Nigeria attacks: President visits Kano

 

The BBC's Andrew Harding has been travelling with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

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President Goodluck Jonathan's heavily guarded convoy roared through the dusty centre of Kano on Sunday taking him to one of the sites of Friday's devastating bomb attacks, and to a hospital where some of the wounded are being treated.

It was the briefest of tours - perhaps because of security concerns. Crowds lined the streets in some areas but were kept back by armoured cars and soldiers.

At the airport, just before the president boarded his plane, I managed to speak to him for a couple of minutes. It struck me as a rather detached performance from Nigeria's leader.

He was evidently keen to put Boko Haram into an international context: "These suicide attacks are not really part of us - they are quite new to us."

"Unfortunately the whole world is passing through terror attacks - a very ugly stage of our history. We know that we will get over it. We will continue to fight - the security services will not rest till we clean up the country," he said.

President Jonathan said the security forces were now "trailing" Boko Haram, and that "some arrests have been made." But he admitted he had no idea how many militants were involved in Friday's attacks.

"Nobody can say for now - they are not organised armed forces," he said - a slightly odd assessment given that Boko Haram, in carrying out a sophisticated and well co-ordinated series of attacks, have just given a very clear display of quite how organised they can be.

President Jonathan said he was determined to find Boko Haram's sponsors: "Terrorists all over the world have their source of income. We are also looking to those areas to make sure that so-called Boko Haram… those who are encouraging them, those who are sponsoring them, will shortly be brought to book."

The president recently claimed that the militant group had infiltrated Nigeria's government and security services. When I asked him whether - given that - his forces could defeat the organisation, he said "of course - that will even make it easier for us to win."

I did not have a chance to ask him to explain what he meant before he turned and headed towards the plane.

Earlier in the day I visited one of the police stations destroyed on Friday. The commander, who did not want to be named, said about 50 militants had attacked simultaneously from three directions.

They threw explosives at the walls, and then stormed the building, freeing a number of people being detained. The commander said some of those released were Boko Haram supporters involved in bank robberies to fund the group.

He said the police withdrew when they ran out of bullets and escaped over a rear wall. The compound is in ruins, surrounded by burnt motor-bikes and cars.

 
Andrew Harding Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 48.

    I think dividing nigeria into two - northern Boko Haramist (extremist muslims) and southern (moderate muslim and Liberal) should be fine to settle current uncertain future of the nation that comes from force marriage from the colonial rulers.Recent events is a testimony that the marriage is no longer sustainable.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 47.

    There should be a referendum that'll break Nigeria into at least six independent countries. Lord Lugard amalgamated the south and the north only for British selfish interests. We are not one and neither shall we be one in the future. The north and the south are light years apart.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 46.

    Comment 37 is a good example of everything that is wrong with Nigeria in terms of religion, ethnicity and level of education!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 45.

    Nigeria should never have been made as one country. There are two major religions, as well as different ethnic splits and all along a north / south divide. When the UK left, there should have been two new states. muslim 'Nigeristan' in the north and 'Nigeria' in the south. It looks as though we are heading for that now.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 44.

    well it always benefits a president to have a terrorist in the backyard...Putin with Chechen terrorists, Israel with the PLO, then Hamas, US with the Talaban, UK with the dissidents, its an excellent diversion from the socio-economic problems facing most people. The result is the citizens become nationalist rather than revolutionary.

 

Comments 5 of 48

 

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