The Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram has released a video showing members claiming to be from Niger State.
A footage seen by The Guardian Nigeria shows about 100 persons praying Eid in the heart of a bush before showing three fighters sending Eid greetings in Hausa, English and Fulfulde.
“It is we the Jamahatu Ali Sunna li Dawatul Jihad in the location of Niger State. We want to send our sallah salutation, first of all to our imam, Abu Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Abubakar Shekau,” a terrorist, dressed in a Nigerian police uniform said.
“The dense forest there is a perfect haven for terrorists and if the group is able to consolidate its presence in Niger, it can easily target Abuja as well as to other states like Kwara and Kogi,” Bulama Bukarti, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in London, said while reacting to the video.
South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies recently reported that Boko Haram is extending its reach from north-east Nigeria into the country’s north-west.
It added that the terrorists are taking advantage of old and new local conflicts and insecurities to further embed themselves in the area through violent extremism.
Since January 2019 thousands of people in the north-west states of Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara have been killed or injured. Others have lost their livelihoods, at least 23 000 have been displaced and dozens have been abducted for ransom, nurturing an economy of violence, ISS Africa reported.
Communities in the north-west and north-central Nigeria, lacking state protection, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the converging threats.
Boko Haram has killed more than 36,000 people and caused the displacement of nearly two million from their homes in northeastern Nigeria since 2009, Reuters reported.
The violence spilt over into neighbouring Sahel countries in 2015, especially in the Lake Chad region, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.
Diffa, a city of 200,000 people located near the Nigerian border, has been repeatedly attacked.
The region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released in October.
The countries about Lake Chad, together with Benin, have set up a combined group, the Multinational Joint Task Force, to counter the terrorists.