- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 20:35
- Written by Reuters
- Hits: 1380
The sect which is behind months of unrest and targeted killings, put up posters around the remote northeastern city of Maiduguri warning of a "full-scale war" and telling civilians to stay away from politicians and members of the security forces.
"We are carrying out these attacks in order to propagate the name of Allah and to liberate ourselves and our religion from the hands of infidels and the Nigerian government," the sect said in posters written in the local Hausa language.
"We are therefore calling on Muslims in this part of the world to be wary because very soon, we would launch a full scale war," it said.
Police spokesman Lawal Abdullahi urged people to remain calm and said the security forces were investigating who was responsible for plastering the messages on public buildings.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sinful", wants sharia (Islamic law) more widely applied across Nigeria but its views are not widely espoused by the country's Muslim population, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sect members launched an uprising in 2009, attacking government buildings and leading to days of gun battles with the security forces in which as many as 800 people were killed.
The sect repeated its claim of responsibility for Christmas Eve bombs in the central city of Jos, which triggered ethnic and religious fighting which has since killed more than 200 people.
The posters described sect members as "warriors of Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, under the leadership of Imam Abu Muhammad Abubakar Bin Muhammad, popularly known as Shekau".
The sect said it killed politician Modu Fannami Gubio and eight others last Friday. Gubio was the state governorship candidate for April polls for the All Nigeria People's Party, which controls Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital.
The city sits in one of Nigeria's poorest regions near its northeastern borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the Sahel, a strip of savannah on the southern edge of the Sahara desert.
The unrest is unlikely to derail national presidential and parliamentary elections also due to be held in April, but it adds to a security headache for President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, which is dealing with the unrest around Jos and the threat of violence in the oil-producing Niger Delta.
The army deployed 870 soldiers to central Plateau state, of which Jos is the capital, this week to replace members of a security taskforce which has been accused of being too slow and partial in dealing with the violence there.
Jos lies more than 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Maiduguri and the dynamics of its conflict -- which centre around ethnic rivalry for political and economic power -- are different to the overtly religious agenda of Boko Haram.
It is unclear how many followers Boko Haram has but poverty, unemployment and a lack of education have meant its leaders have managed to build a cult-like following which is as much violently anti-establishment as fervently religious.
"As you can see, security agents have been deployed to churches to guard them while the same security agents are the ones maltreating the Muslims," the posters said.
"This is the time for all of us to rise and change this government, and give way to Muslim government."
Boko Haram has sometimes been referred to as the "Nigerian Taliban" but no evidence of established operational links with the Taliban in Afghanistan, al Qaeda or any other foreign militant groups has been made public.