Suicide bombings, mass kidnappings, tens of thousands of people killed. A ghastly insurgency by the homegrown Islamic extremist group Boko Haram marks 10 years this week in northeastern Nigeria, where many residents say life has been set back by decades.
Boko Haram seized the world’s attention with the mass kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, sparking a #BringBackOurGirls campaign supported by then-U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and others. While many schoolgirls have since been freed, countless other people abducted over the decade remain lost to their loved ones. They include aid workers; on Wednesday a recently seized nurse pleaded in a video for Nigeria’s government to help, saying they could be killed.
Even though Boko Haram has been in the public eye for 10 years, not much is still known about the extremist group, said Matthew Page, associate fellow with the London-based international affairs group Chatham House.
Mamman, whose displaced family has sheltered in the city for five years, said he imagined the extremists could be weary as well after a decade on the run.
“Ten years is just enough for them to give up and embrace peace,” he said. He plans to do his part. He is now studying at the University of Maiduguri and says he will use his experience to persuade Boko Haram’s members “in my own little ways” to put down their arms for good.