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1.1  Background to the Study

Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, Nigeria has witnessed series of ethno- religious and resource-based violence that have taken terror dimension and threatened its internal security. The use of violence to create fear, often through the targeting of third parties and with the elements of surprise and the undermining of very personal security, is a tool used by a variety of historical and contemporary actors. It is meant to inflict dramatic and deadly injury on civilians and to create an atmosphere of fear for a political or ideological secular or religions purpose. It is also a criminal act and contravenes international law. In the 21th century the act of terrorism was carried out by opposition leftist or rightist political leaders in order to consolidate their influence and authority over the available scarce resources. The dynamic nature of terrorism has now shifted to groups within a political system who are discontented with the socio-political and economic arrangements and ever determine to challenge the existing authority to their advantages. However, going by this development terrorism has been internationalized and domesticated in ever part of the globe. The lack of an acceptable definition of terrorism has also created room for different interpretations of the concept at the domestic level where the label of terrorism has been selectively used by political leaders to target their enemies (Schmid, 2006:Pg.13).

Terrorism is increasingly understood as a political act meant to inflict dramatic and deadly injury on civilians and to create an atmosphere of acute fear and despair generally for a political or ideological, whether secular or religious, purpose. The threat of ‘terrorism’ is not peculiar to western countries alone, its tentacles are spreading fast like wild fire ready to consume any object close to it (Paret, 2010: Pg.41).

Terrorism, either international or domestic has heightened insecurity in Nigeria. While the country is still grappling with the challenges posed by such crimes as armed robbery, murder, kidnapping and assassination, among others, then domestic terrorism shows up. Terrorism took a new dimension in Nigeria with the activities of terrorist groups like the Jama'atul ahlul Sunna Lidda'awa Wal Jihad, which means "Brethren of Sunni United in the Pursuit of Holy War" popularly referred to as the Boko Haram, meaning 'Western Education is forbidden' and Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan (ANSARU) especially when they became affiliated to some notable international terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and Al-Shaabab. Among the entire terrorist groups that have ravaged Nigeria, Boko Haram is undoubtedly the most deadliest and destructive, both in terms of its demonic brutality, mindless savagery and increasing scope of operation. From the beginning, the group which spelt out its manifesto that is the rejection of western education and all institution and agencies that go with it, prefers to have Sharia law applied all over the country, and if that is difficult to grant, they would rather have a separate Islamic state carved out of Nigeria, where they can practice their religion unhindered (Alavosius, 2002:Pg.56). 

Between 2009 and 2013, the insurgents have killed more than thirteen thousand (13,000) people. In addition, Human Rights Watch cited in Fafowora (2013:Pg.16) reported that Boko Haram has killed at least 935 people since it launched an uprising in 2009. Between January and May 2012, hundreds of more lives have been lost to the insurgency. The group was alleged to have carried out more than 115 separate attacks in the Northern part of the country in 2011 alone. The debilitating effect of insecurity, particularly terrorism on the political system and economic prosperity of a nation cannot be rightly calculated. Aside losing material and human lives, insecurity arising from terrorism costs huge loss of investment and because it deters foreign investment in many countries around the world (Amnesty International, 2012).

Some of these activities include bombing, suicide bomb attacks, sporadic shooting of unarmed and innocent citizens by these groups that have turned terrorist and hid under the guise of religion to perpetrate all kinds of misdeeds like killing women and children, rape, armed robbery, political crises, many lives and properties have been lost and a large number of citizens rendered homeless. Families have lost their loved ones. Many women are now widows. Children become orphans with no hope of the future. On November 21st 2018 Boko Haram insurgents overran a Nigerian Army battalion in Borno State on Sunday, killing the unit’s commander and dozens of soldiers. A large cache of arms, ammunition and military equipment were carted away by Boko Haram fighters during the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Abadam Local Government Area, at about 6:00 p.m. it was a setback for government forces trying to push terrorists further out of Nigeria’s North-Eastern flank (vanguardngr.com/2018/22/).

Amnesty International which is a human rights organization and not a prosecuting agency its role is to hold governments to their obligations to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure that anyone whose rights are violated has an effective remedy. But Amnesty itself has long been a political tool used by governments for both good and bad purposes. It is a tractable political tool that lends itself to wide-ranging purposes, some of which are morally right and some that are self-serving.  The point of argument is that amnesties have been granted at times of great social stability and at times of great social unrest. We may therefore scrutinise amnesties from the basis of their intentions or morality. However, the most scrutiny of amnesty comes from the domain of law, especially international law. Amnesty programme may not after all be a correct model for the proposed Boko Haram (Slye, 2002:Pg. 174).

1.2  Statement of the Research Problem

This research seeks to assess Military Option to Amnesty: An Assessment of the change in the Security Strategy of the Boko Haram (2007 - 2013). Insecurity for global peace has been a major challenge to the Nigeria government and the world in general at this recent time. Regardless of the rhetoric and containment engagements of the military within the theater of operations, what appears to be a consistently disturbing scenario is the capacity of the insurgents to return to the area they had wreaked havoc to cause further damage. The accompanying terrorism and international security in Nigeria is widely described as a series of overlapping proxy wars in the regional and had led to loss of lives and properties and the level of properties destruction cannot be quantify so easy.

Despite Nigeria government’s efforts at combating terrorist activities in the North-East Nigeria, the activities of terrorism have remained recalcitrant. This therefore calls into question the need to interrogate why the persistence and prevalence despite government’s efforts. Could it be as a result of the strategies or what else could be responsible for the persistence? This therefore requires more in-depth study and analysis that calls for the justification of the study.  In fact, the country is troubled by the apparent capture of some local government areas in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and other places, where the insurgents have carved out, a supposedly Islamic territory. These and many other developments are deeply disturbing and increasingly dangerous. (Olukolade, 2014:Pg.33).

Following the bombing of Nigeria Police Headquarters in Abuja and the United Nations building in Abuja in 2011, the killing and beheading of innocent civilians including women and children, without adequate challenge by the Nigerian security forces, it appears the group has proved that defeating terrorism is not as easy as it seems. There is a common consensus in the Nigerian public sphere that Government’s response to attack insurgents has been reactionary rather than proactive .Those who share this sentiment argue that government usually waits for the insurgents to launch attacks on churches, schools, police stations and other public institutions, before it reacts by announcing to the general public via the media that the “situation is under control” a phrase that has become ridiculous (Aja, 2011; Abdullahi, 2011).

Some factors that led to the rise of Boko Haram between the periods of this study are struggle for political leadership were adequate attention is not given to the fight, mobilization for resource control, uneven distribution of national wealth, sentiment across religious believe, ethnic marginalization, claiming or fighting over outright superiority of others. Unemployment and poverty may have a less impact as a cause of terrorism, but religious and cultural ideological and extremist believe from traditional enemies of the western world the middle eastern countries, have impacted their hatred on the mindsets of the people and often view the west as one and only enemy. The ideological motives ambition is to seize the reins of power in order to impose one’s societal power by force to impose their will on all, involvement of foreign funding and Allies with countries like Niger, Benin Republic, Sudan, Libya, Chad, and Cameroon with providing them with assistance. Nigerian weak security apparatus, strength capabilities, poor sources of funding due to corruption with lack of commitment to deploy adequate ground troops, divergence of interests are among keys players in combating Boko haram today (Ogundiya, 2014).

The inadequate ground offensive by the Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon led alliance is major challenge in the fight against Boko Haram and Operational support to each parties involved in the ongoing conflict in North East are the motivating factors. All this led to rise of insurgency group which has now become a threat to global peace today victims (Ubhenin, 2013).

However, high rate of poverty and low level educational Northern has becomes difficult in separate the ongoing violence from the continuing poor development and educational despoliation of the region when analysis the Niger Delta amnesty programme disarmament, demobilisation, and rehabilitation, has been criticized on many grounds it is not clear on the role of oil MNCs (Adeyemi & Olu-Adeyemi, 2010), it does not provide justice to there is lack of accountability in its drafting and implementation. It is given in a vacuum (Samson, 2013; Gilbert, 2010), and it is too militant centred. The major criticism however comes from its failure to address the basic socio-economic and environmental needs in the region (Muggah & Batchelor, 2002).

Considering the evidence put forward concerning the Niger Delta amnesty programme and previous amnesties in Nigeria, the motion for amnesty for the Boko Haram sect may be ill-advised. Such a narrow proposal straitjackets a comprehensive understanding of the group’s motivation, as well as forecloses other viable and effective counter terrorism measures (Miller, 2007).

In the absence of a unified and comprehensive counter terrorism theory, flexibility and adaptability in counter terrorism policies become necessary the best counter terrorism approach to the Boko Haram insurgency would be one that is considered based on a careful study and clear understanding of the perceptions, associations and scope of its network. The lack of a unified explanation for the Boko Haram insurgency and the many conspiracy theories add to the ineffectiveness of the counter terrorism measures used so far. The Nigerian government should therefore work towards achieving a true assessment of the Boko Haram conflict. This should be the task of the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North. The Committee should not be fazed by the chant for amnesty for Boko Haram (Crenshaw, 2007).

Another major problem is that security expertise is limited in a country where this level of terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon, and training as well as resources for building this type of intelligence gathering capability is lacking (Gallup, 2010). It is against this backdrop that the research examined why amnesty should or should not be adopt by the Nigerian Government as a strategy as against military option to counter-terrorism in the North-East Nigeria in order to ascertain why terrorism has persisted and prevailed despite government measures.

1.3  Research Questions

The study poses the following research problems are stated below;

              i.      What are the causes of terrorism in the North-East Nigeria between 2007 and 2013?

            ii.      Is it ideal for the Nigerian Government to dialogue and grant amnesty to Boko Haram?

          iii.      What purpose will dialogue and amnesty serve in combating terrorism in the North-East Nigeria?

          iv.      Will dialogue and amnesty strengthen Nigeria’s security?

1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to assess government measures in combating terrorism in Nigeria as from 2007 to 2013. However, the specific objectives include:

          i.            To find out the causes of terrorism in the North-East Nigeria between 2007 and 2013.

        ii.            To investigate how effective these measures have been in combating terrorism in the North-East Nigeria.

      iii.             To find out if dialogue and amnesty have strengthen Nigeria’s security.

      iv.            To offer possible ways to address Boko Haram activities in the North-East Nigeria.

1.5 Research Assumptions

The research made the following assumptions:-

  1. Domestic terrorism could be attributable to the inability of government to put in place sustainable socio-economic programmes for the people.
  2.  Nigeria’s Government change in security strategy approaches in the North-East, Nigeria insurgencies have failed to yield the desired result.
  3.  That granting amnesty to terrorists will lead to the emergence of similar groups.

1.6 Significance of the Study

As a point of departure, after reviewing relevant and related literature on the subject under study, it was observed that most of the works (Kwanashie,2013; Alemika,2013; Otegwu,2015) reviewed focused on the concept of terrorism, its causes, effects and counter terrorism strategies, but none examined specifically the assessment of government change in security strategies in the North-East Nigeria. It is against this backdrop that this study attempted to interrogate an assessment of Government counter terrorism strategies so as to contribute to the existing body of literature. The study will bring to the notice of the Nigerian government the root causes of militancy in the country and also suggest means of bringing to an end the activities of militancy in general and Boko Haram insurgency in specific. The study has shown that the military option alone without addressing the socio-economic factors cannot stop terrorist activities. This is essentially because socio-economic factors have not only promoted a fertile ground and environment for the smooth operations of terrorist activities but created veritable opportunity for recruitment of gullible and unemployed youths. The study would also contribute to the existing body of knowledge as it will serve as a reference point for further research on Government counter-terrorist strategies.

1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The scope covered by the study is “From military option to amnesty: An assessment of the change in security strategy of the Boko Haram between 2007 and 2013”. The justification of this scope and period is because the terrorists’ activities became so intensified characterized by loss of lives and property as well as destruction of government owned institutions and also the efforts made by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan at combating Boko Haram activities. For instance, Nigeria is one of the latest to be added to the list of states affected by sectarian insurgencies. Out of the 15 countries surveyed in 2011 by the US Department of State for terrorism, Nigeria ranked fifth. It also ranked 15th in kidnappings with 17 kidnappings reported daily, since then, the tempo of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria has certainly increased (Fafowora, 2013).

The study will show that undertaking a research in a crisis torn area like the North-East of Nigeria is such an onerous task. One of the challenges faced by the researcher was the issue of accessibility to vital information as the activities of Boko Haram is more dreaded and not everybody is disposed to giving information because of its security implications.

1.8 Conceptual Clarifications

At this point it is deemed necessary to make clarification of some frequently used words in the course of the study terms like:

Boko Haram: This figuratively implies that western education is forbidden, it’s a very controversial Nigerian militant Islamist group that seeks for the imposition of Sharia law in the entire northern states of Nigeria. The hierarchical structure of the group is not presently well defined. The official name of the group is Jamaatu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, which in Arabic translates to “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and Jihad.” Literally therefore, the group means “Association of Sunnis for the propagation of Islam and for Holy War.”  From this, it is clear that Boko Haram is a group of Islamic fundamentalist that are  committed to carry out Holy War (Jihad) and Islamized northern states of Nigeria and probably conquer the entire country through Jihad (Quinney, 2011).

Security: This entails the capacity of a state to defend itself from external threats with all the necessary means at its disposal, and internal threats through overall socio-economic well-being of its citizenry (Nweke, 1998). Here, there is a greater recognition of the relevance of other elements such as political, environmental, economic, and social factors as irreducible components of security of any country (Buzan & Hansen, 2009). Nnoli (2006) defines security: “As a reasonable level of predictability at different levels of the social system, from local communities to the global level” The understanding here is that at the global level, there is the presence of an order which is predicated upon the predictability of behavior of other members within the system. At the local levels, security thus includes the ability of the state to predict the likely implication of any particular condition on its citizens. The recognition lies squarely not on the state’s ability to enforce law and order, though that may be important, but in creating the necessary socio-economic conditions that guarantees fair amount of predictability on the behavior of its citizens. For our purpose, we define security as a state of reduced or contained threats and tension in which the stability of a state is not in an imminent danger of disruption from within or without. Stability is here viewed as the order, regularity and pattern, which characterized the state’s condition over extended period.

Moulaye (2006) sees the concept of security in terms of safety and freedom from danger or risk, protection from espionage, infiltration, sabotage, theft among others.

National security: entails the measures, facilities and systems put in a place by a nation to protect its citizens and resources from danger and the risk of infiltration, sabotage, subversion or theft within its internal and external environment (Freedman, 1998).

Amnesty: Amnesty is defined as any governmental pardon for past offences or crimes, especially political ones. Granting amnesty goes beyond a pardon, in that it forgives the said offences completely (Walker, 2012).

Terrorism is a doctrine about the presumed effectiveness of a special form or tactic of fear generating, coercive political violence and, on the other hand, to a conspiratorial practice of calculated, demonstrative, direct violent action without legal or moral restraints, targeting mainly civilians and non-combatants, performed for its propagandistic and psychological effects on various audiences and conflict parties (Schmid, 2011).


Chapter one looks at the Background to the study, Statement of problem, Objective of the study, Research assumptions, Scope of the study, Significance of the study and Definition of key term.Chapter two will provides further information on the Conceptual Literature Review and Theoretical framework.

Chapter three will be the Present Research Methodology of the study.

Chapter four is a Historical Background of Boko Haram, Nigeria Military and Amnesty program. Chapter five will base on Data presentation and Analysis of results and chapter six will base on the Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations


Alemika, E.E.O “Insurgencies in Nigeria: Causes and Remedies the Sociological Dimension” in Obafemi, O. and Galadima, H.(2013) Complex Insurgencies in Nigeria. NIPSS

Amnesty International (2012). „Nigeria: trapped in a cycle of violence‟. Report by Amnesty International. London: Amnesty International.

Anyanwu, S.O. and Nwanaju (2010). Boko Haram-religious conflicts and dialogue initiatives in Nigeria. Owerri: Edu-Eddy Publications.

Buzan, B. Waevver, O. and Wilde, J. (1998), Security: A Framework for Analysis, Boulder: Lynne Rienner.

Daily Trust (2014). Editorial: Nigeria and the Spate of Terrorism. April 26, Vol. 36, No. 6.

Freedman, L. (1998), “International Security: Changing Targets; Foreign Policy, 110;48-63.

Herskovits, J. (2012). “Is it really about Boko Haram”? The Leadership, January 6, pp. 43.

Jonathan, G.A, (2014). President Jonathan Speech at UN Assembly of Heads of States, 2014.

Kwanashie, M. “Diagnostic Review of Insurgencies” in Obafemi, O & Galadima, H. ed. (2013)Procedings of the NIPSS 2012 Eminent Persons & Experts Group Meeting     National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria.

Mark, O. (2010). How to lose the war on terror. London: Hurst and Company.

Moulaye, Z. (2006), Democratic Governance of Security in Mali; A Sustainable Development.

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