President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said the excesses of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, must be curbed, not minding what it would cost the government.
“The excesses of Boko Haram must stop. That is the decision of this present government now. It must stop, whatever it will cost the government, it must stop,” he said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in an interview with journalists on the sideline of the 21st ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Africa Union.
The President boasted that the government had the wherewithal to confront the reign of terror being unleashed by the sect members and that their actions were already being confronted with his recent declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Also at the same forum, Jonathan told the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon that the state of emergency in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa might be called off before the end of six months initial prescription by the Constitution.
The President said with the level of success so far recorded by the military in the affected states, he was optimistic that the emergency rule would end soon.
“The military intervention in the affected states is going on well. There is no human rights abuse and there is no collateral damage with regards to security of individuals. I am optimistic that with the level of success already being recorded, the emergency rule in the affected states may not last up to the six months stipulated by the Constitution,” he told Ban.
Jonathan also said that reports at his disposal showed that the relationship between civilians and soldiers on duty had been excellent.
He said the soldiers’ rules of engagements and operation order were well defined and presence of troops in the areas had been welcomed by the residents.
The President added that his recent order for the release of women and children being held by security agencies was a sign of commitment to resolving the security challenge within the ambit of the law, assuring the UN Secretary-General that the state of emergency was not designed to inflict suffering on the civilians.
Jonathan also assured him that Nigeria would continue to play its leading role in the West African sub region.
Ban had earlier sympathised with the government and people of Nigeria over the violence being unleashed on parts of the country by members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
He noted that terrorism had become a global challenge and identified with the Federal Government on efforts being made to resolve the challenge. He also advised that there should be prudent and cautious measures to protect civilian population living in the affected areas.
On curbing Boko Haram, Jonathan told the journalists that although terrorism was a global problem with the United States and United Kingdom and other countries having their shares, his administration was working hard to contain it in terms of immediate, medium and long-term approaches.
He said, “For the short term, of course, there must be military intervention, we must beef up security, we must change the security architecture to make sure that we detect that something is about to happen before it happens so that we will be able to stop it.
“We have stopped a number of incidents in the country. It is just that the few that happened affect life and whenever life is affected, you will not even think that somebody is doing anything.
“That is why recently I even had to declare a state of emergency in three states so that we go all out to make sure that we seize these weapons.
“A lot of free weapons come in because of the Libyan crisis. We must seize them. They are illegal weapons and must be seized and you cannot do that without declaring a state of emergency to enable the military enter any house, whether it is a residential building or a church, a mosque, a shrine, anywhere, and hotel. We will be able to enter and seize these weapons.
“In the short term, it is to seize these weapons. That is why those three states we have the worst cases; we declared a state of emergency. By the time we finish combing, we would not have just stopped it there but we would have seized most of the weapons they are using. That is the short term.”
The President added that his government’s medium term strategy was to concentrate more on education.
He observed that the part of the country, where there had been prevalence of Boko Haram activities, has the highest rate of school dropouts.
He said although the Constitution put the issue of basic education under the purview of state and local governments, the Federal Government still found it essential to intervene to make sure that there is improvement in the sector.
Jonathan said the idea behind the intervention was to make sure that people received education so that they would not be easily brainwashed.
He said another government’s approach was to create an economic environment that would afford individuals opportunities to fend for themselves.