Somaliland: Mistrust between Nigeria, Cameroon stalls fight against Boko Haram .


By: Omar. A. Omar

(Somalilandsun) – Nigeria says Cameroon has been too passive in the fight against the insurgents and allowed Boko Haram to use its territory as a rear base and supply route. That appears to have changed, with Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Brigade clashing with the insurgents almost daily.

Ghana’s President Mahama says the growing threat is forcing Lake Chad countries towards cooperation. “Mistrust is one of the obstacles but I think that with the clear and present danger most countries face if something was not done about Boko Haram, we have reached the point where they are willing to work together,” he said.

However, neighboring countries blame Nigeria’s military shortcomings. In October, it was agreed that regional troops in Baga would play a defensive role at the border while Nigerian forces would attack Boko Haram within its territory. But Niamey pulled its troops from Baga after the Nigerian army lost town after town to Boko Haram and its soldiers fled into Niger.

“Even early on, it became apparent that the Nigerian troops were somewhat avoiding battles and were not vigorously taking on Boko Haram offensives,” a senior military officer in Niamey said.

“Chad and Niger decided to withdraw their troops from Baga, unwilling to serve as cannon fodder.” Nigerian defence ministry spokesman Gen. Chris Olukolade, taking questions on Twitter, denied the military leadership was “corrupt and incompetent” and said the armed forces were “highly patriotic and committed”.

Following a lull in attacks between late October and early November, Nigeria announced a surprise ceasefire with the group, brokered by Chad. However, it was rejected by Boko Haram, which stepped up its attacks. Ahead of Nigeria’s Feb. 14 presidential election, the army has been on the back foot rather than preparing counter offensives, Mesdoua said.

This has allowed Boko Haram to stage attacks with increased fire power in Cameroon, angering officials in Yaounde who accuse Nigeria of abandoning the fight.