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Nigeria Opposition Urges Government to Bolster Security

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Members of the military stand at the scene of an explosion near a gas station in Kano, Nigeria, Nov. 15, 2014.

FILE - Members of the military stand at the scene of an explosion near a gas station in Kano, Nigeria, Nov. 15, 2014.

The spokesman for Nigeria’s main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) says the government has failed to implement effective measures to protect civilians.

Spokesman Lai Mohammed’s comment came after suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 100 women and children and killed 35 other people Sunday during a raid on Gumsuri village in northern Nigeria. The APC condemned the attack.

“We condemn the Boko Haram insurgents and their activities and there is no justification for it and we have said it several times that we will not tolerate terrorism,” he said.

Mohammed said the government has refused repeated calls by the APC to negotiate with Boko Haram to bring an end to the security threat.

“We have suggested approaches to this government. We’ve told [the] government that it’s nearly impossible in all cases of terrorism to use just the military option. [A] military option alone cannot solve the problem,” said Mohammed. “You must be sincere about dialogue. You must talk to them; without talking to them you don’t even know their mindset.”

Several government officials have rejected the accusations in the wake of the latest attack. They point out that terrorism is a global phenomenon that can only be defeated through international cooperation.

The officials also say Nigerian security agencies have been on the front lines battling Boko Haram to put an end to the violence. They say the government is determined to win the war on terrorism.

Some military experts have expressed concern about low morale in the military, which they argue is hampering efforts to combat the militants.

Opposition spokesman Mohammed blames the government for the low morale. He said some officers have complained about having insufficient ammunition for the fight against Boko Haram.

“We have said before that if you do not equip your army adequately, if you do not motivate your army adequately, if you don’t give enough encouragement and support for your army, you can’t expect them to lay their lives down just to be slaughtered,” said Mohammed.

“It’s clear from some reports we’ve had and some confessions of some soldiers that all is not well within the military, that they don’t have the wherewithal to fight the terrorists,” he said.

Mohammed expressed confidence in the ability of the APC and its presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari to end the violence and insecurity if elected in the February general election.

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