Nigerian envoy opposes Boko Haram's US 'terrorist' tag

The Nigerian ambassador to the U.S. has slammed the decision to name Boko Haram a terrorist group.

Nigerian envoy opposes Boko Haram's US 'terrorist' tag

World Bulletin / News Desk

Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. Ade Adefuye has said his government opposed Washington's designation of Boko Haram as a "terrorist organization," fearing a possible backlash on law-abiding Nigerians abroad.

"We had resisted pressures from many organizations who wanted Boko Haram designated a terrorist organization," Adefuye told Anadolu Agency on Thursday by phone.

"Our reasons are that such a step would send wrong signals to the outside world," he added.

On Wednesday, the U.S. officially designated Nigeria's Boko Haram and the Ansaru splinter group - known for kidnapping and bank robberies - as "foreign terrorist organizations" and "specially designated global terrorists."

"Nigeria is safe and capable of curtailing the group," Adefuye insisted.

"If we could end a better organized insurgency in the Niger Delta, we can handle this, too, with the assistance of our foreign partners," he said.

Boko Haram, a hitherto peaceful organization that had preached against corruption, suddenly turned violent following the 2009 murder of leader Mohammed Yusuf while in police custody.

In the years since, the group has been blamed for thousands of deaths and attacks on churches and security posts across Nigeria's northern region, especially the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

Boko Haram and Ansaru have long been proscribed by the Nigerian government, with anyone who assists their cause risking a 20-year jail term under Nigeria's Anti-Terrorism Act.

BACKLASH

Adefuye, a scholar of diplomacy, fears the possible consequences of the U.S. move on the country and on millions of its innocent citizens both at home and abroad.

He said that while the US decision might curb the activities of the two groups in question, it could also create problems for blameless Nigerian travellers.

"We feared that Nigerians might be subjected to some unpalatable experiences, such as horrendous searches at US entry points, and we don't want that," Adefuye said. "Nigerians are law-abiding people."

Nearly 300,000 Nigerians are believed to be permanent residents in the U.S.

The U.S. is believed to be the second concentration of Nigerians after Nigeria itself.

Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2013, 11:13
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