News / Africa

    Nigeria's President: Boko Haram Trained with Islamic State

    FILE - Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.
    FILE - Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says fighters from insurgent group Boko Haram have traveled to the Middle East for training with Islamic State militants.

    Jonathan declined to name the countries where the fighters were allegedly trained. But in an interview with VOA Wednesday, he said he’s long suspected Boko Haram of having alliances with international extremist groups.

    "So we know the links are there. But even now, we may not know the degree of linkages as to how much funds are coming in from them, the kind of volume of weapons coming in from them, the nationalities coming from them,” Jonathan said. “But the training, because some of the Boko Haram members go to have their training in the ISIS camp and come back.”

    Nigeria's President: Boko Haram Trained with Islamic Statei
    March 11, 2015 7:29 PM
    In an interview with VOA, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says fighters from insurgent group Boko Haram have traveled to the Middle East for training with Islamic State militants.

    Brutal tactics

    Nigeria has battled Boko Haram since 2009, primarily in the northeast. Thousands of people have been killed, injured and displaced in the fight. The group's tactics have included suicide bombings and razing entire villages. Almost a year ago, its fighters raided a girl’s school in the town of Chibok and kidnapped more than 200 students who remain missing.

    Jonathan is running for re-election on March 28 in what is expected to be the most competitive vote since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. Election officials postponed the vote from its original date in mid-February because the military said it couldn’t provide enough troops to guard the polls.

    Since then, Nigerian soldiers along with troops from neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger have pushed Boko Haram out of many towns and villages they occupied in the country’s northeast.

    In the interview, Jonathan credited both the intervention of Nigeria's neighbors as well as the acquisition of new weapons for turning the tide against the militants.

    Response to criticism

    He hit back at criticisms that foreign troops aren't being allowed to push into Boko Haram strongholds deep in Nigerian territory. He said Cameroon previously denied Nigeria permission to pursue Boko Haram into its territory, and added that restrictions on foreign troops were matters of coordination.

    “I think the idea is that -- look, for any major aggression, we should know. Where possible, let some Nigerian soldiers also be with you,” the president said.

    He also said that foreign technicians are present in the northeast to teach Nigerian troops on how to use their new weapons, since there wasn’t time to train the troops before they deployed.

    “So we now have this technical people who are trainers and technicians, who are to train our people on how to use them, and technicians that help the maintenance, at the same time training our people how to maintain this equipment,” Jonathan said.

    He said two unnamed companies were involved in the training but declined to offer nationalities or numbers of the trainers.

    Jonathan dismissed the suggestion that Boko Haram’s insurgency has come to define his time in office.

    “Yes, it’s a major security issue, it’s the number one security issue we have as a nation. But definitely you cannot define us by Boko Haram," he said.

    As the multinational offensive continues, Jonathan predicted that the northeastern states of Yobe and Adamawa would be cleared of Boko Haram territory before the middle of next week. He said he hopes neighboring Borno State, where the group started, will be cleared in the next three weeks.

    But Jonathan said he expects Boko Haram to continue bombing markets and bus stops. He says the government’s strategy is to improve intelligence gathering as well as job and educational prospects in the northeast as a long-term strategy to destroy the group.

    Buhari praises troops

    His main opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, told VOA last week he is not surprised that Nigerian soldiers have started to push Boko Haram out of areas the militants had captured.

    Buhari said that in the past the soldiers weren’t properly armed and weren’t properly motivated to fight. The joint operations with Chad, Niger and Cameroon forced the government to get more sophisticated weapons to the troops, Buhari said.

    He also paid tribute to Nigerian soldiers, who, he said, have been known for gallantry in past international peacekeeping operations all over the world and promised them a better deal if he takes over the presidency.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
    by: Olive from: Kaduna
    March 16, 2015 9:15 AM
    Buhari has been promising some countries to upturn anti-gay law in Nigeria if elected. Because Jonathan signed the law even the foreign media have ganged up against him.

    VOA you better publish my comment, if not I will see you one of those unprofessional and untolerating media.

    by: Isa from: Lagos
    March 16, 2015 9:11 AM
    GEJ is not clueless. He is just suffering from some political cliques who are bent on snatching power from him.
    One thin I admire in GEJ is that he has been able to destroy "godfatherism". After his second tenure, even a common man can be elected without godfather. But if Buhari wins (may God forbid) Nigeria will be the private property of some few people like Tinubu, Amaechi, Tambuwal, Atiku and co.

    The first two years GEJ ruled (immediatly after the death of Yaradua) was one of the best years ever for Nigeria. It was so because he was not disturbed, there was no political gangsterism and sabotage against him. But after 2011 election his problem started. Buhari and his cohorts are nowhere good enough to rule Nigeria. May God forbid, if Buhari takes over, most of you clamoring for Buahri now will cry the most later. But the truth is, Nigerians see beyond propaganda within and withal.

    Jonathan all the way!

    by: Tola from: Nigeia
    March 16, 2015 8:12 AM
    The most important aspect of this fight is to ensure continuity in the fight against BOKO Haram. Kudos to the gallant soldiers.

    by: SB GIDADO from: Abuja
    March 15, 2015 12:10 PM
    Dear Mr President
    We might agree with your saying that some of the BH travel for training elsewhere in the world, but in your capacity as Nigeria's President, what effort is your Goverment doing to break the chain with the outside world of terrorist and Boko Haram?

    by: joe from: Aba
    March 14, 2015 5:12 AM
    He didn't give us hope on when d Market and Park Bombings will stop. He knows they've travelled to meet ISIS for training, so they're coming back more dreaded. The intelligence that saw them leave couldn't stop or arrest them. Still have 3more weeks to drive them out, and election is in 2weeks. Would he still postpone the elections. So many signs of cluelessness

    by: Daniels from: Lagos
    March 14, 2015 4:12 AM
    So it took years for Mr President to procure the necessary weapons to fight insurgents or are the weapons just invented and designed? What happened to the annual military budget, yet he went ahead to BORROW $1billion from God knows where?
    Where is the stable power supply he promised before the end of his tenure, which has barely 3months to expiration?
    When will Nigerian educational certificates be respected and accepted world over? goes beyond establishing glorified universities to me! Our education is dead!!
    What is there to show for in the health sector?...our top government officials do not even have the guts to stay behind in Nigeria to receive the simplest of health care.
    He has distinction in accommodating CORRUPTION!!!
    On and on it goes!
    Bottom line; his government is yet to be felt by the average Nigerian.

    by: Shola tunde from: Lagos
    March 13, 2015 9:21 PM
    The gang up against the president by the North can never stand, we will support and stand by him till the end.

    by: Adams John from: Lagos
    March 13, 2015 2:44 PM
    Buhari is the Man that can take Nigeria to the promise land now.

    by: Gbenga from: Lagos Nigeria
    March 12, 2015 5:12 PM
    jonathan is not fit to be president.he totality lacks all it takes to be in that position.Phd my foot knowing very well that even in some Nigerian University you can buy your thing i dont like about this man is that he as politicize very thing,he has divided nigeria across religion lines and make this election looks like is a christain and muslim election,that not true.i am a christain but will never vote jonathan is too weak were was he all this years when boko haram were busy destroying lives and property and raping and kidnapping people then some days to the election boko haram are not on the run and he want to claim that as victory,i laugh it only make me want to vote him out fast.

    by: john from: Burkina-Faso
    March 12, 2015 4:16 PM
    What masses need in Nigeria is 6 basic which is
    1 light, 2 water, 3 good health care, 4 good education, 5 infrastructure, 6 security, if 6 years is not enough for any government to provide this 6 basic for is people that means is a failure government ,

    Nigeria problem is not a tribal or religion problem, the problem we have is our leaders has not honest, they are shellfish, non of them did not lack of all this 6 basic that is why they did not know that masses are suffering,

    To rule a country is Ideal its not by the qualification, if I deal is not there things will not work out, Nigeria is a country where the 60 million youth are unemployed, please tell me what is the future for all this youth tomorrow, that is why 419 and prostitute are increase in Nigeria, and our government did not see it as a great problem because they and their family did not lack of anything,

    Nigeria need changes
    Comments page of 3

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