Twin bomb blasts in Dikwa IDP camps is more embarrassment for Buhari’s government

Yesterday morning, tragedy struck the people of Borno State again. In the fourth attack in the north-eastern state in just a little over two weeks, twin bombs exploded in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons, killing over 50 people, mostly women and children.

The female bombers reportedly detonated explosives while the camp’s residents were queuing for rations on Tuesday morning. The attack on Dikwa, which is some 90 kilometres away from the state’s capital, Maiduguri, and home to about 50,000 displaced people, is said to be a reprisal for an assault by the Nigerian military on Boko Haram’s strongholds around the area last week.

A local official told the BBC that the injured casualties were over 60, many of whom are in critical condition. According to the chairman of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, Satomi Ahmed, there were three female bombers, but the third refused to detonate her explosives when she realised that members of her family were in camp and she surrendered to authorities.

Reacting to the news, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo expressed anger and anguish saying, “The full weight of the Federal Government’s force will be deployed to hunt down the perpetrators of this evil act…words can’t capture the anguish we felt, when our citizens were subjected to the terror of the suicide bombing at the IDP camp in Dikwa.” He also promised “formidable security” in and around all IDP camps, with “renewed measures” being put in place to guard against future occurrences.

Again, these attacks, which seem to be increasing in number, indicate that the “technical defeat” of Boko Haram being professed by the government is questionable and that the military needs to switch tactics as it appears that the terrorists have done so. This is not the first terrorist attack on an IDP camp. Last year, about five attacks were launched on IDP camps. According to reports, more attacks would have taken place if officials had not found some militants who had snuck into camps with explosives. Hence, one would have expected better security in and around IDP camps already.

The Nigerian government and the military need to get over their concerns of a tarnished image, an embarrassment as the president described it, and move to counteract the new strategy of Boko Haram – soft targets. Both parties are quite aware of this new strategy, the president confirmed this when he said that they (terrorists) no longer launch conventional attacks and that they remain a force only in Borno state. Why, then, has the military been so unsuccessful in anticipating and thwarting their attacks?

Out of about 2.23 million displaced persons in the north-east, Borno state shelters the highest number of IDP’s – over a million.

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