Boko Haram’s insurgency prompts international meeting

World Today

Boko Haram has killed thousands and captured hundreds of others in Nigeria in the past year. Now the militants have plans to launch more attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
CCTV Africa’s Julie Scheier filed this report from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Boko Haram's insurgency prompts international meeting

Boko Haram's insurgency prompts international meeting

Boko Haram has killed thousands and captured hundreds of others in Nigeria in the past year. Now the militants have plans to launch more attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Chad. CCTV Africa's Julie Scheier filed this report from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Boko Haram made headlines in April 2014 when the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls. Since then they have continued to attack villages and schools with impunity.

The events in Nigeria and the ones that have spilled into Chad and Cameroon, led International Law Professor Hennie Strydom and Nigerian researcher Dr. John Mark Iyi from the University of Johannesburg to organize a two day international conference in Johannesburg focused on Boko Haram.

“This conference hopes to bring awareness to this ongoing and devastating conflict, and we hope to engage in questions that need answers,” Strydom said.

The conference touched upon crucial issues of Nigeria’s capacity and military ability to solve the conflict. The African Union was blamed for not acting swiftly despite its power to intervene militarily.

“Had they reacted earlier by whatever means diplomatically or otherwise to assist the Nigerian Government as they should have done, we could have saved a hell of a lot of lives,” Strydom said. “I think the reason why the African Union only got involved now is because of the elections coming up, and the reason is if there is turmoil it will affect the elections, it might also escalate the conflict and I don’t think the African Union wants that.”

“What we can hope for is that the support of the AU in dealing with this crisis, but also that it is a wake up call to all the stakeholders, when a crisis begins in the country all those not just the neighbours, the continent should wake up before it is to late,” Iyi said.

The Nigerian Government was asked why it didn’t intervene sooner.

“Nigeria did not want to use a sledge hammer to kill a small fly, so we did not want to use big arms against the insurgents,” Colonel Godwin Anyalemechi of Nigerian Defense Headquarters said. “I may agree with you that there was an underestimation of their strength numerically initially when they started, but now we have seen their true strength we have responded equally, I am assuring you that on our own we have been able to contain the insurgents, at the end of the 3rd week mandate I am sure that the Nigerian armed forces are going to completely eliminate them from our territory.”

Today’s conference focused on burning questions around the issue of terrorism in Africa. Academics, diplomats and military personnel hope that their conclusions can help map a way out and forward, from this ongoing conflict against Boko Haram.