Before his transition, one of the four pillars of the Borno Emirates - the Emir of Biu – Alhaji Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu developed a trusted and devoted local intelligence network that combined a working knowledge of the security state agencies to fortify his Emirate against several attempts by Boko Haram insurgents to penetrate and take control of his kingdom – according to sources with knowledge of the Emir described as the Lion of Biu.

After the Shuhu of Borno, there are four key Emirates that make up the Borno Emirate council – Dikwa; Bama; Gwoza and Biu. Note that Askira, Uba and Shani Local Government Areas all have Emirs/traditional rulers (1st or 2nd Class). Besides the Shehu of Borno who has always remained in his palace in Maiduguri (himself narrowly escaping a Boko Haram Mosque attack), the Amir of Biu was the only Amir to have remained in his kingdom throughout the insurgency period without relocating or experiencing a direct attack on his palace. The Shehu of Borno, Bama, Dikwa and Gwoza either narrowly escaped a direct attack; relocated from their palace; forced to relocate, or killed by Boko Haram insurgents.

The resilience and determination of the Emir and his people denied Boko Haram the space to spread terror against the people of Biu. This according to sources is an example of the ruler’s tenacity and strategic excellence against the tactics of Boko Haram units.

A report from January 14th, 2015 -- the peak of Boko Haram violent activities --provides an insight to the Emir’s local security structure exhibited when a suspected Boko Haram unit attacked the main town of Biu, the LGA headquarters.

Sources say the proactive and courageous youths were highly mobilized and coordinated with the Nigerian Armed Forces to repell the attack. This local resilience from Biu youths was to play out over and over the years with each jihadist incursion into Biu main town and major villages repelled.

On December 23rd, 2019, the Biu youths showed resilience again when Boko Haram attempted to attack the LGA HQ barely 24 hours after attacks on Damaturu - Yobe state capital. This resilience synergy exemplified over the years by HRH the Emir of Biu, his subjects and the Nigerian Armed Forces has been advanced as the key reason why Boko Haram did not succeed to instill the kind of terror experienced in the rest of Borno State.

In fact, it can be argued that Biu LGA has remained one of the most peaceful LGAs in Borno along with Hawul, Shani, Kwaya Kusar and Bayo LGA -- all located in Southern Borno with several common social features like trade, occupation, language and diversity.


The Emir of Biu has left a huge leadership shoes for his successor to fill. There is a likelihood of a significant change in the geopolitics of the emirate if his successor struggles to maintain the same leadership and people trust that prevented Boko Haram from penetrating the kingdom. Any disruptions of Biu will have a direct socio-economic impact on the Bura land with far reaching implications into Adamawa and Yobe state since the emirate connects both states via its road network.

However, if the successor maintains the relationship between the Biu community and the Nigerian Armed Forces, any potential transitional dysfunction from a leadership change will likely be absorbed. The fall of the Lion of Bui should not impact on the efficiently of the coordinated inter-agency intelligence network that has reflected on Biu as the mini ‘Home of Peace’ in Borno. This can only happen with the people’s trust and confidence passed onto a new leadership naturally. The Emir in transition will be remembered and greatly revered.

By David Otto

David Otto is the Director for Stepped In – Step Out UK Ltd and a Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert. He is a Certified Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CAS), a Certified Master Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CMAS) and a programme trainer with the Anti -Terrorism Accreditation Board (ATAB). Twitter @ottotgs Email:


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