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ICC Note: Nigerian President Buhari has vowed to defeat Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group, by December of 2015. In recent months, the Nigerian military have gained major victories and returned large portions of the embattled northeastern states into the hands of Nigeria once again. As regions previously held by Boko Haram return to normal, citizens continue to be wary and vigilant towards their situation. Even though the terrorist group no longer has a strong foothold in the liberated regions, they still maintain consistent suicide attacks in and around Maiduguri and Mubi in northeastern Nigeria. Christian communities are at greater risk as Boko Haram has been notorious for targeting Christians through rape, murder, and kidnappings. Recently, Muslim communities have faced similar acts of violence especially mosques which have been a primary target for suicide bombings. 

11/03/2015 Nigeria (Reuters) – Life seems to be returning to normal in this northern Nigerian town a year after the army expelled the Islamist fighters of Boko Haram — shops bustle with customers and vendors hawk their wares in the pot-holed streets.

President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush Boko Haram by December and the army has recaptured much of the territory the jihadists seized in their six-year-old campaign to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria’s remote northeast.

But a recent surge of suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks makes residents doubt there is any end in sight to an insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced 2.1 million. Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 people since Buhari was elected in May on a promise to crush the group.

“We are afraid that they might come back,” said Abubakar Idi, 60, a farmer who fled with his two wives and 16 children when Boko Haram captured Mubi in October last year.

“Anybody who has seen such a terrible thing must be afraid,” he said, sitting in front of his single-storey house and recalling how Boko Haram fighters fired volleys of gunshots at random as they took over the town.

The insurgency is the biggest security challenge facing Africa’s top oil producer, already grappling with a severe economic crisis due to a plunge in oil revenues.

Like thousands of other residents, Idi returned to Mubi, which lies close to the border with Cameroon, when the army started a counter-offensive which has accelerated in recent months.

Signs of fighting can still be seen, despite the buzz in the main market. Banks remain closed having been robbed by Boko Haram, while electricity is almost non-existent.

Schools have reopened in the town but many are still shut in the countryside as the jihadists burned the buildings and killed the teachers. Boko Haram, whose name means Western education is sinful, abhors secular learning.

PROGRESS

Diplomats say the army’s performance has improved since Buhari took office pledging to “fix” Nigeria’s legendary corruption and mismanagement.

The former military ruler has appointed a new army leadership and moved its anti-Boko Haram command center to Borno state, where the jihadists started their revolt.

Residents say Buhari’s anti-corruption drive has had an effect as army commanders are now less inclined to steal resources intended for the security forces, though it remains to be seen how long this trend will last.

Better cooperation with neighboring Chad has helped the Nigerian government to regain several villages, although a long-planned regional cross-border force is still not operational.

Residents say the soldiers no longer run away when Boko Haram arrive in their pickup trucks. “The difference is that back then if there was a report of an attack we all ran with the security men,” said 55-year-old Mohamed Joda, who makes a living repairing bicycles in Mubi.

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