A danger not to Nigeria Alone – Boko Haram's Transnational Reach and Regional Responses

Nigeria, once well respected for its role in restoring stability in some conflict-torn states in West Africa, is now in need of the international community’s assistance to guarantee peace and security in her own territory. The growing campaign of violence led by the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awatiwal Jihad (People committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad), otherwise known as Boko haram, not only poses a serious threat to internal security in Nigeria, but may threaten regional stability in West Africa as a whole.

Since July 2009 when Boko Haram engaged Nigerian security forces in a shorted-lived anti- government uprising, the group has grown to become a serious national, regional and international concern. The group attracted the first major international attention in August 2011 when it bombed the United Nations building in Abuja, killing 23 people. it has sustained its insurgency in Nigeria since then and has even increased its violent attacks and activities in the North Eastern states of Nigeria in the course of 2014. In April 2014 for instance, the group drew unprecedented international attention when its kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in the village of Chibok, triggering off the international campaign ‘Bring Back Our Girls’. The Nigeria Security Forces, with the assistance of the international community, have strugged to locate the abducted girls. Meanwhile, the group has continued killings, pillages, abductions and bombings of different locations such as religious sites, schools and popular public places, mainly in towns in North Eastern Nigeria.

As is to be expected, the activities of Boko Haram have drawn a growing attention in national and international media as well as among academics from all over the world. Most writings about the group address its deleterious consequences from a political and social perspective. However, these reports often fail to highlight that, besides the tragic loss of lives and property, the activities of Boko Haram constitute a major threat to regional security. This study therefore points out that, although Boko Haram has emerged as a home-grown group with local grievances, the dynamics of its activities now pose a serious threat to peace and security in the West African region. it assesses the regional security implications of the existence and operations of Boko Haram on four broad levels, namely: the group’s resourcing and acquisitions including recruitment, training , equipment and funding ; the mounting of cross-border attacks; the consequences of its operations; and a potnetial erosion of Nigeria’s role as the leader of ECOWAS.

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