Paper Title
Godwin C. Agbo
Law, Leadership, and Social Sciences

Apart from corruption, Boko Haram insurgency appears to be one of the greatest social problems facing the country today. The sect whose ultimate goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state has an ideology that is averse to Western education and anything it represents. To achieve its goal it has waged war aimed at eroding the credibility and legitimacy of the Nigerian government. Since its violent phase started in 2009 over 800 deaths have been recorded, about 1.7 million people have been displaced; 83 children have been used as ‘human bombs’ while it’s operations has crippled the socio-economic activities in the North-East zone of Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria has so far spent over N4billion on resolving the humanitarian crises arising from the activities of the sect group. The aim of this paper therefore, is to unearth the causes of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, discuss its effects on both national and global peace and development. The paper suggests that the first step in winning the war is by first finding solutions to the root causes of the problem. The paper concludes that the use of dialogue, carrots and intelligence application may have more explanatory value than the continued use of force (sticks).



The evolution of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria dates back to 1995 when a group which operated under the name Shabaab, that is, Muslim Youth Organization under the leadership of Mallam Lawal Abubakar emerged in the North-East geo-political zone. The sect’s teaching emerged as ‘Ahlulsunna Wal’jama’ah Hijra’. It evolved from the remnants of the Taliban that operated in parts of the Yobe State (Echendu, 2012). At this time which could be termed the embroyonic stage, the sect was bent on enforcing Sharia law across Northern Nigeria and dissuading Muslims from embracing Western education. The sect at this time carried out its activities in a peaceful manner.

When Lawal left Nigeria to further his education in the University of Madina, Saudi Arabia, he handed over the leadership of the sect to Mohammed Yusuf of the Yussfuya sect. Yusuf’s leadership initially was peaceful but it later turned violent. This happened when he allegedly opened the group to political influence and popularity. For instance, he entered into an unhealthy romance with Governor Ali Modu Sheriff. Based on this romance the group helped the Governor during his electioneering campaign. This assistance was, however, based on an unwritten agreement that on winning the election the group would be allowed to Islamize Borno State. This was not to be and Sheriff’s obstinacy towards Islamization of Borno State irked the group to become anti-government (Ezenwile, Anazodo, & Chidolue, 2015). The relationship of the two parties became soiled and there was no more trust. Under this sour relationship and suspicious situation coupled with the threat of carrying out ‘Jihadi’ operation that only Allah can stop, Yusuf was arrested, detained and later killed extra-judicially in police custody. This, to a large extent, marked the introduction of terror which is deeper in tactics, strategy and sophistication by the Jama‘alu alhus Sunnah otherwise called Boko Haram (Afaha, 2014). This violent aspect of Boko Haram insurgency has no doubt affected the entire North-East geo-political zone especially Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states. Many people have been displaced from their homes, many killed while properties worth billions of Naira have been lost. This no doubt has affected the credibility and legitimacy of the government that have now lost the confidence of the citizens.


The Meaning of Insurgency

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, insurgency “is an attempt to take control of a country by force”, while insurgent “is a person fighting against the government or armed forces of his own country”. Chaturvedi (2006) in his academic dictionary of political science defines insurgency as “an action or a concerted agitation by a group in the form of uprising against a constitutionally formed government”. It does not amount to a rebellion or a revolution or a civil war but is an armed act to dislodge or disbalance the existing government.


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