Human Rights Leaders Testify Against Boko Haram Before US Congress

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In continuation of the war against terrorism in Nigeria, United States-based human rights leaders on Wednesday testified against Boko Haram and the activities of the Nigeria’s terrorists, before the United States House Sub-Committeeon Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organisations.

Testifying before the Committee during the hearing titled: “The Ongoing Struggle Against Boko Haram”, Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe, Special Counsel, Justice for Jos Project Jubilee Campaign, said that

corruption was not the reason Boko Haram is fighting Nigeria, but noted that corruption was partly the reason the country had been unable to fight off Boko Haram.

He also said that the federal government had failed in its fight against terrorism by the use of military and police resources for political campaigns and other activities such as the huge security

deployments for the recently concluded World Economic Forum at the peak of the missing Chibok school girls.

The human rights leader pressed further that the US troop deployment to Chad was somewhat puzzling, stressing that it did not appear to be part of a definite strategy to rescue the kidnapped students.

He added that the deployment smacked of a political half-measure that was more aesthetic than effective, noting that it soothed the populist push for action while appeasing some Nigerian Muslim clerics who had warned about the effects of American troops in Nigeria. “Chad is more Muslim than Nigeria so this speaks volumes as to their sensitivities compared to northern Nigeria” he noted.

On the United Nations humanitarian assistance, Ogebe said that the world body rather than prioritizing victim assistance, was spending scandalous sums of money to document human rights abuses.

Also testifying before the Sub-committee, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria and CEO FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative, Ms. Robin Renee Sanders, said that the Nigerian government needed to understand that Boko Haram was unlike the Niger Delta conflict, adding that the terrorist group was executing asymmetrical warfare.

She explained that the existing challenges in some of the security structures in Nigeria were more evident now as the country was finding it difficult to cope with the threats, noting that it was good that Nigeria had accepted international assistance to begin to address some of the structural challenges and gaps in capability.

Sanders said: “Nigeria is at the beginning of a long war or long conflict, and they have to realise this. This is no longer a localised conflict or insurgency. There is no easy fix and every attack in response to Boko Haram cannot be viewed a death knell blow to it- a long range security framework to terrorist threat is what is needed”.

In his own testimony, Dr. Peter Pham, Director, African Centre Atlantic Council, said that the emergence of the terrorist group could not be understood without reference to the social, religious,

economic, and political milieu of northern Nigeria, adding that the passage of time between Maitatsine and Boko Haram could be marked by persistent corruption and relatively few improvements in the socioeconomic conditions of northern Nigeria which have made the region fall behind their counterparts in the South.

Dr. Pham also noted that: “Boko Haram had proved a useful instrument for the ambitions of certain politicians in northeastern Nigeria, including Ali Modu Sheriff, who availed himself of the support of the group’s leaders and their organization in his successful 2003 bid for the governorship of Borno State and subsequently appointed a prominent Boko Haram member, Alhaji Buji Foi, to his cabinet as state commissioner of religious affairs during his first term, thus giving the sect access to not inconsiderable public resources.

He continued that the influence of foreign elements, especially AQIM, had been witnessed in the proliferation of kidnappings-for-ransom in Nigeria, adding that a comprehensive strategy wasrequired to respond to the burgeoning threat posed by Boko Haram.

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