News / Africa

Nigerian President Declares Emergency in 3 States

A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, May 13, 2013.
A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria, May 13, 2013.
Heather Murdock
After an upsurge of violence in Nigeria’s north, President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three states and ordered the immediate deployment of more troops to the region.  
 
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, northern states that have been hard hit by the more than three-year-old Boko Haram insurgency.
 
Speaking on Nigerian television, Jonathan said parts of the north have been taken over by Boko Haram, a militant group that says it wants to establish Islamic law and has also demanded its imprisoned members be freed.
 
“What we are facing is not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion, an insurgency by terrorists groups who pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity," he said. 
 
Jonathan said attacks have amounted to a “declaration of war” against Nigeria and ordered the military to deploy more troops to stop the insurgency using “all necessary actions.”
 
Extraordinary measures, he said, include authorizing soldiers to seize any building or area they believe to be associated with militants.  The military will also conduct searches and arrest people found with illegal weapons.
 
In 2012, Jonathan imposed emergency rule on many parts of the north for six months.  In recent weeks, the president established a committee to re-explore the possibility of negotiations with Boko Haram.  
 
In his Tuesday speech, he did not emphasize peace talks.
 
“Where ever they will go, we will hunt them down.  We will fish them out.  And we will bring them to justice.  No matter what it takes we will win this war against terror," he said. 
 
Jonathan also called on neighboring countries to help prevent militants from fleeing Nigeria’s porous borders.  
 
Earlier this week, Boko Haram released a video claiming responsibility for recent attacks in the towns of Baga and Bama.
 
The Bamas attack on a police station, a prison and an army barracks left 55 people dead and 100 prisoners were freed.  More than 200 people were killed in Baga last month after a Boko Haram attacked security forces.  
 
Boko Haram, and many analysts and locals, say most of the deaths in Baga were a result of the security forces reaction to the Boko Haram attack.  They claim after a soldier was killed by Boko Haram, security forces burnt thousands of homes and killed civilians.   
 
Human Rights Watch says 3,600 people have been killed in Boko Haram-related violence, including hundreds killed by security forces.  It says thousands more have been arrested and many people continue to be held without charges in deplorable conditions.

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Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

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