Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists have support in gov’t, President Jonathan says

By Reuters Staff
January 9, 2012

(A member of the clergy guides security forces through the scene of a car bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 25, 2011. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said the violent Islamist sect Boko Haram has supporters within his own government, and the insecurity the group has created is worse than during the 1960s civil war that killed more than a million people. Jonathan suggested that Boko Haram – which has been blamed for gun and bomb attacks across the country, most recently targeting Christians – had sympathisers at all levels of the government.

“Some of them are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary,” he said at a church service in the capital Abuja late on Sunday. “Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies. Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won’t even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house,” he said.

Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeast and two other regions of Nigeria on December 31, trying to contain a growing insurgency by the group, which says it wants to apply Islamic sharia law across the country. It claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church near Abuja that killed at least 37 people and wounded 57.  Read the full story here.

Hundreds of Christians have begun to flee northern Nigeria after dozens were killed in a series of attacks by Islamist militants who issued an ultimatum to Christians to leave the mainly Muslim region or be killed, witnesses said on Saturday. A Nigerian newspaper Tuesday published a warning from Boko Haram, a movement styled on the Taliban, that Christians had three days to get out of northern Nigeria. Since the expiry of that ultimatum, attacks in towns in four states in northeastern Nigeria have left at least 37 people dead and hundreds of Christians are fleeing to the south, according to residents and a Red Cross official. Read the full story here.

What is Boko Haram? Read our factbox here.

See also an interview with Cardinal Anthony Olobunmi Okogie, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lagos:  “We will not run away, this is our homeland.”


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