On 6 January, about 20 people were killed when gunmen suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram attacked Igbo traders in a town hall in Mubi, Adamawa State. At least another 15 people were wounded.
Mubi, the second largest city in Adamawa State, is about 175 km south of the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, which had been the base of Boko Haram and the epicentre of its attacks.
According to the Commissioner of Police in Adamawa State, Mr Ade Shinaba, the attack targeted a town hall where Igbo traders were holding a meeting before opening up their shops for business. The meeting was called to raise money for transporting the body of an Igbo man shot dead by gunmen on motorbikes the previous evening, back to his hometown for burial. The Igbo traders, some resident in Mubi for decades, are known to be Christians. Survivors said the attackers chanted: ‘God is great, God is great’ as they were shooting into the hall.
From Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, the BBC’s Abdullahi Tasiu reported that in the aftermath of the shooting, many Igbo traders in Mubi had closed their shops and were planning to flee the town.
The police say no arrests had been made and no group had claimed responsibility, but both police authorities and local residents believe the gunmen must have been members of Boko Haram. The sect had claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla near Abuja, which killed more than 40 people.
After President Goodluck Jonathan’s 31 December declaration of a state of emergency in 15 local government areas across four states, a Boko Haram spokesman, on 2 January, gave Christians and southerners a three-day ultimatum to leave the majority Muslim northern states of the country or face death. On 2 January, the Police Headquarters in Abuja dismissed that ultimatum and urged all law-abiding citizens to get on with their normal businesses wherever they lived in the country.
Three days later, on 5 January, unknown gunmen attacked a Deeper Life Bible church in Gombe, capital of Gombe State, killing at least six worshippers including the pastor’s wife, and wounding about 10 others. Less than 24 hours later, the attack on the Igbo traders in Mubi followed.
Gombe and Adamawa were not initially considered high-risk states and none of their local government areas were covered by the declared emergency.
Many Muslim leaders have condemned Boko Haram’s attacks, stressing that Islam does not tolerate attacks on non-Muslims, and especially their places of worship.
On 27 December, the Sultan of Sokoto and spiritual leader of all the Muslims in Nigeria, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, declared: “There is no conflict between Christians and Muslims, between Islam and Christianity. It is a conflict between evil people and good people and the good people are more than the evil doers”.
The Commission was established by the UN Secretary-General at the request of Cameroon and Nigeria, to facilitate the implementation of the 10 October 2002 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the land and maritime boundary between the two countries. It is composed of delegations from Cameroon, Nigeria and the UN, chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Mr Saïd Djinnit.
The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) reports that the Commission had, at its previous meeting, reached agreement on more than 1,600 kilometres of a total border estimated at 1,950 kilometres. The delegations then also committed to clearing up the remaining 350 kilometres “as expeditiously as possible”.
For the on-going meeting, therefore, UNOWA says deliberations are focusing on “the practical measures that need to be taken to translate this commitment into reality on the ground”.
It said the Commission is also deliberating on issues related to assistance to the affected border populations, with a view to meeting their socio-economic needs and building mutual confidence.
On 20 July, top Federal Government officials and political leaders from Borno and some other northern states, reached a “general agreement” to retain the military task force deployed to stop attacks by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, in Borno State.
The agreement was announced after a closed-door meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and his team on one hand, and a group of elders and politicians from Borno State, the North East zone as well as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), a pan-northern Nigeria political pressure group, on the other. The meeting was apparently prompted by recent calls by some Borno politicians and regional elders for Jonathan to withdraw the troops, whom they alleged were grossly violating human rights through extra-judicial killings, arson and rape.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the Information Minister, Mr Labaran Maku, said all parties “generally agreed” that it would be “premature” to withdraw troops sent to restore order in Maiduguri only last month, and therefore resolved to retain the force until peace returns to the area.
Maku said: “The meeting explored different options, consulted widely on what we can do together to bring about peace and security in Borno State and other affected areas…In the light of this discussion, the meeting generally agreed that it is premature to withdraw the military”.
He added that: “What was needed was that if there are cases of individual misbehavior by members of the Joint Task Force, the authorities will look into those cases. Right now, we know one or two soldiers who were found to have done things in excess are been questioned by the relevant authorities. What is important is that the army are playing a great role”.
Insisting that the military operation was the only option available to the government at this point in time, Maku asked, rhetorically: “In the situation we are now, if you withdraw the army, what happens”?
Describing the meeting as “very fruitful”, he said it was also “the beginning of further dialogue to find solutions to this problem”. He said the government needed all hands on deck, including “political leaders, community leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders…so that together, we can look at ways to bring about a solution”.
On 13 March, the former National Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Farouk Bibi Farouk, reported that he was quizzed by the State Security Service (SSS) four days earlier, over an alleged plot to poison President Goodluck Jonathan.
Farouk, who was also Director of Youths in the Atiku Campaign Organisation, told newsmen that he was picked up along with the secretary of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) Bello Abdulkadiri. He said he was confronted with the allegation that he attended a meeting where it was discussed that Jonathan should be poisoned if he wins next month’s presidential election, so as to shorten his tenure in the manner of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He said he denied the allegation and told his interrogators that he had never attended any meeting where plots to poison the president was discussed.
He said in his statement that: “I vehemently denied this allegation and still insist that I have not attended any meeting at Kaduna on the said date, and I was not at Kaduna on the said date. I also insist that I have never discussed nor participated in a meeting or ever by any chance overheard conservation where such a wicked and malicious allegation was ever discussed in my life. I heard of such a thing for the first time that evening in the premises of the State Security Service”.
He also said: “I was made to write a statement to that effect the following day March 11, 2011 in which I rejected this allegation and I gave details of every meeting I could recollect I have attended at Kaduna since last year and the discussion I could recollect that were made in these meeting and the persons I could remember who attended the these meetings”.
Farouk said he was treated with the “utmost decorum and respect”, but was not allowed to see his lawyers while in detention, until he was granted bail after about 24 hours.
He said he was a secretariat staff of the NPLF and believes in the group’s stand on zoning, but never had any personal grouse against Jonathan. He restated his views on non-violence, saying the electorate would decide once and for all, the issue of zoning.
The NPLF had expressed displeasure over the arrests. It said it was “saddened by the fact that just over a month to the general election in April, an atmosphere capable of promoting the freedom of the electorate to choose their leaders was yet to emerge”.