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Uneasy calm in Niger …As Boko Haram ‘rules’ North-East Nigeria

People of the Southern Niger, who share common borders with Nigeria are afraid that the lingering insurgency of the Boko Haram Islamic extremists would spill into their domain.

Residents of Diffa, a regional capital in Niger, say they are worried about infiltration of Boko Haram within the town.

Reports said they are afraid to call the group by its name to avoid drawing attention, referring to its members as “Yayani”, which means “My brother” in a local Kanuri language.

“Of all the towns in Niger threatened by terrorism, we are on the frontline,” said Inoussa Saouna, a central government representative in Diffa, a dusty market town about 170km north of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State which has borne the brunt of Boko Haram onslaught.

Some incidents had suggested that the members of the sect are increasingly seeing Niger’s south east as a rear base as well as a potential target.

Such reported incidents include foiled kidnapping of officials, seizure of arms and arrests of militants.

Niger’s fears are high because, according to analysts, the impoverished nation are wondering how they could quell the insurgency which has defied the “heavily oil-rich Nigeria”.

The head of the military in Niger, Gen. Seyni Garba, said several Boko Haram members trained by militants in Mali were arrested last year after returning with weapons and orders to lie low in the southern town of Madaoua.

However, there have been no major attacks in the country, although the central government in Niamey, capital of Niger, are said to be playing down the threat apparently cautions to avoid provoking Boko Haram.

Saouna mentioned a plot to kidnap him and the local governor in exchange for the release of Boko Haram members jailed in Niger.

“It’s just a question of time before there is a clash, said a foreign security source, “then Niger will be a target”.

“Western countries need to wake up to the threat, “said Saouna. “I’m sure that if the oil was pumped by Total, the West would take a closer look than they do now”.

 

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