Abuja - United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, Sunday condemned last week’s attacks by Boko Haram insurgents and pledged the commitment of his country to help Nigeria crack down on the militants which the US considers a terrorist organisation.
Kerry in a statement said: “Unspeakable violence and acts of terror like the ones committed by Boko Haram last week in northern Nigeria are horrific, wrong and have no place in our world.”
Meanwhile, the government has closed the northern border with Cameroon as an attempt to keep out the insurgents.
Boko Haram members killed about 100 people in Bama last Wednesday, storming the town, firing at a school, shooting or burning to death dozens of people and also trashing the palace of a traditional ruler of the town.
Also last Sunday, the group killed more than 100 people in the village of Igze, spraying homes with bullets, detonating explosives and burning down dozens of houses.
“We support Nigerian authorities’ efforts to investigate these cowardly acts and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Kerry added.
According to him, Boko Haram and other splinter terrorist groups are seen as the biggest security threat in Nigeria.
“The people of northern Nigeria deserve to live free from violence and terror,” Kerry said, adding: “That’s why the US is providing counterterrorism assistance to help Nigerian authorities develop a comprehensive approach to combat the threat posed by the Boko Haram sect while protecting civilians and ensuring respect for human rights.”
Kerry said the U S remains “a committed partner” of the government as it targets Boko Haram and associated groups.
The US, November last year, designated Boko Haram and Ansaru as foreign terrorist organisations, making it a crime to provide them with material support.
The White House also directed US agencies to block financial transactions with the two groups, which it blamed for thousands of deaths in North-east and central Nigeria, including attacks on churches and mosques and the 2011 suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja.
The militants have retreated into the remote, hilly Gwoza area bordering Cameroon, from where they mount deadly attacks against helpless civilians which they accuse of being pro-government, and are abducting scores of girls - a new tactic eerily reminiscent of Uganda’s cult-like Lord’s Resistance Army in decades past.
In the meantime, the Chairman of the Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has repeated the forum’s call on the federal government to deploy more security personnel with superior military equipment as well as adopt measures to boost their morale to enable them effectively fight the insurgents and other threats to security in the region.
Aliyu, who reiterated the forum’s demand yesterday in Minna, while reacting to the killing of 29 persons on Saturday by unknown gunmen in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, urged the military to review its counter-insurgency strategy.
“While we (Northern Governors) agreed in our last meeting in Kaduna to deal decisively with the fast growing security challenges being posed by the activities of cattle rearers, we call on the federal government to consider a national policy to settle nomads and provide adequate grazing reserves and cattle routes,” Aliyu said in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Danladi Ndayebo.
The forum also reiterated its appeal to the federal government to “provide adequate funds to Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States afflicted with the problem of insurgency in order to address attendant issues.”
It hailed the military for restricting trans-border movements between Nigeria and Cameroun, urging security agencies to do all within their powers to halt the killing of innocent lives in the region.
The Northern governors had at the end of their meeting in Kaduna recently agreed to adopt a common approach towards combating insecurity in the region.
In the communiqué, the forum agreed to down play political differences and work towards a common goal of a united, peaceful and a prosperous North.
The governors also agreed to vigorously pursue employment and youth empowerment programmes as a way of taking idle youths off the streets.
And in a bid to sustain the attack against the sect, a US-based investment promoter, Mrs. Linda Middleton, yesterday in Abuja urged the federal government not to ignore retired military officers, ex-servicemen and other security personnel, who were helping in the fight against terrorism in the country.
Middleton stated this in an interview with journalists at the Victorious Army Ministries, Gwarinpa, Abuja during a one-year remembrance and thanksgiving service in memory of her husband, late Harold Middleton, a First Class Sergeant of the United States Army, who served in Nigeria in the training of Nigeria Military Personnel in Jaji, Kaduna State and many other military stations.
Middleton fought in the Vietnam war but was later transferred to Nigeria but had kidney disease and ‘double bypass.’
“He was treated well but because of the kidney failure, it damaged a lot of things in his body system. He also had vascular infection which is the poor circulation of blood. The wonderful thing about him is his coming to Africa from the US, he was able to embrace the Nigerian culture, he loved the food and he had fun in Jaji and Bauchi”, the widow maintained.
She further explained the need for government to intervene in providing succour to retired officers, stating that: “I am an investment promoter in Nigeria; those that put their lives in danger to serve the country, be it the military or the police, should be well taken care of when they die in line of duty or when they retire. They have to be taken care of because they have served their country. It is important for us to honour those who protected us from all angles.”
“For serving and wearing the uniform, they should be able to take care of you and your family. Good schools and medical treatment for your family. Over there (the US), they have monthly allowance for the family too”
Earlier, the pastor of the Church, Dike Sunday told journalists that, “Nigerian Army are taking care of their own and I am saying it because there has never been strike or complaint that they are not taken care of. I believe they will do more through the transformation agenda.”