Nigerians are still celebrating the news that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been killed.
Reports of his death made the front pages yesterday, causing serious trends on social media sites and eliciting ecstatic reactions from the public.
But, while Shekau’s death might be welcome news to Nigerians, it also poses serious challenges to the country’s long-running fight against the Boko Haram insurgency. As a result, this article addresses two major reasons why Shekau’s death could make the fight against Boko Haram more difficult.
Boko Haram is likely to split into new groups.
When Boko Haram splits into more factions, security forces would have to deal with more militant parties. It also means more heinous assaults on innocent people and property by Boko Haram’s various factions.
When Boko Haram’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was still alive, there was only one Boko Haram party under his centralized control. This means that if he agrees to act, it will be carried out. They would follow him hook, line, and sinker if he tells them not to hit.
After Yusuf’s death, however, things changed. Boko Haram was split into several factions, one of which was led by Shekau. Since then, different groups’ assaults seem to have gotten much worse than they were when Yusuf was still alive.
The different competing groups would act in opposition to one another.
As a result of the above, the different competing parties will be operating in opposition. They won’t be working for the same goals. Remember that Shekau and his group were targeted by a rival Islamic State West African Province faction (ISWAP).
Shekau’s faction was defeated, but instead of surrendering with his men and declaring loyalty to the ISWAP faction, he blew himself up. This demonstrates that the competing organizations are working together.
They also have a habit of carrying out attacks in this manner. Where one group refuses to strike, another can go ahead and attack the place. Furthermore, when negotiating the release of any of the kidnapped victims, one party may agree, but the other group(s) may refuse, threatening extreme fear if the other group(s) ever releases victims held in their custody. This made the abducted Chibok girls’ release from Borno State more difficult. Since they normally share their victims and hold their own share in their different camps, this is the case.
Things may not be as good as they seem now that Shekau has died. People believed that the death of Boko Haram founder Yusuf would make things better or put an end to the insurgency years ago. However, the harsh realities on the ground have shown that to be incorrect. This scenario could repeat itself unless Nigerian security forces work harder to exploit the temporary loophole provided by Shekau’s death to deal decisively with the insurgents.
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