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Can Border Closure Eliminate Boko Haram?

The Closure of Nigerian Borders has presented many scenarios to different people but has it also hampered the reign of the Boko Haram terror group?

In August, 2019, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigeria Police Force and the Armed Forces launched a joint operation named Ex-Swift Response to check insecurity along the nation’s entry points.

The operation swiftly moved to the partial closure of the land borders in an effort to stem the smuggling of all goods from neighboring countries. This effectively affected the trade flows with Nigeria’s neighbor.

President Muhammadu Buhari, while defending the closure said the measure is to curb the influx of smuggled goods from neighbouring countries.

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Since the closure, the Nigerian customs has announced an increase in revenue, while the state oil company, NNPC, has also reported a decrease in the volume of petrol smuggled outside Nigeria.

Immigration Officers at Nig-Cameroon Border

However, the closure of Nigerian Borders has presented many scenarios to different people, on security front; some close watchers opined that the closure of the borders has affected the logistics and supply network of the insurgents.

However, security experts have a differing opinion saying the long silence of the insurgents should be a source of concern as they may be planning on their next attack.

“..if you say because of the closure of the border, activities of the Boko Haram has reduced, I
doubt it. We should be very careful before we begin to shout hosanna because the truth of the
matter is that terrorist gangs are very unconventional and very fluid in their activities.
Whether you close the border or not, there are some of them that are already within the
system that could cause us immediate damage…”

After a peak in Boko Haram–related violence in 2014 and 2015, the number of casualties attributed to the group fell dramatically. The Nigerian military—with assistance from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger—has pushed Boko Haram out of several provinces in northeastern Nigeria, but the group retains control over some villages and pockets of territory and continues to launch deadly suicide attacks and abduct civilians, mostly women and children.

Boko Haram Insurgents

The last deadly attack by the insurgents was carried out in July 2019, where 65 people lost their lives after suspected Boko Haram militants opened fire on a funeral in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Borno.
In 2015, it was ranked the world’s deadliest terror group by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai

Territory controlled by the group has declined in recent years and it has splintered into competing factions.

However, the Islamist militants remain active in the region, defying attempts by the army to bring the insurgency to an end.