Joe Parkinson

Joe Parkinson

Brit abroad. Africa Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal. Previously covering Europe and the Middle East.

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The drivers and their passengers say they need urgent assistance from the government. Sani Adamu called for immediate action: “We have no other occupation to cater for our families other than driving on these dangerous roads.”

The swelling tide of lawlessness on these highways comes amid the government’s faltering “supercamp” strategy to combat the decadelong insurgency, which has metastasized into one of the world’s deadliest jihadist campaigns.

The strategy, which has consolidated military forces in big cities, has created a paradox: Garrisoned cities like Maiduguri feel more secure but surrounding roads & countryside have become a kind of no man’s land,plagued by even deeper levels of insecurity.

Another driver, Ahmadu Kachalla, said that on 3 occasions he has had to make an emergency U-turn and speed away after realizing the checkpoint ahead was manned not by the Nigerian army, but by jihadist fighters: “The attacks are now so common, they have become almost normal.”

Some drivers say the only way to survive is to pay protection money to Boko Haram. Others say that even if they avoid the militants’ mobile checkpoints, members of security services will force them to pay a bribe, usually referred to as “water money.”

Governor Zulum once drove a taxi to pay his way through college, but his convoy has been attacked twice in recent months. He told President Buhari in August that the super-camp strategy was “unwise and not working.”

Read the full story and see the great photos from @fatiabubakarrr  here:

Latest from @Nicholasbariyo  in Kampala, where the death toll is rising after clashes between protesters and the security forces. Omens are not good ahead of January elections:

Will be rewatching this tonight in tribute. Recommended viewing to understand the genius and the devil on his shoulder.

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12 hours since security forces fired live rounds at #endSARS  protesters at Lekki toll gate and no word from Nigeria’s government.

I was last at Lekki toll gate on Monday night - this was the scene.

Tonight Nigerian security forces stormed the most prominent site of the #EndSARS  protests in Lagos, firing live rounds & killing several people as the government sought to end two weeks of marches against police brutality. Here's our report - and a thread:

The youth-led protests in Nigeria are still growing - and today the #EndSARS  demonstrators managed to essentially shut down Africa's largest city. I'm in Lagos -- here's a link to our latest story and a short thread on why you need to pay attention.

So... President Biden may be much less welcoming to Buhari; much more skeptical about selling weapons to Nigeria’s military and much more forthright in criticising any crackdown on protests. That’s why, despite the tweets, some at the top of the Buhari administration are nervous.

As Nigeria commiserates the 10 year anniversary since the eruption of the Boko Haram insurgency, the Presidency & Military are still repeating the line that the militants have been "technically defeated." Here is a story that shows the reality behind those soundbites. (THREAD)