The claims by Nigeria’s government that terrorist group Boko Haram has been “defeated” continue to ring hollow.
An attack by the terrorist group on an army base last Sunday led to as many as 100 soldiers being killed, Reuters reports. The attack has been attributed to Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP), a breakout faction of Boko Haram that’s affiliated with the Islamic State terror group. The attack is one of the deadliest by Boko Haram since president Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015.
The brazenness of the attack on a military base raises questions on the lack of equipment for Nigeria’s soldiers in the front-lines—a recurring theme since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009. Several reports have previously suggested Nigeria’s army lacked the necessary gear to combat the terrorists. Last year, Nigeria purchased arms valued at nearly $600 million from the US to boost its army.
The timing of the attack is also crucial given Nigeria’s upcoming elections in February. Insecurity was a prominent factor in the last elections as president Muhammadu Buhari strongly campaigned on his strengths as a former army general. Indeed, under his administration, Nigeria’s army quickly made gains on Boko Haram, winning back seized territory, rescuing some abductees and sacking the militants from their Sambisa Forest stronghold.
But regardless, the government’s claims of victory have proven premature. Boko Haram has continued to launch attacks in Nigeria’s northeast notably bombing the University of Maiduguri, once described as the safest place in the city at the peak of the insurgency. The group has also began increasingly targeting aid workers with two nurses abducted and executed in the last two months.