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Sambisa To Be Converted To Tourism Centre – Army | The Precision

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Logo of the Nigerian Army

Nigerian army says it wants to turn the Sambisa
forest into a tourist destination. The plan, however, has a catch: the
area is home to a vicious insurgency.

 

At least 34,000 people have
died in Boko Haram’s nine-year revolt, according to the Armed Conflict
Location & Event Data Project. 
Boko Haram gained global notoriety in 2014 kidnapping more than 270
schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, uses the forest in northeastern
Nigeria as a stronghold. 
Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, announced the plan and it was tweeted by a presidential aide on Wednesday. 
“Nigerian
Army to collaborate with National Park Service and Borno State
Government to turn Sambisa forest to tourist centre to attract tourists
into the country – Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai,” said
Bashir Ahmad, President Muhammadu Buhari’s new media aide. 
Ahmad
did not say how the military plans to attract tourists to Sambisa while
it shelters Boko Haram and a military spokesman did not respond to
requests seeking comment. 

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Buhari and Buratai have said repeatedly
the insurgency is defeated, but while the group has lost ground in
recent years it continues to carry out attacks. Splinter group Islamic
State in West Africa kidnapped more than 100 schoolgirls from the town
of Dapchi in February. Most were released. 
The
army’s plan appears to reflect a disconnect between the perception of
Nigeria’s leaders and the situation on the ground. The army has lost
some recent clashes with the insurgents and civilians still face
kidnapping, robbery and frequent suicide bombings. 
The insurgency
began in 2009 when police killed Boko Haram’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
Before that, the northeastern state of Borno was popular with tourists.
Sambisa itself was a game reserve under and after British colonial rule. 
More recently, the thick vegetation which extends for hundred of
square miles has provided a haven for the militancy and helped thwart
army attempts to eradicate the group. 
The 2018 blockbuster movie
“Black Panther” gives a nod to Sambisa and Boko Haram as the superhero
rescues kidnapped schoolgirls from a militant group in the forest.

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Many
of the actual Chibok girls were held in Sambisa. More than 100 remain
unaccounted for, though investigative journalist Ahmad Salkida has said
only 30 remain alive. 
It is not the first time Nigerian authorities have mooted turning a Boko Haram site into an attraction. 
Last
year, Borno state officials discussed turning the group founder Yusuf’s
house into a museum. This raised concern it could become a place of
homage for Boko Haram’s sympathisers. (Reuters)

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