Most westerners never got the full message of Boko Haram’s activities until April 2014. However, the group had been in operation of longer before then. In actual fact, boko haram, had started decades ago. Its activities had threatened the unity of Nigeria exceedingly.
The activities of boko haram actually began with the preaching of one Mohammed Marwa. He was born in 1927. He moved to Kano when he was about 18 years old. This was when he started his career as a preacher.
He was known for his bizarre and extreme sermons, which were against western culture. Sooner than later, his reputation and popularity grow across most of the northern part of Nigeria.
Soon, people started calling him Maitatsine, which translates to “The one who damns”. According to him, it is sinful and akin to paganism if anyone reads any book different from the Koran.
He prohibited his followers from reading the Sunnah or the Hadiths. At a point, he almost declared that he was the prophet sent by Allah.
The Nigerian political leaders ignored Maitatsine at the initial stage of his teachings. Soon, his sermons became somewhat anti-government and this forced the political leaders to wade in.
The government started taking interest in his activities in the later part of 1970s. The crackdown resulted into a religious uprising in 1980 in the northern part of Nigeria. Followers of Maitatsine rose up to riot against the government in the years that followed.
Those who died during the riot numbered up to 4,000; Maitatsine too was killed in the process.
Despite his death, his movement remained. In 1982, his followers rose against the government again and this led to the death of up to 3,300 people in Bulumkutu.
They rose up against the government again in 1984 in the then Gongola State and this led to the death of up to 1,000 people. Several hundreds of people were killed about a year later in Bauchi State.
Boko Haram itself was founded in 2002 in Borno State by a group of Islamic clerics. Its founder was Mohammed Yusuf, who was a known fundamentalist and his thinking was influenced by Wahhabi theology. Their intention was to implement Sharia law in Nigeria and turn the country to full Islamic country.
Boko Haram was radical when it started, but it was not violent. They started tending towards violence in 2009. Several members of boko haram were arrested in the following years and this led to a riot, which led to the death of up to 800 people.
This led to the arrest of Mohammed Yusuf and his execution without trial. Abubakar Shekau became the new leader of boko haram and he resorted to the use of terrorist tactics to advance the agenda of the group. This brought about the recognition of boko haram as an international terrorist group.
Their activities negatively affected the economy of those parts of northern Nigeria. The most bizarre of all the activities of boko haram was the kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls by the boko haram terrorists between 14th and 15th of April, 2014.