Boko Haram: Newspaper Bombed to Hit Back at Critics

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) and
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) and "ThisDay" newspaper owner Nduka Obaigbena (L) visit the site of an April 26 suicide attack which struck the newspaper's offices, in Abuja, on April 28, 2012.
Heather Murdock

In the wake of Thursday's bombings of newspaper offices in Nigeria that killed at least nine people and injured many others, President Goodluck Jonathan assured Nigerians on Saturday that the government is on high alert.  The Boko Haram Islamist sect says it carried out the attack to retaliate against news media for reporting false statements about the group's activities and goals.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited the bombed-out Abuja offices of This Day, a prominent Nigerian newspaper, telling reporters that the bombings in the capital and in the northern city of Kaduna were attacks on the "whole world."

The militant Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has taken responsibility for the bombings.  Boko Haram told the Nigerian news organization the Premium Times that the group has been misrepresented by news outlets across Nigeria, and that is why the attacks were launched.

Boko Haram says the media has blamed it for kidnappings for which they claimed no responsibility and that English translators wildly misquoted their most recent video.  The spokesperson, who identified himself as Abul Qaqa, also blamed the media for reporting that he had been captured, when, in fact, he remains at his post.   

President Jonathan is urging the Nigerian people to stand together, despite their long history of sectarian and religious divisions.

"We all, as Nigerians, no matter what we do and where we come from, must join hands in fighting this terror.  And I can assure you that we'll get over it," Jonathan said.  

Jonathan added the country is pouring every possible resource into fighting Boko Haram, which has been blamed for hundreds of deaths this year alone.  Human Rights Watch says the group has killed more than 1,000 people since it began violent operations in 2009.

Last month, Nigerian government talks with Boko Haram collapsed over what the group called a government leak to the media.  President Jonathan on Saturday did not rule out further attempts to negotiate with the group.

"You may dialogue [or] you may not dialogue, depending on the circumstances.  But we will exploit our every means possible to bring this to an end," Jonathan added.

Jonathan deflected questions about Nigeria's national security adviser, who has suggested that ruling-party policies might be one of the reasons for the rise of Boko Haram.  The president said he does not believe that General Andrew Owoye Azazi meant to call his party "anti-democratic."  

Many Abuja residents say they are tired of hearing that the government is doing everything possible.

Ken Ibe owns a clothing store near the site of Thursday's attack.  He says the government should do more.

"They say they are trying their best, but they are not doing the enough," said Ibe.  "When all this happens, we the citizens are the one who are suffer then, while they themselves sit in their government chairs."

Ibe says the president's security detail brought business to a standstill in the neighborhood when Jonathan visited the site of the attack.  Ibe complains that government officials think that because they do not work on Saturdays, everyone else has the weekend off.

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