlements near the Borno state town of Chibok, where more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in April. Local sources said that gunmen stormed the settlements of Bakin Kogi, Garkin Fulani and Rugar Hardo and carried off the women in vehicles. Local Fulani men have launched a mobilization to rescue the abducted women. (The Guardian, Nigeria, June 9)
The United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad to assist in efforts to find the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, who are believed to have been absconded across the border. "The force, made up largely of Air Force personnel, will conduct surveillance flights and operate drone aircraft but will not participate in ground searches," the Washington Post informs us. While the deployment was announced by President Obama in a "War Powers Notification" letter sent to House and Senate leadership, the troops are actually there to maintain the drones—not to actually tramp through the forests in search for the missing girls. The drones are ostensibly unarmed and only for surveillance purposes. (Mashable, May 21)
A team of six US military advisors has arrived in Nigeria to assist in the search for the abducted girls, now said to number 276, and provide intelligence on the captors, militant group Boko Haram. Nine more advisors are en route. Not exactly a massive intervention, although a State Department spokesperson did say, "If there are needs for more, we'll continue to assess that." (NBC) However, judging from the reaction in the "left" and conspiranoid blogosphere, you'd think it was Operation Nigerian Freedom. There's something sickeninigly inappropriate about greater concern for the 15 military advisors than the 276 missing girls. But given how these screeds are being forwarded around cyberspace by animated partisans, we feel compelled to dive into the muck and do a little deconstructing, facile as it is...