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2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Nigeria

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 5 August 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Nigeria, 5 August 2010, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In 2009, the Government of Nigeria continued efforts to improve coordination, communication, and cooperation between the executive and legislative branches on counterterrorism matters. Progress on counterterrorism legislation in the National Assembly slowed, however, due to reconciliation and consolidation issues between two rival terrorism bills and general legislative lethargy. The National Focal Point on Terrorism, an interagency task force formed in February 2007 composed of the State Security Service (SSS), the Nigerian Customs Service, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Immigration, and other relevant authorities, has been on an extended hiatus since the transfer of its SSS and MFA coordinators. Nigeria is a Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership country.

Subsequently, on July 26, around 70 Islamic militants from a group calling itself "Boko Haram", and which some refer to as the "Nigerian Taliban", attacked an Izala mosque and police station in the Dutsen Tanshi section of Bauchi town with firearms and hand grenades. The attacks resulted in at least 55 deaths and up to 200 arrests. The following day, Boko Haram carried out near-simultaneous attacks against police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State, and police stations in Potsikum, Yobe State; and Wudil, Kano State; provoking police and military sweeps in several states thought to harbor Boko Haram members and sympathizers. Running clashes between security forces and militants reportedly resulted in around 700 deaths, including innocent bystanders. The situation is reminiscent of the largely rural, anti-establishment, and radical movement known as Maitatsine which caused riots in Kano State in December 1980, in which over 4,000 people reportedly died.

The Nigerian military captured Maiduguri-based Boko Haram spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf alive after a siege of his compound, and turned him over to Maiduguri police, whose colleagues had been killed by the group. A local policeman summarily executed Yusuf in front of the station in full view of onlookers, after parading him before television cameras. On August 17, al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) issued a "Statement of Consolation, Advice, and Condolences to our Brothers and Family in Nigeria."

Legislators merged a "private member" Senate bill based on the Commonwealth Secretariat's Model Legislative Provisions on Measures to Combat Terrorism, which passed its second reading on September 17, 2008, with an executive bill sponsored by the presidency. The hybrid legislation, which resembles more the later executive bill, currently awaits a third and final reading in the Senate, before the President may sign it into law. In an October 12, 2009 letter, Nigerian President Yar'Adua asked the National Assembly to pass the legislation to combat terrorism and kidnapping. The bill stipulates a maximum jail term of only five years for those convicted of terrorism.

On December 25, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was associated with al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, attempted to set off an explosive aboard a U.S.-flagged air carrier landing in Detroit, Michigan. Abdulmutallab's flight originated in Nigeria and he changed planes in Amsterdam enroute to the United States. The attack was unsuccessful and Abdulmutallab was charged by a U.S. court with offenses related to the attack.

The Nigerian government continued to operate USG-funded body scanners in all four international airports to detect explosives and drugs on passengers, with numerous successful interdictions of contraband, mainly drugs. Despite repeated USG requests since 2007, the Nigerian government has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding sanctioning the use of U.S. (and Nigerian) Federal Air Marshals on direct flights between Nigeria and the United States. A Transportation Security Administration assessment team visited Nigeria from July 13-17 in conjunction with Delta Airlines' commencement of service from Abuja to New York.

The Nigerian government welcomes and actively participates in U.S. government-sponsored counterterrorism training and capacity building programs. Progress continued on establishment of an additional Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) radar station on the eastern coast to complement one already operational in Lagos. The U.S. military assisted the Government of Nigeria with standing up a specialized counterterrorism unit within the Nigerian military. The American Embassy's Office of Security Cooperation (OSC) conducted three Trans-Sahara Security Symposia in support of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, addressing human development issues that may contribute to the spread of extremism and instability. In addition, OSC sponsored the attendance of nine participants from various agencies at the Trans-Sahara Security Symposium at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Center in Accra, Ghana from December 14-18.

Nigerians participated in Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) courses on: Terrorism Crime Scene Investigation, Airport Security Management, VIP Protection, VIP Protection Management, Fraudulent Documents, and Maritime Interdiction of Terrorism.

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