Mohammed Yusuf

Boko Haram was established in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf to establish sharia rule in Nigeria. More than 280,000 people joined the sect in northern Nigeria and surrounding countries. Nigerian security forces assassinated Yusuf in 2009 as a result of sectarian conflict. Members of Boko Haram include university professors, bankers, political elites, drug addicts, jobless graduates, almajiris, and migrants from neighbouring countries.

Boko Haram’s primary affiliation is the Jama’tIzalat al Bida’aWaIqamat as Sunna (Society of Removal of Innovation and Reestablishment of the Sunna) is The Qur’anic phrase reportedly influences its adherents: ‘Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors.’ Like the Maitatsine movement, Boko Haram’s members are motivated by deep-seated socio-economic and political grievances such as corruption and poor governance.

They describe themselves as follows;

We want to reiterate that we are warriors who are carrying out Jihad (religious war) in Nigeria and our struggle is based on the traditions of the holy prophet. We will never accept any system of government apart from the one stipulated by Islam because that is the only way that the Muslims can be liberated. We do not believe in any system of government, be it traditional or orthodox, except the Islamic system which is why we will keep on fighting against democracy, capitalism, socialism and whatever. We will
not allow the Nigerian Constitution to replace the laws that have been enshrined in the Holy Qur’an, we will not allow adulterated conventional education (Boko) to replace Islamic teachings. We will not respect the Nigerian government because it is illegal. We will continue to fight its military and the police because they are not protecting Islam. We do not believe in the Nigerian judicial system and we will fight anyone who assists the government in perpetrating illegalities.

Boko Haram statement
(Leadership 2011)

The relative poverty and inequality level in the north has prompted many experts and groups to claim that socioeconomic hardship is the primary driver of Boko Haram’s violent campaign in northern Nigeria. ‘Boko Haram is the symptom of the failure of nation-building and democratic politics in Nigeria’ – A. R. Mustapha of Oxford University (2012). He writes, ‘Economic hardship and corruption create and aggravate financial and social inequalities in a community, which drive political instability.’