LAGOS—Nigerian Muslim clerics living in the border towns of Cameroon and Nigeria are recruiting Boko Haram members in their mosques, the government of Cameroon has alleged. Worse still, government officials in the North East states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa collaborate with the terrorists and take bribes from them, thereby, hindering the fight against the terrorists. Governors of these states also capitalise on their civilian fears to berate the army and the federal government.
These allegations were published in a report, yesterday, by US-based online military news agency, StrategyPage. The magazine explains that the army wants governors in the affected states removed because “many officials in those states are cooperating with Boko Haram (to avoid attack) and are taking bribes from the Islamic terrorists.
“Some of these officials are covering themselves in case Boko Haram should gain power and the governors are often just responding to civilian fears of army misconduct,” it noted.
The magazine said: “Cameroon is also concerned about pro-Boko Haram clerics from Nigeria quietly preaching and recruiting for Boko Haram in Cameroon mosques.
“Islamic conservative clergy are not unusual on either side of the border, but those who do not denounce Boko Haram are suspected of quietly recruiting young men to join the “jihad” (struggle) and fight (and often die) in Nigeria. These preachers have to recruit quietly because otherwise police in Cameroon will arrest and deport them, sometimes after a vigorous interrogation. Evidence of this recruiting is showing up when some of the recruits return from Nigeria with tales of disillusionment and adversity while with Boko Haram,” the report said.
The magazine said that the Cameroonian government is “being criticized because recent claims of large (over 5,000 weapons) arms seizures near the Nigerian border could not be verified by reporters. Civilians living in villages near where the government said the seizures took place said they saw nothing. The government responded that the smugglers operated in remote areas and avoided civilians as well as security forces. There are also concerns that even if weapons were seized they would, as often happens, be sold back to black market arms dealers so that government officials could keep the cash.”
On the military, the report said: “Residents of those three states have justifiable complaints about the army, in particular the casual attitude of the military towards the safety of civilians and their property.
“The army is also unreliable when it comes to sharing information on casualties. Thus Boko Haram related deaths so far this year are believed to be (based on local reports) at least 1,500, which is 50 per cent more than what the army reports. Boko Haram related deaths from 2010 to 2013 were about 3,600, so the violence is not declining.
“The government has been saying, for several years, that Boko Haram would be crushed within a year and never happens. More insightful observers point out that the problem is mainly one of corruption and poverty, as well as the appeal of Islamic radicalism as a magical cure. All of Nigeria suffers from corruption.
“Poverty is more prevalent in the Muslim north, in part because of climate. That’s because the semi-desert Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert is found in the north. Another problem is the more conservative nature of Islamic populations and the lower education levels.”