On 4 February, the Nigerian government declared that it had defeated Boko Haram (see ACLED, 12 April 2018 for further detail). However, although air and land forces continue to conduct successful raids against the remaining Boko Haram positions in the Lake Chad region, the sect has proved remarkably difficult to rout. There have been minimal Boko Haram attacks against military targets, but the group continues to target civilians in eastern Borno and north-east Adamawa States (see Figure 1). Over May and June 2018, Boko Haram attacks against civilians caused an estimated 104 fatalities over ten events, the largest of which was a coordinated suicide attack at an Eid al-Fitr festival in Damboa on 16 June (Vanguard, 17 June 2018). Boko Haram has also carried out multiple attacks on Konduga and Damboa, within 80 km of Maiduguri.

However, the Nigerian military is facing an increasingly deadly and widespread problem with growing levels of violent raids from nomadic, land-seeking Fulani militias. On 25 June, the Nigerian military deployed 300 soldiers and 7 helicopter gunships to Benue, Plateau and Taraba States in response to growing Fulani violence (Business Day, 25 June 2018). This deployment was a response to a deadly Fulani attack across three locations in Plateau State the previous weekend (Vanguard Nigeria, 25 June 2018). From January through June 2018, Fulani attacks against civilians occurred at a rate 47.5% higher than those of Boko Haram. Moreover, Fulani attacks throughout 2018 have spanned the geographic width of the country, whereas Boko Haram attacks are mostly focused eastern Borno and north-east Adamawa States (see Figure 1).

Although it is not yet clear whether the military’s heavy reallocation of resources to combat Fulani in the country’s “Middle Belt” will allow Boko Haram to restore a fighting ability of pre-2016 levels, it is clear the government’s statements predicting their demise in early 2018 were largely premature (Africa News, 2 January 2018).

 

Will the Military’s Focus on the Fulani Threat Allow for a Resurgence of Boko Haram?
Charles Vannice
Charles Vannice
Africa Researcher
Charles Vannice is an Africa Researcher with ACLED with a background in political science and education. His interests include insurgency and politically driven conflict with a focus on East Africa and Nigeria. Charles’ past research includes work with the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas, where his focus was on the Indian sub-continent and Afghanistan.
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