Boko Haram: On the Road to Algiers?

  • Adedokun Ogunfolu
  • Usang Maria Assim
  • Oludamilola Adejumo


This paper establishes a chilling parallel between Algerian Islamic insurgency and Boko Haram terrorist attacks in Nigeria and parts of West and Central Africa and maps out Nigeria’s reaction to the Boko Haram insurgency, including mass atrocities perpetrated by Nigerian security troops. The paper lays out violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law perpetrated by both sides of the conflict, belatedly recognised as a non-international armed conflict in 2013 by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Focusing on Boko Haram’s most horrendous atrocities from 2010 to 2015, media coverage of these attacks is synthesised without discountenancing the horror and unimaginable pains experienced by the victims and the survivors of more numerous but lower casualty rates of Boko Haram attacks. Foreign response to the emergence of Boko Haram is also examined against the background of the requirements of international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria evolved from a peaceful religious reaction to corrupt governance, by western educated elites, into violent murderous attacks against symbols of the Nigerian state and unarmed civilians. Most sections of northern Nigeria seem caught up in a time warp of arrested socio-economic development and never-ceasing endemic poverty, while tiny elites continue to live off state revenues. Accountable political leadership, with a clear focus and plan on tackling the socio-economic imbalances within the region and across the country, is the panacea to Boko Haram.


  1. A Closer Look at Nigeria: Security, Governance, and Trade, 29 March 2012. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  2. Abonyi I (2011) Boko Haram trained in Algeria, Afghanistan: SSS unveils suspects, confirms Al Qaeda link. Thisday 16(5974):1, 7Google Scholar
  3. Adepegba A (2011) SSS unmasks alleged UN bombing masterminds: we got a tip eight days before bombing-security agents. The Punch 17(20,958):1–2Google Scholar
  4. Adepegba A, Soriwei F (2012) SSS re-arrests Kabiru Sokoto inside Wardrobe: how he influenced late Yusuf’s visit to Sokoto in 2009. The Punch 7110(1660):6Google Scholar
  5. Adetayo O et al (2015) 276 days after Chibok girls abduction, President visits Borno. The Punch 39(20,838):2Google Scholar
  6. Adibe J (2012) Nigeria without Nigerians? Boko Haram and the crisis in Nigeria’s nation-building project. Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd, AbujaGoogle Scholar
  7. Akinmutimi T, Adeyemi D (2011) Jonathan to Spend N300m on Dinner Sets…higher than ICPC capital vote, fuelling vehicles, generators, cooking gas to gulp N168.72m. National Mirror 1(263):1, 5Google Scholar
  8. Alechenu J (2011) 18 killed in Abuja UN Bombing. Saturday Punch 7086(1576):1–6; UN, U.S. Join in fight against Boko Haram: AFRICOM commander reportedly warned Nigeria ahead of attack. The Guardian 29(11,932):1, 3–6Google Scholar
  9. Ali Y et al (2011) Xmas day bombings: church death toll hits 43. The Nation 7(1990):1Google Scholar
  10. Ameh J, Owuamanam J (2014) Military lied about schoolchildren recue-principal, parents. The Punch 38(20,643):2Google Scholar
  11. Ameh J et al (2014) B’Haram abducts 100 schoolgirls in Borno. The Punch 38(20,641):1–2; Parents join soldiers in bush search for 99 girls. The Nation 9(2822):1Google Scholar
  12. Amnesty International (2012) Nigeria: trapped in the cycle of violence, (London) 11. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  13. Amnesty International (2014) Nigeria: more than 1,500 killed in armed conflict in North-Eastern Nigeria in Early 2014. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  14. Amnesty International (2015) Nigeria satellite images show horrific scale of Boko Haram attack on Baga. Accessed 22 Jan 2015
  15. An Interview with Abdelmalek Droukdal –, 1 July 2008. Available at Accessed 22 Jun 2014
  16. Anozie SU (2012) Human rights and terrorism: the Niger Delta Oil War. In: Masaeli M (ed) Morality and terrorism: an interfaith perspective. Nortia Press, Santa AnaGoogle Scholar
  17. Audu SD (2012) The Almajiri Institution, Boko Haram, and Terrorism in Northern Nigeria. In: Masaeli M (ed) Morality and terrorism: an interfaith perspective. Nortia Press, Santa AnaGoogle Scholar
  18. Balogun A et al (2012) Many feared dead as bomb explosions rock Kano. Saturday Punch 7107(1597):1, 7Google Scholar
  19. BBC News (2014a) Nigeria Boko Haram crisis 20 women abducted in north. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  20. BBC News (2014b) Obama West point speech in full with analysis 2014; May 29. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  21. BBC News (2014c) Nigeria’s Boko Haram targets village vigilantes. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  22. BBC News (2014d) Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘seizes women’ in Borno, Accessed 24 Jun 2014
  23. BBC News Africa (2014) Nigeria Boko Haram crisis: President vows ‘total war’. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  24. Blair D (2011) Does Nigeria’s Taliban have the West in its Sights? The Telegraph, London 2011; Dec. 28. Available at Accessed 21 Jun 2014
  25. Botha A (2013) Practical guide to understanding and preventing suicide operations in Africa. ISS, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  26. Cohen HJ (2013) Al Qaeda in Africa: the creeping menace to Sub-Sahara’s 500 Million Muslims. Am Foreign Policy Interests 35:63–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives (2012) Hearing on LRA, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, AQIM and other sources of instability in Africa, Apr 25. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  28. Crowley R, Wilkinson H (2013) Boko Haram: a new threat in West Africa. In: Trémolières M (ed) Conflict over resources and terrorism: two facets of insecurity. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
  29. Daily Sun (2011) It’s Black Christmas, as Catholic Morning Mass Ends in…Mass Murder: 35 Killed as Boko Haram Bombs Church in Madalla, Niger. 6(2267):1, 4, 6–9Google Scholar
  30. Dasuki MS (2014) Nigeria’s soft approach to countering terrorism’ roll out of Nigeria’s soft approach to countering terrorism, Abuja. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  31. Dinstein Y (2013) The principle of proportionality. In: Larsen KM, Cooper CG, Nystuen G (eds) Searching for a ‘principle of humanity’ in international humanitarian law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  32. Ehikioya A (2014a) Jonathan offers amnesty to Boko Haram members. The Nation. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  33. Ehikioya A (2014b) We’ll soon get over insurgency, says Jonathan. The Nation 9(2819):4Google Scholar
  34. Ero C (2014) Nigeria’s insurgency has to be tackled at the roots. Financial Times, New York, p 9Google Scholar
  35. Evans M (2012) Algeria: France’s undeclared war. OUP, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Evans M, Phillips J (2007) Algeria: anger of the dispossessed. Yale University Press, YaleGoogle Scholar
  37. Fisk R (2005) The great war for civilization: the conquest of the Middle East. HarperCollins, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Forest JF (2012) Confronting the terrorism of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Joint Special Operations University Press Publications, Macdill Airforce Base, TampaGoogle Scholar
  39. Gurr TR (1970) Why men rebel. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  40. Habermas J (1975) Legitimation crisis, Thomas McCarthy English translation. Beacon Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  41. Haug H (ed) (1993) Humanity for all: the international red cross and red crescent movement. Henry Dunant Institute, Geneva and Paul Haupt Publishers, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  42. Heyns C (2003–2004) The African regional human rights system: the African charter. Penn State Law Rev 108:679–689Google Scholar
  43. Hinshaw D (2014) Car bomb at Abuja Mall kills at least 21 people: frustrated Nigerians assemble own armies. Wall Street J A1, A8Google Scholar
  44. Human Rights Watch (2012) Spiralling violence: Boko Haram attacks and security forces abuses in Nigeria 32–34. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  45. Hussey A (2014) French intifida: the long war between France and its Arabs. FSG, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Ikhiale E (2014) Convicted Kabiru Sokoto begs Jonathan for pardon. The Nation 2014; May 27. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  47. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (2008) How is the term “armed conflict” defined in international humanitarian law? Opinion Paper, March. Available at–170308/$file/Opinionpaper-armed-conflict.pdf. Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  48. International Crisis Group (2014) Curbing violence in Nigeria (II): the Boko Haram insurgency. Afr Rep 216:25. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014Google Scholar
  49. Iroegbu S (2014) Abuja Emab plaza bombing death toll hits 22. Thisday Live. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  50. Iroegbu S, Obi P (2011) Victims recall moments before UN bomb attack. Thisday 16(5970):1, 8Google Scholar
  51. Ishaku J (2009) Boko Haram: how religious intolerance threatens Nigeria. Courier Communications, JosGoogle Scholar
  52. Jimoh AM et al (2014) 71 feared killed, 124 injured in Abuja terrorist bombing. The Guardian 30(12,892):1–2Google Scholar
  53. Josiah O, Adetayo O (2011) Jonathan declares state of emergency in parts of Borno, Yobe, Niger, plateau: orders border shut. Sunday Punch 18(19,671):1, 11Google Scholar
  54. Lahoud N et al (2012) Letters from Abbottad: Bin Ladin Sidelined? Harmony program: the combating terrorism Center at West Point, U.S. Military Academy; 14. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014; Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  55. Le Sueur JD (2010) Algeria since 1989: between terror and democracy. Zed Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  56. Maiangwa B et al (2012) Baptism by fire: Boko Haram and the reign of terror in Nigeria. Afr Today 59(2):40–48Google Scholar
  57. Maiese M (2003) Human rights violations. Beyond intractability. In: Burgess G, Burgess H (eds) Conflict information consortium. University of Colorado, Boulder. Available at Accessed 20 June 2014Google Scholar
  58. Miller ZJ (2014) U.S. to send team to Nigeria to help find kidnapped girls. Time 2014; May 6. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  59. Mohammed A [edited by Mohammed Haruna] (2010) The paradox of Boko Haram. Moving Image Ltd, KanoGoogle Scholar
  60. Nixon R (2014) Nigeria television becomes front for U.S. in terrorism fight: state department ramps up efforts against Boko Haram. New York Times 2014; Jun 6. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  61. Nossiter A (2014) New kidnappings in Nigeria lead U.S. to offer aid. The New York Times 2014; May 7: A1Google Scholar
  62. Nwaubani AT (2014) BBC News Letter from Africa: Nigerian pride and foreign assistance. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  63. Odebode N et al (2011) FG to spend N11.25bn on foreign trips in 2012. The Punch 17(20,043):1–2Google Scholar
  64. Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State (2012) Terrorist designations of Boko Haram Commander Abubakar Shekau, Khalid al-Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kambar. Media Note, Washington, DC. 21 June. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  65. Okpi A (2012) Multiple blasts rock Kano: death toll rises to 162. Sunday Punch 18(19,674):3Google Scholar
  66. Oloja M et al (2011) Abuja UN office bombing claims one more worker: EU, Germany condemns attacks on churches. The Guardian 29(12,054):63Google Scholar
  67. Onogu S (2011) We know sponsors of bomb blasts-Jonathan. The Nation 5(1872):1, 3Google Scholar
  68. Onuoha FC (2012a) The audacity of the Boko Haram: background, analysis and emerging trend. Secur J 25(2):136–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Onuoha FC (2012b) From Ahlulsunna wal’jama’ah hijra to Jama’atu Ahlissunnah lidda’awati wal Jihad: the evolutionary phases of the Boko Haram Sect in Nigeria. Afr Insight 41(4):159–163Google Scholar
  70. Oraá J (1992) Human rights in states of emergency in international law. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  71. OTP Report on Preliminary Examinations (2011) 12–13. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  72. Paden JN (2012) Postelection conflict management in Nigeria: the challenges of national unity. George Mason University Press, FairfaxGoogle Scholar
  73. Paulus A, Vashakmadze M (2009) Asymmetrical war and the notion of armed conflict: a tentative conceptualization. Int Rev Red Cross 91(873):95–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Pham JP (2012) Boko Haram’s evolving threat. Afr Secur Brief 20:4. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014Google Scholar
  75. Salihu M (2012) Boko Haram leader, wife killed in 5-hour gunfight. The Punch 17(20,061):8Google Scholar
  76. SAS - NGA - Public version Article 5 Report – 131 (05 August 2013) Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  77. Sassoli M, Bouvier A (1999) How does law protect in war? Cases, documents and teaching materials on contemporary practice in international humanitarian law. ICRC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  78. Shelton DR, Carozza PG (2013) Regional protection of human rights. OUP, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  79. Somorin Z (2014) Liechtenstein to return Abacha’s looted fund. Thisday Live. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  80. Soniyi T (2014) FG begins process to repatriate Ogwuche, Mastermind of Nyanya Bomb Blasts. Thisday Live. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  81. Soniyi T et al (2014) Chibok girls Australia to deploy special forces, IG Overrules Mbu. Thisday Live 2014; Jun 4. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  82. Soriwei F, Adetayo O (2014) Emergency rule: FG to decide on extension wednesday. The Punch 19(19,789):2Google Scholar
  83. Soriwei F, Idowu K (2014) Kidnapped schoolgirls: Nigeria extends search to Cameroon, Chad borders. The Punch 19(19,789):2Google Scholar
  84. Soriwei F et al (2014a) Sorrow, tears as Abuja blast kills 89. The Guardian 38(20,640):1–2Google Scholar
  85. Soriwei F et al (2014b) Suicide bomber kills 30 in Maiduguri. The Punch 38(20,576):1–2Google Scholar
  86. The Additional Protocol I (of 8 June 1977) to the Geneva Conventions of 1949Google Scholar
  87. The Additional Protocol II (of 12 August 1949) to the Geneva Conventions of 1949Google Scholar
  88. The Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  89. The American Convention on Human RightsGoogle Scholar
  90. The European Convention on Human RightsGoogle Scholar
  91. The Guardian (2014) ‘I’ve lived in Kano for 25 Years, But Today, I am Afraid…So, I’ve to Move My Family Home’. 29 (12,085): 1–2Google Scholar
  92. The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act (2011)Google Scholar
  93. The Nation (2014a) 219 Chibok girls’ ordeal, by Australian negotiator; Jun 2. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  94. The Nation (2014b) US drones reveal Boko Haram’s movements, new camps; May 17. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  95. The Prosecutor v. Tadic Case No. 160 ICTY (1995) 1. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  96. The Punch Editorial (2015) Baga massacre: diminishing value of Nigerian lives. The Punch 39(20,838):28Google Scholar
  97. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998)Google Scholar
  98. The Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice (2013) Available at,%202013.pdf. Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  99. The Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act (2013)Google Scholar
  100. U.S. Policy Toward Nigeria: West Africa’s Troubled Titan, 10 July 2012. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  101. Umar MS (2012) The popular discourses of Salafi radicalism and Salafi counter-radicalism in Nigeria: a case study of Boko Haram. J Relig Afr 42:118–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Usman LM (2008) Assessing the universal basic education primary and Koranic schools synergy for Almajiri street boys in Nigeria. Int J Educ Manag 22(1):67–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Walker A (2014) Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram. BBC News 2014; May 13. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014
  104. Winters CA (1987) Koranic education and militant Islam in Nigeria. Int Rev Educ 33(2):177–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. York G (2014) Boko Haram insurgency exposes Nigeria’s extreme economic inequality. The Globe and Mail, Toronto. Available at Accessed 20 Jun 2014Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adedokun Ogunfolu
    • 1
  • Usang Maria Assim
    • 2
  • Oludamilola Adejumo
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of LawObafemi Awolowo UniversityIle-IfeNigeria
  2. 2.Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights, Faculty of LawUniversity of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Legal Services UnitUniversity of Medical SciencesOndo CityNigeria

Personalised recommendations