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

    Comment number 8.

    sorry to ask a stupid question, i have been trying to follow but am not sure whats is happening so i would be glad if someone told me what on earth is happening in Nigeria?, shocked to read the death toll might escalate to 250 persons? is it Christians vs Muslims, protests backfiring, or up-rise against the ruling regime. what is going on there

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu and the Borno State Governor's should be brought to book. The people are fully part of book haram. They should be kept in prison and be tried for there are aiding the terrorism act in Nigeria. The government should take drastic action on these two fellows. The Commissioner and the governor originated from same state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Mr. Jonathan, if he really does have a PhD, has made the degree look like a certificate for unparalleled ineptitude in sociopolitical matters.

    We don't need a leader who always reminds us that he had NO SHOES as a child. Rather, we need a nationalist who actually HAD SHOES as a child and knows when and where the shoe pinches (pun intended). As we all have seen, PhDs do not a good leader make.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I think Onyii is right in his/her assertion. How can one renconcile their mission statement of averseness to Western education with their means of fighting their cause? By using Western technology and means to fight an end that questions the very validity of Western education, Bokom Haram has become another contradiction of the 21st century. Their end and means are in startling contrast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    boko haram said western education is forbiden ,what about the gun and the bomb that they are using are they not from westerns . as for me nigeria need to be divided ,let boko be, let moslems be and let christians be ,then good will continue to be good now wake up wake up please wake up JONATHAN

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    "A rather detached performance". That sums up Jonathan Goodluck's presidency so far. He is completely detached from the reality of life in Nigeria with terrorist attacks, bad roads, irregular electricity supply, and barely functioning hospitals. He really has no understanding of what the average Nigerian goes through everyday, just to survive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Those who worked in Nigeria are well aware President Goodluck is unaware of the implications of his actions, yet he continues to parade with false bravado. They have no clue what is going on, for sure Nigeria is heading the way "as predicted" of being the next Somalia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Boko Haram flourishes because there is no credible security apparatus in Nigeria. An arrested leader of the terror group escaped Police detention last week in Abuja of all places and you expect security in Kano or Borno?

    The Nigerian leader has no idea how to deal with this. They keep putting out frivolous statements like they are "on top of the situation" while terror runs unabated!


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