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Thread: Nigeria 2013-2017

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    Default How to Deal with Nigeria's Boko Haram: A Primer

    How to Deal with Nigeria's Boko Haram: A Primer

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    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
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    Default Nigeria 2013-2017

    Moderator Adds

    Post edited down for use on this new thread, it originally appeared on the AFRICOM stands up thread. There are several posts there which give some background:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=6167&page=18

    Today, 6th December 2013, this thread 'Nigeria's future: where to start?' was renamed 'Nigeria: watching and debating its future' and becomes the current thread. The older, longer thread ' ' has now been closed, with a final post explaining why.(ends).

    I'm Nigerian, I live in Nigeria - and even if you casually dismiss history with a wave of a hand, I wont. I've seen 15,000 dead since 1999, a clash of civilizations with Sharia in the North and Evangelical Christianity rising in the South.

    Who could have dreamed up such a time bomb - the British, who had no interest in understanding the situation on the ground, just grabbing resources for the home counties.

    These things will be settled, with much blood & zero input from the West - we saw it Yugoslavia. That is Nigeria's trajectory. We could have a discussion on that.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-05-2013 at 06:50 PM. Reason: Moderator's Note updated

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    Default Yugoslavia - is that is Nigeria's path to the future?

    Kingjaja,

    The break-up of Yugoslavia pre-dates SWJ, it does sometimes appear in posts and there is at least one SWJ article:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...-of-bosnia-and

    Europe, particularly Western Europe, would prefer not to remember what happened and much political plus effort has been expended to make amends. As last week proved in Kosovo local tensions can lead to skirmishing:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24798397

    The Balkans have a long history, largely out of sight when part of the Ottoman / Turkish Empire; where religion, tribe, community and more intersect in close proximity. Partnership did happen - in peace and war - and Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina's main city and provincial capital) was noted for the extent of inter-marriage.

    It took several days of violence and barbarity - my reading blames the Serbian extremists - to force everyone to "take a side" and so fracture communal partnership.

    Today there is a sort of peace in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, with each nation-state joining or aspiring to EU status (Slovenia, the smallest, most homogeneous and with the most peaceful escape joined the EU sometime ago).

    Is Nigeria on the same trajectory? I don't know, but the Bosnian experience provides some clear warnings.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Nigeria's future: where to start?

    Kingjaja suggested a discussion, so a new thread appears. Nigeria's size alone makes it important, let alone its complexity and wealth. Maybe first for Africa, then the rest of the world.

    This will appear first until two posts from the AFRICOM thread where Kingjaja made his suggestion will appear, are moved.

    Now let the discussion begin.

    Incidentally I don't envisage external intervention in a future Nigeria, on the scale seen in former Yugoslavia.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-09-2013 at 11:56 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    davidbfpo,

    Sadly, Nigeria is on the same trajectory.

    Most foreign analysts concentrate on Boko Haram or the Niger Delta crisis, because they fit easy categories (War on terror & Energy security).

    Having said that, Nigeria's most deadly fault-lines are in the Middle Belt - where the former Sokoto Caliphate & Kanem-Bornu Empire meet Christianised ethnic groups.

    Nowhere is this more visible than in the Middle Belt's most important cities - Kaduna & Jos. In Kaduna, a river separates the Christian part of the city from the Muslim part. When I traveled to Kaduna, I was advised to land at a Abuja & travel to Kaduna from the South (since I was a Christian). Muslims are advised to land at Kaduna airport & pass through Muslim populated parts of the city.

    Sharia law is implemented some states in that part of Nigeria & while "multi-culturally educated Western intellectuals" can advance sophisticated arguments in favour of Shari'a law - Nigerian Evangelicals will not.

    And the average poorly educated conservative Nigerian Muslim doesn't see the need for sophistication either. So people fight & kill.

    The anti-Shari'a riots tore Kaduna apart. Since 1999 about 15,000 people have died in inter-communal clashes (ethnic animosities tinged with religion). One can see clear fault lines there.

    This thing isn't going to stop. Nobody is going to stop the Saudis from sending Wahabbi preachers or sponsoring religious students. Nobody is going stop American TV evangelists. The nation is bifurcating there.

    And that is only one fault line.

    So Nigeria's future is like Yugoslavia - only worse, we are a lot poorer, a lot more violent and there are more of us.

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    Default Can there be a Nigeria without oil?

    80% of Nigeria's govt spending is from oil money - that is why the Niger Delta militancy is a very serious problem.

    But even with that, it is estimated that about 150,000 bpd is stolen from the Niger Delta. So in essence we are going to witness the growth of South American style cartels in the Niger Delta, challenging the Nigerian state's monopoly of violence.

    You have an army taxed with maintaining internal security in opposite parts of Nigeria (North and South) - & there are already reports of grumbling among the rank and file.

    But there are global headwinds that are not in our favour. Shale oil means that Nigeria will lose a very important customer, the United States. Crude could fall to $80 a barrel next decade.

    In the long term, crude reserves will be depleted - so what will bind Nigeria's people? Will the Niger Delta be willing to subsidise the existence of the rest of Nigeria? I doubt it.

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    KingJaja,

    So Nigeria's future is like Yugoslavia - only worse, we are a lot poorer, a lot more violent and there are more of us.
    I question two of your assertions here, first the level of violence in Yugoslavia was on par with anything seen in Africa, and poverty in Eastern Europe was shockingly deep outside the cities. I am showing by bias because I didn't think European countries would ever be like that. The one thing that is non-disputable is you have many more people.

    I have heard claims of Nigeria's imminent fall for well over 15 years, and while I agree the trend line is troubling yet your country seems remarkably resilient to what would cause other countries to collapse. On the other hand if your predictions are correct then I agree the situation will be dire for a number of reasons. Since Nigeria is the heart of ECOWAS who will be willing to step up and lead a regional response to support Nigeria? The West is exhausted and broke after 10 plus years of failed nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it is unlikely they'll have the political will to intervene. Though Nigeria is more important strategically than the Sudan, I suspect Sudan will be the model of our response.

    If your right and the fault lines give in Nigeria how will that impact the rest of the region? I can't see these conflicts being contained within your borders.

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    Bill Moore,

    I have heard claims of Nigeria's imminent fall for well over 15 years, and while I agree the trend line is troubling yet your country seems remarkably resilient to what would cause other countries to collapse. On the other hand if your predictions are correct then I agree the situation will be dire for a number of reasons. Since Nigeria is the heart of ECOWAS who will be willing to step up and lead a regional response to support Nigeria? The West is exhausted and broke after 10 plus years of failed nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it is unlikely they'll have the political will to intervene. Though Nigeria is more important strategically than the Sudan, I suspect Sudan will be the model of our response.
    Things are progressively getting worse, state authority is eroding steadily. Government is losing monopoly of violence and respect.

    It is much easier to reverse a sharp decline than to reverse a slow, steady decline over several decades - such a decline tends to be irreversible.

    That is Nigeria's problem. The implosion will happen, not tomorrow, but it will happen.

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    Default Website of Iranian style Islamic organisation in Nigeria

    Is there a limit to diversity? Look at this website, I'm a Christian from Southern Nigeria - we have organisations like this in Nigeria. Why am I part of the same nation as these people? Does this nation Nigeria, make any sense?

    This is the link to the website: http://www.islamicmovement.org/

    What exactly is a sense of national cohesion supposed to be built on? Can US influenced Evangelicals co-exist in peace with folks like this? No.

    That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Nigeria. It is not a cohesive entity by any stretch of imagination. There's nothing binding these people together save a desire by the elite to share money made from crude oil sales.

    Now all you folks are a lot smarter than I am - please someone should tell me how this "diversity" (coupled with very low literacy rates) will not lead to an ongoing "clash of civilizations"?

    Nigeria is more complex than either Pakistan, Afghanistan or Syria - none of the aforementioned nations have several Evangelical churches that seat congregations of 14,000 and above.

    This picture depicts an Evangelical auditorium at the opposite end of Nigeria (the South) that can accommodate one million worshipers



    This congregation recorded over 60,000 babies born between August 10, 2011 & August 10, 2012 alone!!

    It isn't the only Evangelical congregation in Nigeria, and it might not be the largest!!

    Nigeria is like having Jerry Falwell & Ayatollah Khomeini in one nation. Also imagine that both men's influence in politics is steadily rising as the years go by.

    Question: can even the United States of America manage that kind of diversity, talk less a much poorer & much more artificial Nigeria?

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    http://www.islamicmovement.org/index...141&Itemid=161

    Nigeria at 50: what next?

    Translated from Hausa by Abdul Mumin Giwa


    Where then is the problem, what is the trouble? Why refusing Islam when it allows you to practice your Christianity? Islam will not stop you from practicing your religion whether Christian or traditional. But it is not right for you to insist that you have right and that your right is that the majority keeps aside his own right. It is not the right of the minority for the majority to follow him.

    There is an end to everything there is n end to the continued suppression of Islam. I know there will not be that round table decision on the way out for the country but definitely when the time comes Islam shall be established. We cannot possibly continue to stay like that whereas the Qur’an is there instructing us on what to do and we are believers in Islam. Whether you accept or not, Islam is on the rise and you cannot stop it. This is the reality and you cannot fight against reality. By the grace of God Almighty Islam is the destiny of this nation and this shall come to pass.
    KingJaja

    An excerpt from a speech found on the website you provided a link too. These are strong words, but they're just words. In the US we have left wings groups who want to establish a communist system, right wing groups who want to establish an Aryan Nation in the northwest, Islamists who want to establish Sharia law, etc., and if you read their websites you would think the world is falling, but the reality is none of these groups have the coercive power or power of attractive ideas to realize their visions. I agree the threat is more dangerous in your country, but I don't think the Christians and Animists will succumb to Islamic rule outside of the north. The potential for the bloodshed is definitely there, though it seems pretty high already to me.

    I think you made a good point when you wrote,

    It is much easier to reverse a sharp decline than to reverse a slow, steady decline over several decades - such a decline tends to be irreversible.
    This seems true for all governments, it is hard to convince governments (especially democratic ones) to invest in the future or focus on prevention if the problem isn't perceived to be a pressing issue.

    You wrote,

    Now all you folks are a lot smarter than I am - please someone should tell me how this "diversity" (coupled with very low literacy rates) will not lead to an ongoing "clash of civilizations"?
    I for one don't think any of us who live outside of Nigeria are as near as smart as you are on the nature of your problems. As for diversity the US is incredibly diverse and we make it work. It wasn't always that way, but has Bob Jones has pointed out in numerous post the civil rights movement and the subsequent civil rights bill was a defining moment in time for the US. There were extremists on both sides who used violence throughout, but our nation didn't allow it to be decisive. The majority had another vision and the will to pursue it politically. There will always be outsiders who continue to pursue their ends through violence such as the KKK, Black Panthers, Neo Nazis, but again they won't gain ground and the state still maintains dominance when it comes to coercive power to deal with these groups as criminals vice insurgents. What is possible in Nigeria? Are only the extremist voices heard? Are there leaders that can unify the people?

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    Bill Moore,

    An excerpt from a speech found on the website you provided a link too. These are strong words, but they're just words. In the US we have left wings groups who want to establish a communist system, right wing groups who want to establish an Aryan Nation in the northwest, Islamists who want to establish Sharia law, etc., and if you read their websites you would think the world is falling, but the reality is none of these groups have the coercive power or power of attractive ideas to realize their visions. I agree the threat is more dangerous in your country, but I don't think the Christians and Animists will succumb to Islamic rule outside of the north. The potential for the bloodshed is definitely there, though it seems pretty high already to me.
    I don't think you understand Nigeria. These are not mere words. Religion has a role in politics in Nigeria that is unthinkable in the United States.

    I need to remind you that thousands have been killed in religious riots in Northern Nigeria - and words like those trigger those riots.

    Secondly, I don't think the United States of America is a diverse nation in the same way Nigeria is a diverse nation.

    In the US, a group of Anglo-Saxon settlers laid the ground rules - separation of church and state, no kings, property rights, a common law system etc. Diversity in the US means getting people from different backgrounds to obey these ground rules, then accommodating minor differences.

    True, the story of African Americans was sad, but there was a common understanding of what an ideal America should look like.

    Diversity in Nigeria is an entirely different beast - there are no ground rules.

    On fundamental issues like the nature of the Nigerian state, there are no ground rules - is Nigeria a secular state or not?

    Very few people in Northern Nigeria accept that Nigeria is a secular nation.

    In Northern Nigeria Shari'a law applies to criminal matters. If a Muslim converts to Christianity, he's treated like a criminal under the law.

    Did the US ever have to deal with a religiously derived legal system competing with a secular legal system

    Nigeria, like most African nations, is an artificial construct overlaying many ancient societies with thousand year old cultures and ground rules. Similarities can be found between cultures, but in many cases, the gulf is too wide to be bridged.

    Americans don't like to hear this, but there is very little the US can teach Nigeria (or any African nation) about diversity.

    US is a settler nation (like Australia) that resulted from the elimination of indigenous cultures and the imposition of a dominant settler culture.

    Managing diversity in the US is about tinkering around the edges of the dominant settler culture to make allowances for new entrants. In Nigeria (& most of Africa) there is no dominant culture - so US style diversity WILL NOT work here.

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    Hopefully this doesn't surprise you, but I agree with 90% or more of your response. I don't claim to understand Nigeria after only spending a few months there, but the situation did and does fascinate me. I wasn't offering the America way as the solution, simply presenting how our nation wrestled with deep ethnic divides and at least relieved enough tension to avoid what could have been a much bloodier civil conflict.

    True, the story of African Americans was sad, but there was a common understanding of what an ideal America should look like
    .

    You touched on a key point. We did have an idea of what being American was, it wasn't about skin color or gender, but it took us years to actualize the idea (at least get closer to it). That idealism is what enabled the Civil Rights Movement to be successful. If the idea of equality didn't exist it would have failed before it started, so like all things context matters.

    I also think many Americans, myself included don't see it as a black and white issue, though that seems to dominate the media. To understand multicultural integration you also have to look at the Cubans, Hispanics, Russians, Italians, Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Irish, and a growing Muslim population among others. Yes it very different situation in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, but still worth studying.

    You may be right that,
    Managing diversity in the US is about tinkering around the edges of the dominant settler culture to make allowances for new entrants.
    That is a perspective I haven't heard before, but it makes sense.

    I don't agree with you that the US is secular. You wrote,
    Did the US ever have to deal with a religiously derived legal system competing with a secular legal system?
    We have been dealing with this issue from the beginning and continue to do so today. Many Europeans are surprised at the level of influence religion has on our society. In general these are not violent contests, but arguments contested in court. What seems to be changing is the strength of the far left and their political correctness movement which is similar to Mao's Reformation minus the millions killed, who are attempting to dictate through law what people can say, read, and think. In turn this is spawning a revival of the far right, and unfortunately the middle is disappearing. This seems to be happening throughout much of the West, so we're seeing a growing divide between the far left and right now that could result in considerable violence if we lose touch with our core accepted values that define us. Again we're not Nigeria, but we're not immune to these problems.

    Finding answers for Nigeria is the task of the Nigerian people. We need to focus more on solving our own problems. Of course the West and UN could intervene and attempt to impose a solution on Nigeria if eventually comes close to failing, but that is almost guaranteed to fail before it starts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    US is a settler nation (like Australia) that resulted from the elimination of indigenous cultures and the imposition of a dominant settler culture.

    Managing diversity in the US is about tinkering around the edges of the dominant settler culture to make allowances for new entrants. In Nigeria (& most of Africa) there is no dominant culture - so US style diversity WILL NOT work here.
    That’s an interesting take, and it might be the way things work out. There has certainly been a growing backlash against it post-Obama, though.

    This may seem flippant, but a friend of mine was trying to figure out what was going on with the costumes of the Miss Universe contestants this past weekend. Several of the Western nations seemed to be using the event to demonstrate their commitment to their variation on diversity. (Some of the get-ups, including that of Miss USA, do just look kind of silly.) How does Miss Nigeria read to Nigerians?
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Bill Moore,

    We have been dealing with this issue from the beginning and continue to do so today. Many Europeans are surprised at the level of influence religion has on our society. In general these are not violent contests, but arguments contested in court. What seems to be changing is the strength of the far left and their political correctness movement which is similar to Mao's Reformation minus the millions killed, who are attempting to dictate through law what people can say, read, and think. In turn this is spawning a revival of the far right, and unfortunately the middle is disappearing. This seems to be happening throughout much of the West, so we're seeing a growing divide between the far left and right now that could result in considerable violence if we lose touch with our core accepted values that define us. Again we're not Nigeria, but we're not immune to these problems.
    Let me explain the Nigerian situation to you in a bit more detail.

    A large part of Northern Nigeria is a remnant from the Kanem-Bornu Empire & the Sokoto Caliphate - two of the most prominent Islamic kingdoms in The Sudan.

    The British made no attempt to separate religion from governance (although some aspects of Shari'a like amputation were forbidden). But try as they might, nobody could prevent the spread of (Evangelical) Christianity to those parts of Nigeria.

    So in Northern Nigeria, you have a situation where there is state government funded religious police (Hisbah), the state discourages the construction of Churches & discourages the spread of Christianity - but promotes the spread of Islam; by building Mosques.

    This is a recipe for a DISASTER - and this has no parallel in the United States or the Modern Western World.

    Imagine the problems Britain is facing with its growing Islamic Minority (and calls for Shari'a law) - now imagine if Britain had to deal with Evangelical Christianity in addition to Fundamentalist Islam - & poverty & illiteracy?

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    ganulv,

    Nigeria's Muslim community dislikes beauty contest. In fact, the bloodiest riot in response to a beauty contest happened in Nigeria in 2002.

    About 200 people were killed during those riots. (Many Christians)

    So even among the Christian population, beauty contests might leave a bitter taste.

    Quite simply, very few people in Nigeria bother about beauty contests.

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    Default Boko Haram finally designated as a "foreign terrorist organization"

    So Boko Haram has finally been designated as a "foreign terrorist organization" (after all the politics has been played in DC and Obama can no long sit on the fence on this issue).

    But please, what does this mean in practice?

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    Default Testimony from a Nigerian from Boko Haram hearing.

    Interesting read - not the usual Western analyst's understanding of this issue:

    A decade ago I visited a Nigerian community devastated by flooding. The US and
    Nigerian governments built 400 free houses for them. When I went to the houses, I saw northern children wearing Osama bin Laden hats. What was shocking to me is that US diplomats are aware of the intense anti-American sentiments in northern Nigeria but somehow the US misrepresents this as being “local”.
    http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA...E-20131113.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    So Boko Haram has finally been designated as a "foreign terrorist organization" (after all the politics has been played in DC and Obama can no long sit on the fence on this issue).

    But please, what does this mean in practice?
    It depends on the group, I recall working in another country where Department of State was considering designating a group a FTO, and that particular FTO lobbied hard with State and Congressional members to avoid the designation because it hurt their substantial fund raising activities in the U.S.. Department of State finally designated them, and I have to assume it degraded that particular group. Will the world turn upside down for Boko Haram? Hardly, but like you said at least we are now mandated by law to take some action again them.

    http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm

    Legal Ramifications of Designation

    1. It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(1) as " any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’’

    2. Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)).

    3. Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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    Default Insight: Boko Haram, taking to hills, seize slave 'brides'

    Read this - now imagine the impact on Christian/Muslim relations.

    (Reuters) - In the gloom of a hilltop cave in Nigeria where she was held captive, Hajja had a knife pressed to her throat by a man who gave her a choice - convert to Islam or die.

    Two gunmen from Boko Haram had seized the Christian teenager in July as she picked corn near her village in the Gwoza hills, a remote part of northeastern Nigeria where a six-month-old government offensive is struggling to contain an insurgency by the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.

    In a new development, Boko Haram is abducting Christian women whom it converts to Islam on pain of death and then forces into "marriage" with fighters - a tactic that recalls Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of Uganda.

    The three months Hajja spent as the slave of a 14-strong guerrilla unit, cooking and cleaning for them before she escaped, give a rare glimpse into how the Islamists have changed tack in the face of Nigerian military pressure.

    "I can't sleep when I think of being there," the 19-year-old told Reuters, recounting forced mountain marches, rebel intelligence gathering - and watching her captors slit the throats of prisoners Hajja had helped lure into a trap.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...9AG04120131117

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    Default Scores killed as Boko Haram attacks Air force Base in Maiduguri

    This is serious:

    Suspected Boko Haram terrorists, Monday morning, attacked the Composite Group Air force Base and other places in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
    The siege which started at about 3am shook the town as sporadic gunshots and other Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers fire were heard, with ensuing airstrikes in Maiduguri and Jere metropolis till 8 am.
    Sources said during the attacks on the Air force Base and other targets, including the Maiduguri International Airport, several people were killed as the terrorists, numbering over 300 planted explosives in targeted areas in the state capital.
    - See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/12/s....u5MU2HKG.dpuf

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