The so-called weakened Boko Haram sect seems to be reborn from its ashes in northeastern Nigeria, where it has intensified attacks on military bases. Why this upsurge of attacks when the Nigerian army is deployed on many fronts across the country?
Northeastern Nigeria has been the scene of several attacks by the ISIS group in West Africa over the Nigerian military bases in recent months . For example, on November 23, the jihadist group claimed to have killed 118 Nigerian soldiers in five attacks on military bases in the north-east of the country. Also, on January 2, five Nigerian soldiers died when their helicopter crashed while on a support mission during the attack on the Damasak base in Borno State (north-east) by jihadists. .
Jihadists seize the ammunition of the Nigerian army
The fighters of the ISWAP managed to accumulate in recent months a powerful war arsenal through successive looting attacked military bases, but also arms trafficking from other African countries.
The temporary take of the city of Baga on December 27 is an illustration. More than 600 soldiers of the Multinational Joint Force ( MNJTF ) cornered by the attackers had to flee.
As with every attack, the jihadists took advantage of seizing weapons, ammunition and vehicles stored on this strategic base of the shores of Lake Chad. “Boko Haram, is better equipped than the soldiers,” says AFP a militia engaged alongside the army in the region, Sanda Kime.
“There is a shortage of weapons and ammunition for our troops. This is a serious problem, “says Amaechi Nwokolo, a researcher at the Abuja Roman Institute of Security Studies.
The exponential increase in arms trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa has greatly favored ISWAPin its arms race. Thus, they were able to acquire “more sophisticated” material from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East via Sudan, according to Yan St Pierre, counterterrorism consultant for the firm MOSECON .
A demoralized army
Engaged on several front, the morale of the Nigerian troops is at the lowest. “They (the troops) were pushed to their limit”, considers the researcher Amaechi Nwokolo.
The army had recorded major military successes at the end of 2015, driving jihadists out of areas under their control, but since then the group has adopted guerrilla tactics that are difficult to counter.
By the end of 2015, the army had recorded significant victories, defeating the jihadists of entire areas of territory under their control. But since the group has multiplied different guerrilla strategies difficult to counter.
In August, hundreds of soldiers demonstrated at the Maiduguri airport, the capital of Borno State, in the north-east, shooting in the air, to express their exhaustion after four years on the front line. without relays or with too few permissions to return to see their loved ones.
Jihadists appeal to external forces
In his New Year message, Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, said that jihadists now include foreign fighters in the ISIS organization. (EI).
“We have witnessed (…) the arrival of highly experienced and skilled fighters and technologies when elements of the IS were driven out of Syria and transferred to northeastern Nigeria,” he said.
Rumors that Boko Haram is recruiting abroad are not new, but in recent months many testimonies, supported by several experts, are moving in this direction.
Moreover, according to this specialist, the ISWAP has been conducting an intensive recruitment campaign in Nigeria and in neighboring countries like Niger and Chad for six months, where its imams are multiplying the sermons to present the jihadist group as a “credible and legitimate” alternative to the government as the February presidential election comes closer to which President Muhammadu Buhari represents himself.