In a sad reminder that the threat of Islamist militancy in northern Nigeria is rising, a further 91 — according to latest estimates — people have been abducted from villages in the area. The victims even include toddlers as young as three years old. These shameful figures are being reported less than three months after more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram — a term that means western education is forbidden — militants from the village of Chibok in northern Nigeria, a crime that has brought deep embarrassment to the African country and outrage from the international community.
That Boko Haram has been able to deftly defy the law enforcement agencies and commit such acts of aggression yet again goes to show that whatever strategies the Nigerian security forces have adopted to curb the menace are just not enough.
In a series of attacks on villages in the north of the country, Boko Haram has perpetuated a reign of fear and terror, looting at will and kidnapping youngsters — the schoolgirls were even shown on video footage, dressed in burqas with the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatening to sell them to an international slavery ring. If this is not the kind of act to make the government and agencies in Nigeria sit up and take action, then what is?
Militants who harp on about a warped Islamic ideology are nothing new to the world; we have seen the likes of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now we see them vying for power in Nigeria. They have the same modus operandi: to oppress one half of the population — the women. They blow up schools, cover women up in veils, limit their mobility and deny them the right to education. The Taliban did the same thing in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s own local militants, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have been on the warpath against women's rights since 2007. The Boko Haram is no different but it is a lot more brutal. Even orthodox Islamic clerics from around the world, who favour female suppression, have not given legitimacy to Boko Haram’s particularly vile character whereby girls are sold as slaves and treated savagely.
It is high time the fire that has begun raging in Nigeria against its female citizens be squashed. Boko Haram is a very real, very dangerous threat and must be treated as such. The US and other countries have sent manpower to Nigeria to help locate the missing schoolgirls but their assistance must be sought in beating back the Boko Haram plague as well. Nigeria’s government and security agencies must understand that the militants are just getting warmed up. We cannot afford that the continent of Africa also start raging with Islamist militancy just like Afghanistan, Pakistan and now the Middle East as well. *
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