Every 22nd December, Nigeria mourns victims of Boko Haram insurgents and celebrates the victory of Nigeria’s military.  The day is commemorated as Sambisa Memorial Day.

The Sambisa Forest

The Sambisa Forest is a forest in Borno State, northeast Nigeria. It is in the southwestern part of Chad Basin National Park, about 60 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.

The name of the forest comes from the village of Sambisa which is on the border with Gwoza in the East. The forest had a large population of Leopards, Lions, Elephants, and Hyenas before its occupation in 2013 by the Boko Haram terrorists.

Declaration of 22nd December as Sambisa Memorial day

In 2017, Governor Kashim Shettima declared 22nd December as Sambisa day. He announced this while declaring open the 2017 Nigeria Small arms championship in Sambisa forest. He said that 22nd December will be marked as a Public Holiday in Borno to celebrate the strength and the victory of our Armed Forces.

According to him, December 22 was chosen for the annual public holiday because it was on December 22, 2016, that the Nigerian Armed Forces took over the Sambisa Forest from Boko Haram.

Further, he said that the day would also be used to remember the victims of the Boko Haram terrorism and the families they had left behind, the members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and volunteers who lost their lives in the fight against the insurgents.

Since 2017, December 22nd of each year is marked as Sambisa Memorial Day. It is a public holiday in Borno State. On Sambisa Memorial day, the victims of Boko Haram insurgents are mourned, the victory recorded by the Nigerian Military is celebrated, the fallen soldiers and volunteers who have sacrificed their lives fighting Boko Haram since 2009 in different parts of Borno State, are remembered.

In 2017, Mansur Dan Ali, former Nigerian Minister of Defense affirmed categorically that “never again will Boko Haram territories occupy any of our lands”. Nigeria’s military will keep working to ensure the safety of all in Nigeria.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram is a terrorist group that has publicly declared being affiliated with Al-Qaeda. It seeks to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state. Boko Haram began as an isolated sect in Yobe state, northeastern Nigeria, in 2002 under the leadership of Mohamed Yusuf.

Mohammed Yusuf died on 30th July 2009 after the 2009 Boko Haram Uprising. Some sources have it that he died in police custody while others said that he was executed. The 2009 Boko Haram uprising was a conflict between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s security forces.

It started in Bauchi and spread to Bornu, Kano, and Yobe. Notwithstanding, the activities of the group continued under the leadership of his deputy, Abubakar Shekau.

Since the formation of the group in 2002, Boko Haram has continually contributed to the degeneration and disruption of peace and progress in Nigeria. In addition, it has contributed to the depopulation of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.

As a result of its terrorist operations, over 1 million Nigerians have been displaced. More than 10,000 Nigerians have been killed. Many children have become orphans.

Nigeria has lost so much human and material resources in its effort to combat Boko Haram. The group’s hideout before the victory of Nigeria’s military over it was the Sambisa forest.