Nigeria - President Jonathan Defends Troop Deployment In North

Nigeria's president on Friday defended the heavy deployment of soldiers to the restive northeast on a rare trip to the region where radical Islamist group Boko Haram is based.
President Goodluck Jonathan visited the embattled city of Maiduguri, the epicentre of an Islamist insurgency that has left hundreds of people dead, for the first time since he was elected in 2011.

At a town hall-style event, he faced criticism from several local leaders about the large number and conduct of the soldiers deployed around the city.

Jonathan said he was "not comfortable" with the criticism, adding: "If the circumstances that brought the soldiers are no longer there, that day they will leave."

Human Rights Watch said in a report released last year Nigeria's security forces may have committed crimes against humanity during operations aimed at crushing the insurgency, including in Maiduguri.

The military has been accused of firing on unarmed civilians and razing neighbourhoods following suspected Islamist attacks, while Maiduguri residents also face roadblocks and rolling curfews in several areas.

"We always tell the soldiers to conduct themselves" professionally, Jonathan said.
He added that he would prefer to leave the job of internal security to the police, but has been compelled to deploy soldiers to certain areas "because of the calibre of weapons the militants are using."

"Government will never sit down and wait for insurgents... to take arms and take part of the country," Jonathan said.

Violence linked to Boko Haram's insurgency in northern and central Nigeria has left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

Jonathan, a Christian from the south, had faced growing calls to visit the northeast, with his two-day trip set to end Friday.

He visited the nearby city of Damaturu on Thursday, which has also seen scores of deadly attacks, where he rebuffed calls for an amnesty deal for the extremists.

Boko Haram has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in the predominately Muslim north of Africa's most populous country.

Politics 143222962026534219

Post a Comment Default Comments Disqus Comments


Home item

Popular Posts

Get Updates in your Inbox

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner