News / Africa

Nigerian Military Says Some Civilian Leaders Sponsoring Islamic Militants

Bystanders gather around a burned car outside the Victory Baptist Church in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Police are blaming members of Boko Haram for the attack on church (File photo - December 25, 2010)
Bystanders gather around a burned car outside the Victory Baptist Church in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Police are blaming members of Boko Haram for the attack on church (File photo - December 25, 2010)

Nigeria's military says civilian leaders who want troops to leave the embattled city of Maiduguri are sponsoring Islamic militants responsible for a series of attacks there. Those civilian leaders accuse soldiers of committing human rights abuses in their fight against the Muslim sect.

A group called the Committee of Borno Elders and Leaders of Thought says all federal troops should leave the city of  Maiduguri, located in the northeast Nigerian state of Borno,  because they are escalating the crisis there by engaging in human rights abuses.

A joint military task force took charge of Maiduguri nearly one month ago amidst a series of bombings and ambushes by Muslim fundamentalists who are fighting for an independent nation in northern Nigeria that would be ruled by Islamic law.

The joint task force commander of operations Colonel Victor Ebhaleme says civilian leaders accusing soldiers of looting and rape are “sponsors, sympathizers and members” of the Boko Haram sect “aimed at discrediting the task force so as to have a field day to operate.”

The task force says it is lamentable that some civilians are only being heard from now when they were silent while the sect was “killing and maiming at will” before soldiers arrived.

In response, the elders' group issued a written statement saying there is incontrovertible evidence that soldiers have engaged in “ungodly acts unbecoming of their role as those who are supposed to safeguard the lives, property, and dignity of Nigerians.”

If all troops are not withdrawn immediately, the elders say they must conclude that the federal government intends to destroy Maiduguri.

The local chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association echoed that call, saying nothing could be worse than “cases of genocide and extra-judicial killings” carried out by the military.

University of Abuja sociology professor Abubakar Umar Kari says Nigerian authorities have long believed that the best way to deal with insurgents is through force.

“Boko Haram has been able to thrive because of a long-entrenched culture of impunity in Nigeria," said Kari. "Government officials have always got away with all sorts of atrocities with little or nothing being done to them.”

President Goodluck Jonathan is under mounting pressure to restore security in the north. But Boko Haram has so far refused his offer to open talks.

The stalemate has led not only to divisions between military and civilian leaders in Borno but has also set off political infighting among those competing to influence President Jonathan.

Following talks with the president this week, a former military ruler of the federal capital territory accused Borno State politicians of creating Boko Haram.

Retired Lieutenant General Jeremiah Useni recalled a trip to Maiduguri with then-governor Ali Madu Sheriff where they passed legions of young men selling petroleum along the road.

“I said why do you allow them to sell petrol on a major street like this? And he said, 'No, no, no, no leave them. They are very useful during election," said Useni.

Useni says young men organized for political thuggery were the genesis of Boko Haram.

Following separate talks with President Jonathan, former governor Sheriff said Useni is mistaken about the origin of fundamentalism in northern Nigeria.

“The leader of the Boko Haram was arrested and was prosecuted in Abuja before I even think of going to become a governor in Borno state," said  Sheriff. "So people make comments on what they don't know.”

Boko Haram spokesman Abu Zaid says attacks against soldiers in Maiduguri will continue. In a written statement, he said remarks by military chiefs that Boko Haram are cowards for engaging in hit-and-run attacks is “an affront that will not be ignored.”

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs