Abuja – Boko Haram has reportedly expanded to central Nigeria, where it has established a presence in the biggest state of the West African country.
According to authorities, the Islamist sect has set base in the Niger State where thousands of people have been displaced.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello confirmed the presence of the militants, who have reportedly hoisted their flag in the Shiroro Local Government Area.
More than 3 000 people have been displaced, according to the governor’s office.
Over 50 villages are deserted.
The governor decried the security challenges in the state.
He expressed concern that the militants had forcibly taken the wives of locals.
“They have taken over the territory. They have installed their flag. They have taken over the wives of people by force,” Bello said.
He said the Boko Haram elements were eager to make the Shiroro area a stronghold, much like the Sambisa forest northeast of the country.
Since the reign of terror started in 2009, Boko Haram’s activities have mostly been in the northeast.
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have been the Islamists’ target.
Niger is the biggest state in Nigeria by land size.
One of the country’s 3 states, it is home to Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, two of Nigeria’s former military rulers.