Growing calls for arming Nigerians against Boko Haram

Calls on the government to arm civilian vigilantes who many say have proven effective in combating Boko Haram intensify

Growing calls for arming Nigerians against Boko Haram

Nigerians are increasingly being urged to consider arming themselves to confront rampaging Boko Haram militants in the northeast amid criticism for security agencies over failure to rein in the insurgents.

"You know, sometimes self-defense is the only option," Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and a presidential aspirant under the platform of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), told reporters on Monday.

"I mean if somebody else cannot defend you, you have to defend yourself," he said.

Abubakar said he was "extremely frustrated" with the government because the Boko Haram insurgency has lasted for more than five years.

"Nigeria has all it takes to have eradicated it in a couple of weeks, but we allowed it to fester," he suggested.

In recent months, Boko Haram has captured numerous towns and villages in Nigeria's northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Abubakar's remarks came only one day after a similar call by one of the country's most prominent Muslim leaders.

"People must not wait for soldiers to protect them," said emir of Nigeria's northwest Kano city Muhammadu Sanusi II.

"There are even instances where soldiers on ground ran away in the face of attack," he added.

Sanusi said people must stand resolutely in the face of attack and not abandon their towns, women and children, insisting that the militants are sparing nobody irrespective of backgrounds.

"These people (Boko Haram) when they attack towns, they kill boys and enslave girls," noted the Muslim leader.

"People must stand resolute," he insisted.

"People must not assume that the crisis will not reach their area," said Sanusi.

"If it comes, we are asking God to give us fortitude, but if He wishes to take martyrs from amongst us, we should be ready to give our lives," he added.

The calls by the two leaders gave vent to continuing calls on the government to arm civilian vigilantes who many say have proven effective in combating Boko Haram.

They also followed recent victories vigilantes and local hunters have recorded against militants, especially in Borno and Adamawa, where the former killed several militants and dislodged them from areas earlier captured from government troops.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in Nigeria's local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.

The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.

In the five years since, the militant group has been blamed for numerous attacks on places of worship and government institutions, along with thousands of deaths.

Along with Nigeria, Turkey and the U.S. have both designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

AA

Last Mod: 18 Kasım 2014, 12:10
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