Jonathan seeks US help to fight Boko Haram

Jonathan seeks US help to fight Boko Haram

Saturday, February 14, 2015 3:43 pm

* Nigerian leader tells Wall Street Journal eight weeks needed

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the United States for greater assistance in the fight against Boko Haram Islamists, according to the Wall Street Journal, revealing also that the offensive will last eight weeks.

•Jonathan: now speaks of eight weeks to deal with Boko Haram

•Jonathan: now speaks of eight weeks to deal with Boko Haram

“Are they not fighting ISIS? Why can’t they come to Nigeria?” Jonathan told the newspaper in an interview published Friday, referring to the Islamic State group.

“They are our friends. If Nigeria has a problem, then I expect the US to come and assist us.”

The president’s comment represents a 180 degrees stance, coming several months after the Nigerian government cancelled a US military training of Nigerian soldiers, then on its last lap.

Nigerian ambassador in the United States, Professor Ade Adefuye had before then criticised the country for not selling arms to Nigeria, to combat insurgency. But the US response was that its domestic laws prevented it from selling weapons to Nigeria because of the country’s abysmal human rights record.

According to the WSJ report, Jonathan disclosed that he had been pressing the U.S. since early 2014 to send combat soldiers along with military advisers to Nigeria to battle Boko Haram. Citing intelligence reports, he said the militants were receiving “training and funds” from Islamic State, the jihadist group whose leadership is based in Iraq and Syria, a claim the US disputes on grounds of distance between ISIS and Nigeria.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said there are no plans to unilaterally send U.S. troops to Nigeria. But he said the U.S. is discussing its participation in a multinational task force with African nations to assist Nigeria. The task force will be designed to help build up Nigeria’s own counterterrorism capabilities, he said.

“These discussions are really just now starting,” Adm. Kirby said. “I can tell you that there are no plans as I speak here…unilaterally to send or to add U.S. troops into Nigeria. There are no U.S. troops operating in Nigeria.”

The U.S. maintains a drone base in Chad, from which it conducts surveillance flights to monitor Boko Haram. It has provided training and some equipment to the Nigerian military. Some U.S. legislators have said they want Special Forces troops shipped to Nigeria to help combat Boko Haram.

The WSJ said Mr. Jonathan asserts that the human rights allegations are overblown.

Jonathan said the postponed elections for six weeks, will give the military time to make significant progress in clearing Boko Haram from the area where it exerts control.

Within eight weeks, he said, “we will be able to take over all the territories that they are holding,”he said introducing a twist to the time requested by the military chiefs.

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One Comment

  • Ogbonta says:

    PDP don start again, Jonathan said 6weeks previously to disloge BH. And now he is saying 8weeks, will there be any elections at all?

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