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 28.

    Nigeria under military regime was peaceful though the current decay in the system is attributed to the military regimes. I must say however, that it is shameful that Nigeria with some of the sharpest minds on earth cannot produce a single good leader. The crises in that country is nothing but crises of leadership. Make no mistake, there is no democracy in Nigeria but deceptive democracy.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 27.

    Boko Haram chief complaint is loss of power. Under British rule, northern Islamic leaders were left in charge at independence. With the return of democracy in 1999, powerful Nigerians formed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Presidency would rotate between N & S. Northern President Umaru Yar'Adua died in 2010. Southern Christian VP Goodluck Jonathan assumed power; then, he won the presidency.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 26.

    Nigerians in senior positions have assured that Boko Haram is just another monster of Nigeria's mercenary politics; it can be "settled" with bags of cash - the Nigerian way. Right now politicians don't know who to pay or even who to talk to. Although security was tightened after the bombings in Abuja, weekend attacks show Boko Haram is in complete control of where & when they plant their bombs.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 25.

    Nigeria - divided between Christian south & Muslim north. But in some places people are protecting each other. Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, capital of 19th Century Islamic Caliphate, called on people to protect each other. In Kano, Muslims gathered round to protect Christians. In Minna & recently in Lagos, the same thing repeated itself in reverse.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 24.

    Last year Boko Haram blew up national police HQ & UN HQ in Capital, Abuja. It also bombed churches. Thousands of southerners, many of whom had lived peacefully in the north for decades, fled. Ominously, the last time southerners - particularly Igbo people from S.E. - were targeted by northerners Nigeria was plunged into civil war.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 23.

    Movement's new leader, Kabiru Umar (aka Kabiru Sokoto) escaped from police custody. He was arrested & accused of organising bombing of St Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla on Christmas Day, killing 40 people. Large but unarmed crowd marched on police station demanding his release & POLICE HANDED HIM OVER! After police lost him they started shooting & arresting innocent people.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 22.

    My country is gradually going down and needs urgent steps. First there is begging need for a soverign national conference to figure out the best governance structure. Second, this PDP arrangement should be destroyed because it can't move the country forward. You cannot develop as nation without peace. Currently there is no peace in Nigeria...but war. Boko Haram means a lot but it's just a symptom.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 21.

    In 2009 police attacked HQ in Maiduguri, seized its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, & executed him. Boko Haram declared war on state, police in particular. Deeply despised by population, police became Boko's chief target. Nigeria's police are generally held in contempt for brutality & corruption. More recently, during the national election last year, we watched voters openly defy police.

  • rate this
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    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.

  • rate this
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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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
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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 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 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
    +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 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
    0

    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.

 

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