The United States declaration of Boko Haram and Ansaru as foreign terrorist organisations is a significant boost to Nigeria’s effort to end their violent campaigns, says Rueben Abati, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Abati said the U.S. action deepens a strong collaboration with Nigeria, in the fight against global terrorism. The designation denies the groups access to U.S. financial institutions and allows banks to freeze assets held in the United States.
“What the US has done is an expression of further support for what the Nigerian authorities are doing, and a clear indication indeed that tackling terrorism is a global responsibility,” said Abati. “For the Nigerian government, this is a welcome and constructive development, and it provides further opportunities for deepening the existing collaboration between both countries in dealing with the scourge of terrorism and insurgency.”
In a meeting in October, Presidents Barack Obama and Jonathan discussed violence perpetrated by armed groups, including Boko Haram in some parts of Nigeria. Abati said both countries have demonstrated determination to defeat terrorism in Nigeria.
“Both Abuja and Washington will work together to make sure that terrorism does not continue to pose a threat to human progress in Nigeria or in any parts of the world. So there is that existing understanding, and what has happened now just takes it further,” said Abati.
Abati added that the designation strengthens the Nigeria administration’s efforts to thwart violence often carried out by Boko Haram and Ansaru, which creates chaos and insecurity in several parts of the West African country.
“It reinforces the position of Nigeria, and puts to end terrorism, [from] the insurgencies to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons….[It] is something that requires the cooperation of the international community,” said Abati. “What has happened is clearly a demonstration of that — that wherever it exists, terrorism is a threat not just to the immediate community, but (also) to the entire world.”
Abati said the country would hold Boko Haram accountable for the committing gross human rights violations against the people of Nigeria.
Last June, the Nigerian government designated Boko Haram a terrorist organisation.
Earlier this year, the government declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states as a strategy to curb violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. The measure has been renewed for a six-month period.
“The security agencies have shown great capacity in containing this scourge, in routing the terrorists and displacing them, and making it impossible for them to continue to challenge the sovereignty of the Nigerian state,” said Abati.
Critics, however, say the Federal Government has failed to rein in the violence and insecurity in parts of the country. They accused the administration of failing its core constitutional mandate of protecting civilians from harm. Abati disagreed.
“That will be an incorrect assessment,” said Abati. “A fair assessment would be a commendation of the efforts of the Jonathan administration, to ensure the security and welfare of all Nigerians…a lot of successes have been recorded and the administration nothing, but commendation. Normalcy has been restored to [some] states [and] the threat of terrorism has reduced.”