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, Africa correspondent Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this
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    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!

  • rate this
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    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
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    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
    -1

    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
    -1

    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    Comment number 9.

    The recently arrested and escaped Boko haram leader is a graduate of physics and chemistry. The leaders are educated, while the stupid foot soldier remain Boko Haram. The group aims appears to be a political strategy, rather than borne out of any religious ideology. This strategy is as old as the north.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    The problem is very Simple if the Boko Haram said they are against the western Education why they use Gun and Bombs, Why they use Internet and other western technologies, I think this is stupidity the best is that let us divide then let them be in their north there and we shall see what they will become in next 10 years without western Technologies.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 11.

    What I know is that there is complicity of Northern Leaders in this and if this should cross to the south they will not take this as Boko Haram matter it will result to ethnic war by killing each other it is better that their leaders talk to them now because all their target are against christians and southerners.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    From the interview given, Mr. Jonathan seems to have little or no knowledge of the current precarious situation in Nigeria. Was he not briefed very well or he lacks good adviser who's interest at heart is not the security and unity of the country. These are conspiracies and coordinated efforts in attempt to dismember Nigeria and such negative plans may not do well to both Africa and the world.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    reading the column again i notice the president does not take the issue as a situation affecting Nigeria only, he blames it on worldwide terror..."Unfortunately the whole world is passing through terror attacks "... the worst mistake he is making is not taking full responsibility and acknowledging something is wrong. By so doing, he might put Nigeria in serious jeopardy something hard to heal from

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    The Boko Haram is a terrorist entity. Its medus operandi of voilence should be meted-out with drastic measures: by depth and degree. Propagandistics quibbles by President Jonathan would not solve the problem. Authorities in government materially found siding or sympathising with these radicals should be booted out, brought to justice and given examplery jail terms.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    I fell really sorry for my Nigerian brothers.I saw the President speak and with all due respect he spoke like a primary 1 trainee school teacher. Jonathan spoke with no confidence and his voice was shaky and the English too was an embarrasment. He must speak in his mothers tongue for sure.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    I listened to the interview on BBC World Service last night and i had to shake my head in total bewilderment. Those attacks are not new to Nigerians. It seems the President has been cocooned in Abuja for too long!

    if there is a leader who has failed to inspire any confidence in the citizenry after a terrorist act, it is this one. The laid back attitude was a sorry sight to behold. Shameful.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    Presidency needs to appeal to Nigerian civil society resident in Nigeria and outside to offer their opinion on this serious issue because, President's response showed that he lacks key factors to solving the problems.Nigeria has its own peculiarities and so, should not be liken to global terror. Address Injustice, Corruption, Fraud etc in govt and lets Citizens discuss the way they want to be led

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    President Jonah seem to be a week president who lacks good advisers & he is part of the ongoing crises in nigeria.Can u imagine the president kneeling down before the redeem pastor in public?thats simply shows that Nigeria is a christian country..so tell me how can he fight the Boko´s without them beliving he is fighting a religious battle & not for NIGERIA?I pray this willn`t lead to a civil war

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Boko Haram recent strike in Kano might be a reflection of how disgrutled the islamic extremist are with their emir and politicians and not just with the nigeria nation. It is also a wake up call on those politician (Arewa) that have benefited from the teaching of religious hatred while improverish majority of his followers. Society is changing is just a matter of time!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    Goodluck Jonathan is between a rock & a hard place: death toll rising above 160, bombs in Kano, credibility of security forces…At first, Boko Haram looked like messianic Islamic sect, like others before it, would burn off its ferocity. Founded in 2002, Boko Haram calls for an Islamic Caliphate in northern Nigeria under strict Islamic law where non-Muslims will not be allowed to live.

 

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