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Sunday, 28 April 2013

US, UN displeased with terrorism and corruptin in Nigeria

The US and United Nations have not been pleased with the increasing terrorism and corruption in Nigeria. The latest of which is the Baga killings that happened days ago of which they want the culprits of the incident to be brought to justice. The Nigerian Foreign Minister visited the US last week and had meetings with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, on Thursday at the US capital, and with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on Friday in New York. Check out what the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper says

"TOP officials of the United States government and the United Nations got a chance to express dissatisfaction over the increasing violence and terrorism in Nigeria, as the state of the nation became the major agenda in both New York and Washington DC, where Foreign Minister, Gbenga Ashiru, has been visiting until weekend.
Informed sources and official statements issued after both meetings between Ashiru and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, on Thursday at the US capital, and with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on Friday in New York, revealed that the Nigerian Minister had to explain the Federal government’s handling of not only the Boko Haram and insecurity issues, but also the dwindling anti-corruption efforts, reform questions in the oil sector and other areas of international concern.
This comes as sources in the presidency hinted that the Federal Government will soon start fencing the Nigeria-Chad border, in the Northeast, to prevent unwanted persons, including Islamic militants milling around the region, from gaining easy access into the country.
The move follows fresh concerns regarding the international dimensions of the criminality in North-eastern Nigeria, especially the Baga carnage, which according to Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan, representing Borno North Senatorial District, claimed 228 lives and 2,0000 houses.
At both meetings in Washington DC and New York, UN and US officials put questions to Ashiru, regarding the Boko Haram problem, the escalation in terrorist attacks and the feared extra-judicial killings in Borno State recently.
While senior US and UN officials at the meeting wanted an investigation on the extra-judicial killing suspected in Baga, it was not clear whether either of the meetings discussed the controversial issue of amnesty for terrorists.
But a statement by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, at the weekend, simply noted that at the meeting in Washington DC on Thursday, the US Secretary of State was “informed of the special efforts we are making on opening up areas of economic development and generating employment, especially in northern Nigeria, as a means of checking easy recruitment into Boko Haram.”
Regarding the issue of extra judicial killings in dealing with terrorists, Ashiru’s statement disclosed that the Americans “expressed concern,” adding that Kerry specifically expressed the desire of the US government “to see human rights violators in the process of dealing with the Boko Haram brought to justice.”
But the Americans also used the meeting to express their concern over the fading anti-corruption efforts, especially with the controversial pardon granted the former Bayelsa State Governor. According to Ashiru, “we discussed America’s concern on the pardon granted to some convicted former officials.”
But the Minister who was accompanied by Professor Ade Adefuye, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, and other officials, explained that he assured the US government that the federal government was still committed to the fight against corruption in Nigeria, especially by promising that Nigeria will prosecute those involved in oil subsidy scandals.
In New York, according to a UN press statement issued Friday evening, “the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister discussed recent developments in Nigeria, including the recent spate of violence in the northern part of the country.”
Earlier in the week the Secretary-General Ban had issued a statement condemning the high rate of civilian casualty in the Baga killings while also calling for an end to terrorists attacks in the country.
Meanwhile, a senior presidency official, said the idea of erecting a security wall along the Nigeria-Chad border had been receiving official consideration for some time, but gained weight after the recent fighting in Baga, Borno State that pitched soldiers from Nigeria, Niger and Chad against terrorists who had turned the area into a base to attack civilians across northern Nigeria.
The source said: “The truth is, the security situation along the border with Chad has worsened considerably and we might need to take some radical measures to restore normalcy to the area and protect our people from these foreign criminals.”
He said intelligence reports from the area show that Nigerian communities along parts of the borders with Niger and Chad are exposed to frequent attacks from criminals from these countries, who are in the habit or stealing livestock and produce belonging to Nigerian farmers and attacking women in the area.
The raid, which dated to the Chadian Civil War in the 1980s, has since morphed into terrorism, as foreign militants and arms dealers are now believed to be using these routes to foment trouble in Nigeria.
The controversial military operation in Baga is reported to have killed, at least, 185 civilians and destroyed a quarter of the community.
But the Nigerian Army is disputing this figure. It said only 37 persons died in the clash, including six civilians, one soldier and 30 members of the Boko Haram sect.
The commander of the JTF in the area, Brig Gen Austin Edokpaye, told reporters, last week, that the force was surprised by the array of sophisticated heavy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, deployed by the terrorists.
He said the military action, which is believed to be ongoing, had led to arrest of several Boko Haram members and recovery of heavy weapons.
But the number of civilian casualties, which independent assessors say are much higher than the ones quoted by the army, means the Federal Government is looking beyond military options to secure the area. These include the deployment of surveillance equipment or erecting a structure across the border.
“We are studying the example of the United States along its southern border with Mexico, which has been demarcated by fence and walls to stop the flow of guns, drugs and unwanted persons from crossing the border,” the official said.
“The situation in the area is unsustainable and we cannot continue to expose our people to these dangerous elements. Everything is on the table. We are willing to do anything to secure the lives and property of our citizens,” he said.
But, contrary to initial reports of 185 deaths and destruction of 2, 000 houses at Baga, Borno State, however, Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan, yesterday, alleged there were 228 fresh graves and 4,000 demolished homes after the two-day clash between the Boko Haram sect and men of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF).
Senator Lawan, who addressed a press conference at his Gomari Ward residence in Maiduguri, the state capital, said he undertook a two-day personal assessment visit to the destroyed border town at the weekend and observed the “fresh graves” and 4,000 houses leveled to the ground.
According to him, there is much more to the original reports on number of people killed and houses destroyed in the fishing and commercial town of Baga."

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