The security situation in large parts of northern Nigeria is troublesome for many. The militant group Boko Haram is expanding its operations beyond the northeast of the country. Attacks have increased tremendously, and now northwest Nigerians now must face another enemy - herdsmen from Nigeria’s Fulani tribe, who have had a long-running battle with farmers in the north-central region, are believed to be behind the recent spate of killings in many parts of Nigeria.
But what has most of the villagers petrified is the increase in kidnappings in the northwest and north-central regions by criminal gangs. It’s difficult to know if these criminal gangs are those of the local villagers are another sect of the Fulani Herdsmen often referred to as "bandits", that has created an atmosphere of insecurity.
In the last six months, hundreds of students have been kidnapped in at least five separate incidents. In some cases, students have been killed by their kidnappers even after ransoms have been paid. Although organized crime is nothing new in Nigeria, there are specific reasons on why there has been an increase in recent months.
The country’s northwest and north-central are becoming safe havens for Boko Haram, which had previously operated solely in the northeast. The terrorist group have now extended their terror from the east to west of the northern regions of Nigeran. If the Nigerian force don’t act now to stop this insurgency it may as well spread further south if it hasn’t already.
Even though the Nigerian government maintains that bandits are responsible for the kidnappings and most of the deadly attacks in the northwest and north central, there is evidence of Boko Haram’s involvement either directly or by means of collaboration.
When 344 students were kidnapped from an all-boys school in northwestern Katsina State the state government assigned the incident to bandits. But, hours after the attacks occurred, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.
Fears of the terror group's expansion beyond the northeast were also confirmed when the government of Nigeria's north-central Niger State announced last week that Boko Haram has hoisted its flags in Kaure and Shiroro local government areas of the state.
“I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger state, here in Kaure, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here." Abubakar Sani Bello, Governor of Niger State, which is about 140 km away from Abuja, Nigeria's capital, told reporters a week ago.
“Their wives (referring to women married to men in the affected communities) have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure, meaning they have taken over the territory.”
Some may wonder what the government is doing to push back Boko Harem and install a sense of security in thr region. Well president’s Buhari government has said they have increased security and they are fighting back and supposedly winning against the terrorists. But if you ask the people of Kankara village, they will give you a different story. Although, the political leadership insists that Boko Haram factions are “technically defeated,” the insurgency continues to shake Africa’s most populous country.