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Expect Further Nigeria Violence, Warns Analyst, After Suspected Boko Haram Assault

posted 8 May 2013, 10:21 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 May 2013, 10:21 ]

A lawyer and human rights activist warns of further unrest in Nigeria after a suspected Boko Haram attack in the north east of the country freed over 100 prisoners and left 55 dead.

 LAGOSNIGERIA (MAY 8, 2013) (REUTERS) - Analyst in Nigeria warns of further unrest after suspected members of the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram armed with machine guns laid siege on the north-eastern town of Bama on Tuesday (May 7), freeing over 100 prison inmates and leaving 55 people dead.

Around 200 heavily armed members of Boko Haram arrived in buses and pick-up trucks and carried out a co-ordinated strike, first hitting the army barracks and the police station before breaking into the town's prison, the military reported.

Ememanka Onyebuchi, lawyer and human rights activist based in Lagos says violence in Maiduguri is a reflection of the Nigerian government's inability to tackle the security situation in the country,

"Maiduguri has become a signpost for our collective failure as a nation, collective failure in leadership of the failure of the security agencies to tackle internal security issues. Maiduguri has become a synonym for our failure as a nation. The most fundamental assignment of the government is to secure its citizens and make people feel safe within the boundaries of the nation, Maiduguri has shown that our government is unable to secure our citizens and bloodshed has been the order of the day in that town," the lawyer said.

Gunmen freed 105 prisoners during the raid which lasted almost five hours.

Twenty two police officers, 14 prison officials, two soldiers and four civilians were killed, while 13 of the group's own members died, in what was one of the rebel's most deadly single strikes since a 2009 uprising.

"One would assume that even if the government is unable to tackle these militants, these renegades, they should at least be able to put up emergency assistance for the citizens but none of these things happen that is why it is actually very disturbing and confusing. For me I blame it squarely on leadership failure, if you're unable to fight the people who fight your citizens, you should be at least able to provide quick response, quick emergency assistance to these people," Ememanka said.

Bama is a small, remote town in north-eastern Borno, Boko Haram's home state, and has been the nucleus of the attacks.

The human rights activist added that residents in other parts of the country now live in fear of the Boko Haram spreading its insurgency.

"There is a genuine fear, genuine threat of ripple effect in other parts of the country because there is this lack of belief in Nigeria as a country, people are more inclined to identify with their tribal blocs than the country as a whole and that is one of the tragedies of this nation," he said.

The Boko Haram sect and offshoots such as the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru, as well as associated criminal networks, pose the main threat to stability in Africa's top energy producer.

Western governments are increasingly concerned about Nigerian militants linking up with other jihadist groups in the West African region.

Boko Haram wants to carve out an Islamic state in a country split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.

One of its chief demands is that its imprisoned members and family members are released. It has carried out several prison breaks.

Attacks by Boko Haram have killed more than 3,000 people since 2009, based on figures from Human Rights Watch.

Violence in Nigeria's northeast has shown no signs of abating.

Clashes between Islamists and a multinational force from NigeriaNiger and Chadkilled dozens of people last month.

A senator who visited the site said 228 people were killed, but the military puts the figure at 37.

President, Goodluck Jonathan has set up a committee to work through terms of an amnesty for the rebels but their leader, Abubakar Shekau, has shown no interest in negotiation so far.