© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
The figures that show Boko Haram was stronger in 2017 than in 2016
A research by the BBC has invalidated repeated claims by the Nigerian government that Boko Haram has largely been overpowered.
In fact, the terrorist group carried out a total of 150 attacks in 2017, higher than the 127 attacks it mounted in 2016.
“In both years the group launched its highest number of attacks in January, with both these spikes followed by President Buhari’s claims that Boko Haram had met its demise,” the report read.
Of the four countries where Boko Haram is present, Nigeria witnessed 109 attacks in 2017 as against 80 in 2016; Cameroon was attacked 26 times in 2016 but it rose to 32 in 2017; Chad witnessed two attacks in 2017, an improvement from the three attacks the previous year; while Niger enjoyed a much more peaceful 2017, recording only seven Boko Haram attacks as opposed to 18 in 2016.
With regard to the methods of attack, the terrorists mounted 90 armed assaults and 59 suicide attacks in 2017, an increase from the 52 and 19 armed assaults and suicide attacks, respectively, in 2016.
In Nigeria alone, the insurgents increased their suicide attacks from 19 in 2016 to 38 in 2017.
“Suicide attacks were the most common method of attack in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, which continues to be the epicentre of the insurgency, whereas armed assaults were more common elsewhere,” the report noted.
“At least 967 people were reportedly killed by Boko Haram attacks in 2017, an increase on the previous year when 910 deaths were reported.
“The highest concentration of fatalities in 2017 was in Maiduguri, which has seen its population double to 2 million in recent years, as people flee Boko Haram violence in rural areas.
“Elsewhere in Nigeria, there were also high concentrations of fatalities in the localities of Magumeri, Konduga, Damaturu and Mubi.”
However, the purported alliance between Boko Haram and ISIS remains doubtful, as only 13 of the attacks by Boko Haram were claimed by ISIS, “suggesting [that] operational links between the two groups are weak”.
Offering some insight as to what could be responsible for the seeming inability of the Nigerian military to really contain the insurgents, Tomi Oladipo, BBC’s Nigerian correspondent, said the problem is traceable to the poor equipping of the Nigerian troops, adding, however, that “this may change in 2018, with the US agreeing to sell weapons to Nigeria”.
“Until then, the group looks set to remain a significant threat,” Oladipo said.
“Despite repeated claims by the Nigerian government about Boko Haram’s demise, the group’s different factions continue to threaten the stability of Nigeria’s North East and the wider Lake Chad Basin area.
“Over the years, the ability of the jihadists to blend into local communities, or to conceal themselves in the vast terrains of the region, has aided their campaign of violence.”