Every one of the 30+ states in Nigeria issues license plates for road vehicles. Each state has its own slogan which appears under the License Number. Borno State in the far North East – State capital Maiduguri – has the inspiring slogan “Home of Peace”. It has a reassuring tone to it. Sadly, it is hard to justify these days.
There is a current article on the BBC website about Maiduguri – a place which is dear to me – entitled Maiduguri – Nigeria’s city of fear. Chatting to a friend there recently it is definitely the case that tension is much higher there these days but whether there is more fear there than in the ongoing disatsers of, say, Port Harcourt or Jos, is hard to say. Every few years there have been riots by young Moslem hotheads which seem sometimes to have been inspired by the hope of looting as much as religious fervour. There have been strong suspicions that some politicians have used religious tensions to cement power and have turned a blind eye to some of the vicious violence while it happened. Well now the Genie is out of the bottle and since the Boko Haram miniwar two years ago anyone who is seen to be cooperating with the security forces is seen as fair game – even a brother of the current Governor.
It is the randomness of the killing which is most worrying and the police are as random as the Boko Haram – terrorists in uniform.