After struggling for years with military rulers, Nigeria finally achieved civilian rule in 1999, but the country is now finding itself in turmoil once again with militant Islamist group Boko Haram having waged a war against the state. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” is advocating creation of an Islamic state.
Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the group carried out a series of attacks on police and government institutions in Maiduguri in 2009. The ensuing response by the government led to the death of hundreds of its supporters including Yusuf. However, the insurgents re-grouped under a new leader, Abubakar Shekau, and in 2010, freed hundreds of its supporters from a Bauchi jail. Since then, it has carried out a number of attacks across the country, establishing a pan-nation presence. In November 2011, US Congressional report mentioned Boko Haram as an ‘emerging threat’ to the US and its interests. The group is also said to have links with al-Qaeda-linked groups in Africa. However, Boko Haram has denied these reports.