World Bulletin / News Desk
Support has waned for Nigeria's military approach to the festering Boko Haram insurgency, the country's 36 state governors pointedly told the central government Friday night, adding that counterinsurgency tactics were "definitely not working."
It was the strongest criticism yet to President Goodluck Jonathan's handling of the situation in the country's northeastern Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, where Boko Haram militants have killed up to a hundred people in recent days.
"The current approach is definitely not working and it's important that all of us are humble… enough to accept this reality and work out a stronger and more workable strategy," Rotimi Amaechi, chairman of the powerful – but factionalized – Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF), said in a statement.
The statement came hours after Adamawa Governor Murtala Nyako's entourage was attacked by gunmen believed to be Boko Haram fighters in Adamawa's Shuwa village, and days after insurgents murdered 29 college students in Yobe.
"Citizens need to help our security agencies with accurate and timely information. But the government itself needs to engage new allies, wherever they may be in the world," Amaechi stated.
He called on the Jonathan administration to remain focused and provide leadership in the fight against Boko Haram – a comment likely to rankle with the presidency, which could see it as an attempt by governors to absolve themselves of responsibility for the violence.
Amaechi is also the governor of Rivers, an oil-rich state in which Jonathan's rumored reelection bid has faced tough opposition. Amaechi, along with four other governors, left Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) for the opposition All Progressives Congress last December.
Amaechi said the governors were alarmed by the recent murder of the students and other defenseless civilians in the region.
"We in the Governors Forum hereby condemn the recent spate of killings in some parts of our country – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states – by the Boko Haram sect," he added.
"We are alarmed at the killing of 29 pupils at the Federal Government College in Yobe and the unprovoked attacks against the defenseless people of those states," Amaechi asserted.
Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati could not be reached for comment on the NGF statement, which could draw a rebuttal in coming days from the faction of the NGF loyal to the president. That faction is led by Plateau Governor Jonah Jang, a retired army general who also lays claim to the NGF chairmanship.
The once powerful body became factionalized last year after a disputed election to elect a new leader.
While Amaechi, who sought a second term, garnered 18 votes in an election attended by only 34 of the governors, Jang garnered only 16 – but was nevertheless recognized by the Jonathan administration and PDP powerbrokers as the new NGF chairman.
13 Boko Haram militants killed
The army said Friday that its troops had killed up to 13 Boko Harm militants in raids on the group's "entry and escape points" near Nigeria's borders with Cameroon.
In an email to media on Friday evening, army spokesman Chris Olukolade said the raids – which targeted "the terrorists' makeshift camps between Borno and Adamawa" – had ended with the arrest of several "fleeing" militants.
He did not, however, mention the number of militants arrested.
He also said troops had been deployed to "block the entry and exit points used by terrorists to enter the country."
According to Olukolade, normalcy has returned to the village of Shuwa in the Madagali local government area, where an attack on Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako was reported earlier Friday.
The past four days have reportedly seen several Boko Haram attacks across the northeastern Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Up to 100 people have been killed in recent days as militants stepped up attacks in the Nigerian hinterlands.
Boko Haram, a hitherto peaceful organization that had preached against corruption, suddenly turned violent in 2009 following the murder of group leader Mohamed Yusuf while in police custody.
In the years since, the group has been blamed for thousands of terrorist acts, including attacks on churches and security posts across Nigeria's northern region.
Although it claims to want an Islamist government in the region, Nigerian Muslims – most of whom reject Boko Haram as un-Islamic – have also been targeted by the militant group.
On Friday, the government announced that it remained in "a state of war" with the Boko Haram insurgency, which presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe said appeared to enjoy foreign support.Last Mod: 01 Mart 2014, 09:59