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Jonathan says "turning tide" against extremists

01 October 2014, 11:55

Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan said the army was turning the tide against Boko Haramand he trumpeted his government's achievements in what sounded like a bid for re-election just months before a presidential poll.

The February 14 vote looks set to be Nigeria's least one-sided since the end of military rule in 1999.

Jonathan has yet to formally declare his intention to run for a second term, but he has been endorsed as sole candidate by the board of his ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

In a speech to mark Independence Day, he praised the armed forces in their fight against a 5-year-old insurgency.

Also Read: UK warns locals against potential threats of terror
"Our security forces continue to engage the terrorists in battle," Jonathan said in a broadcast on state TV to mark 54 years of independence from Britain.

"Driven by patriotic zeal, they are turning the tide ... inflicting devastating blows at the heart of terror," he said.

The overstretched military has been repeatedly routed by the insurgents fighting for an Islamic state in the religiously mixed country, and some soldiers have been court martialled and sentenced to death for desertion.

The army has come under heavy criticism for failing to protect civilians from the rebels, epitomised by the kidnapping more than 200 girls from an unguarded secondary school in April.

But security sources say Nigerian forces backed by fighter jets have inflicted heavy losses on Boko Haram in the past few weeks, as the insurgents sought to hold on to territory they seized in the northeast of Africa's top oil producer.

Last week the military said more than 130 Boko Haram Islamist fighters had surrendered to Nigerian forces, and a man posing as the group's dead leader Abubakar Shekau in numerous videos had been killed.

Buhari said Nigeria was "saddled with Nigeria with ... a perilous security situation, extensive and almost unmanageable corruption and ... pervasive lawlessness".

- Reuters


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