Accessibility links

Breaking News

Borno Governor: Boko Haram's Small Number's Have Big Impact

FILE - Two men walk amidst rubble after Boko Haram militants raided Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maidugur, Nigeria, Sep.19, 2013.
Kashim Shettima, state governor of Borno, the Nigerian region considered the base for Boko Haram militants, says the group's small numbers belie its enormously destructive impact.

"Just a band of terrorists — 50, 100 — can really hold a whole community to ransom because ... they are indigenous to that land [and] they are the ones setting the pace of the war," he said in an interview with VOA's Hausa Service.

While the radical militants comprise only a "miniscule" portion of Borne's estimated six million people, they've continued to commit atrocities nationwide, notably kidnapping 276 schoolgirls in Chibok last month after terrorizing the West African nation with thousands of killings over the last five years.

The group, which is believed to be behind twin bombings in Jos this week that killed at least 130 people, says it wants to establish a strict Islamist state in the country's north, and Shettima says the group's association with the region has put Borno state in the news-media spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

"It is an insult to the integrity, to the history of people of Borno for a group within our communities that is opposed to everything modern," he said, describing the Islamist militant group's self-proclaimed leader, Abubaker Shekau, as the "chief priest of raving lunatics."

"I see him as a madman," he said." I don't take him as somebody with any mental sanity."

In recent weeks, Boko Haram has stepped up the frequency and intensity of its attacks. Earlier this week, Nigerian lawmakers extended a year-old state of emergency in the northeast, where the group has been most active.

The Nigerian government has deployed thousands of troops to the area to combat the group, so far with little success.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is heading to South Africa, where he and other African leaders are to discuss ways to combat terrorism and militancy across the continent.