Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Capacity limited by corruption

Government capacity is one topic in this report. Rule of law is another.

Vigilantes Defeat Boko Haram in Its Nigerian Base
Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamist insurgent movement, remains a deadly threat in the countryside…

[I]n Maiduguri, the sprawling state capital from where the militant group emerged, Boko Haram has been largely defeated for now, according to officials, activists and residents — a remarkable turnaround that has brought thousands of people back to the streets. The city of two million, until recently emptied of thousands of terrified inhabitants, is bustling again after four years of fear.

For several months, there have been no shootings or bombings in Maiduguri, and the sense of relief — with women lingering at market stalls on the sandy streets and men chatting under the shade of feathery green neem trees in the 95-degree heat — is palpable.

Boko Haram has been pushed out of Maiduguri largely because of the efforts of a network of youthful informer-vigilantes fed up with the routine violence and ideology of the insurgents they grew up with… Governor Shettima has recruited the vigilantes for “training” and is paying them $100 a month…

The military, known as the Joint Task Force, or J.T.F., has been unable to defeat the Boko Haram on its own despite four years of a bloody counterinsurgency campaign that has been widely criticized for the indiscriminate detention and killing of civilians…

“The Civilian J.T.F. has driven Boko Haram into the bush,” said Maikaramba Saddiq of the Civil Liberties Organization in Maiduguri, a frequent critic of the military.

Indeed, some activists wonder whether the military is more committed to preserving, not ending, the conflict with Boko Haram in order to perpetuate the government spending that comes with it…

The real work of the vigilante group occurs out of sight, in the identification of Boko Haram members that often occurs door to door.

“We know them by just looking at them,” said Hamisu Adamu, 40, who sells leather bags and is in charge of “discipline” for the group.

“Some of them may be our brothers, and we hand them to the military,” he said. So many, he claimed, that there are few Boko Haram members left in the city. “Inside of Maiduguri, it would be very difficult” for the insurgents to circulate, he said…

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