Jonathan lands in Maiduguri, Boko Haram heartland

Jonathan lands in Maiduguri, Boko Haram heartland

Thursday, January 15, 2015 6:24 pm

*275 days after Chiboks schoolgirls abducted
*after 10 local councils seized by Boko Haram
*30 days to 14 February presidential election

File Photo: March 2013: President Goodluck Jonathan (r) being received by Gov. Kashim Shetima during the President's official visit to  Borno and Yobe states in Maiduguri on Thursday, 7 March, 2013

File Photo: March 2013: President Goodluck Jonathan (r) being received by Gov. Kashim Shetima during the President’s official visit to Borno and Yobe states in Maiduguri on Thursday, 7 March, 2013

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday made a surprise visit to the troubled northeast, which is in the grip of escalating Boko Haram violence that threatens next month’s election.

An AFP reporter in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, said the president arrived in the city shortly before 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) and was met at the airport by the state governor Kashim Shettima.

He was accompanied by the chief of defence staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, military top brass and the national security advisor as well as about 200 soldiers.

The visit — Jonathan’s first to Maiduguri since March 2013 — was shrouded in secrecy and came after a previous trip to the restive region in May last year was cancelled.

Jonathan had planned to visit the remote town of Chibok, also in Borno, after Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 girls from their school in a crime that shocked the world.

The cancellation, reportedly for security reasons, dealt Jonathan a further blow in his perceived woeful handling of the kidnapping crisis.

Boko Haram was founded in Maiduguri in 2002 and was largely peaceful until a police and military crackdown against its then-leader Mohammed Yusuf and his followers in 2009.

some of the girls abducted in Chibok on 14 April: Boko haram says they are now married off

some of the girls abducted in Chibok on 14 April: Boko haram says they are now married off

Jonathan’s last visit came before a state of emergency was declared in Borno and neighbouring Yobe and Adamawa states in May 2013.

The special measures initially saw the Islamists forced from urban centres but violence has steadily increased, particularly in the last six months, and led to towns and villages overrun.

On January 3, Boko Haram attacked the Borno town of Baga, killing hundreds, if not more, in what is feared could be its worst atrocity in a six-year campaign to create a separate Islamic state.

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  • George Kafantaris says:

    We are dealing with savages of the worse kind. Only boots on the ground will eradicate them. No mercy and no looking back.

  • Mohammad Said says:

    I have always felt that those Islamic groups which are labeled by the United States and some Muslim countries as terrorists or extremists, such as Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab etc., will be defeated if we use not only the military aspect, by also attack their ideology. Does the United States truly want to eliminate this extremism, the same as some Muslim countries, particularly Saudi Arabia? My answer is no. Let me explain. When I was campaigning for Candidate Obama in his first term in 2008 in Texas, and later on in the Battleground states, I discussed with some of his campaign personnel that Candidate Obama’s name and background would be very positive to get the Muslim countries on board for business and try to contain extreme ideology and violence against the United States. I suggested to President Obama in a letter to the White House (found on my website) to appoint a special envoy to the Muslim world, particularly to meet and have dialogs with the religious leaders that violence is contrary to the Islamic tenets, leading nowhere and will backfire. I thought I would be that person, being a physician, a Sunni Muslim, and founder, or one of the founders, of several Muslim organizations in Europe and the United States, such as Islamic Medical Association, Muslim Students Organization in Europe, Islamic Center in Granada, Spain (the first one established in 500 years). I also met with many well-known Muslim scholars from different countries, such as India, Pakistan, and the Arab world. I met with late King Faisal, who was an advocate for Muslim cooperation, and Mohammed Surur Al-Saban, the founder of the Muslim League. Apparently, the White House accepted my recommendation and appointed 32 year old Rashad Hussain, originally from India,an attorney from Houston, who had no experience in religious matters. He does not speak Arabic and is from the Shiite minority, who would not be successful with the Sunni majority of over 90 percent. This means that President Obama’s advisors recommended everything opposite of my advice, as if they did not want to have good relations between the United States and the Muslim world. I believe it was for political reasons, as they wanted to continue this tension and prove that the only true friend of the United States is Israel. If Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf states wanted to contain those extremists, why did they finance a military coup in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood, who are very well known to be moderate and supported by Saudi Arabia during the time when late King Faisal was alive in the late 50’s through the 70’s of last century? In order to contain this extreme criminal group Boko Haram at the present time, my suggestion is to form an army, without any involvement by the United States or the Western world. The army has to be only from Muslim countries, and I suggest not including those countries who are dictatorships and oppressing their Islamic moderate groups, such as Egypt, Iraq, Iran, etc. I suggest the army to be formed from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Bangladesh, as an example. Most important, it has to include very well-known international Muslim scholars (Ulema) from different countries to prove to those extremists Boko Haram that it is a Muslim army, stipulated by Qur’anic teaching. Those oil rich Gulf states have to finance this expedition completely.

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