ISWAP, Boko Haram plan establish camps in Niger state – Govt

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Boko Haram/ISWAP
Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters

Authorities say militants from the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram are planning to build a camp in Niger State.

Ahmed Matane, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), raised the alarm while briefing reporters in Minna, the state capital, on Tuesday.

He lamented the recent increase in bandit attacks on innocent civilians, alleging that they were now coordinating with rebels to exacerbate the state’s security situation.

Matane bemoaned the fact that the militants, who had killed hundreds of thousands of people in the North East over the years, were suspected of being present in two local government districts of the state.

He was concerned that the state was in such a position despite the government’s efforts to protect its inhabitants, which included spending N5 billion to address Niger’s security concerns.

Boko Haram fighters

According to intelligence reports obtained by the SSG, bandits have joined forces with terrorists to indoctrinate inhabitants in various Shiroro LGA communities to imbibe strict Islamic philosophy and prohibit women from attending school.

He cited Koki, Madaka, Kurebe, Kusare, and Chukuba as some of the communities targeted by the insurgents, where villagers were promised safety but encouraged to engage in civil disobedience and reject western education.

“These people (Boko Haram) often go to communities to communicate with them (residents) and assure them that they will not harm them, and join them during Friday congregational prayer to preach to them on the need to forsake western education and embark on civil disobedience,” Matane told reporters in his office at the Government House in Minna.

“These are some of the attributes of Boko Haram that are perpetrated in the North East and the Sambisa Forest axis.”

He went on to say that ISWAP fighters were also attempting to build a permanent camp near the Kaiji National Park in Borgu LGA’s Babana Forest.

The insurgents attempted to contact the state government through a video in which they claimed to be God’s messengers sent to install an Islamic government in the area, according to the SSG.

He claimed that insurgents, who have been observed in towns bordering Nigeria and Benin Republic, had begun indoctrinating locals.

“ISWAP is trying to establish a camp at National Park at Babana in Borgu Local government Area of Niger State,” Matane said.

“They also made a video claiming that they are not kidnappers, but engaging in religious activities. They have assured us that they are ‘God sent’ to establish an Islamic caliphate. Despite their rapprochement, we are not negotiating with them.”

Munya, Rafi, Shiroro, Mashegu, and Mariga LGAs, he claims, are the epicenters of kidnappings and banditry, while areas of Lapai LGA are also experiencing security issues.