President Goodluck Jonathan has disclosed that the war against terror has blown into a full scale war, which has now taken the lives of about 12,000 people.
Addressing the Regional Summit on Security convened by France President, Francois Hollande in Paris, on Saturday, Jonathan said that the Boko Haram insurgency was targeting the stability and integrity of Nigeria and, therefore, requested the international community to designate the group as Al-Qaeda in West Africa followed by necessary sanctions.
Jonathan and his contemporaries in Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin Republics declared a “total war” on the terrorist sect, including Ansaru, noting that it had become a regional al-Qaeda that threatened the entire West African region.
The presidents of the countries, in a meeting with officials from the United Kingdom, United States and France at the Paris summit, designed to work out a plan to enable them to share intelligence, coordinate action and monitor borders, agreed on a number of initiatives to curtail the excesses of the insurgents and as well mobilise funds in support of women and girls in marginalised areas.
The summit agreed to institute sanctions against Boko Haram and Ansaru within the framework of the United Nations.
Total war on Boko Haram
According to Jonathan, “Boko Haram is no longer a local terrorist group; it is operating clearly as an al-Qaeda operation. It is an al-Qaeda of West Africa,” even as Hollande stated that Boko Haram was a threat to West and Central Africa.
“Boko Haram is a major threat for all of western Africa and now Central Africa with proven links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other terrorist organisations,” Hollande said, just as the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, noted that neighbouring countries to Nigeria were ready to wage war against Boko Haram as fears mount the group will spread beyond its borders and destabilise the wider region.
Though France ruled out any direct military operation, noting saying Nigeria was to take the lead, its president revealed that France’s Rafale fighter jets based in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, about 60 kilometres from the Nigerian border, would be involved in reconnaissance missions.
Boko Haram has already targeted French interests in Nigeria, kidnapping a French family in northern Cameroon last year.
Jonathan said his government has shown commitment for a regional approach. “Without West African countries coming together we will not be able to crush these terrorists,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cameroonian president, Paul Biya, has promised to send more means and troops towards the country’s Northern border, where Nigeria complained is being used by the militants as sanctuary from the Nigerian military.
‘12,000 Nigerians have been killed by sect’
Preisdent Jonathan said: “Since 2009, we have had to contend with many attacks and killings, which have now developed into a full-scale war targeting the stability and integrity of our Nation. Boko Haram has launched a vicious guerrilla-style campaign against the government and the people of Nigeria.
“It has attacked schools, slaughtered students in their dormitories, destroyed villages, communities and government infrastructure and has wreaked havoc on the economic and social life of our people.
“This unconventional war has so far claimed over 12,000 lives, with more than 8, 000 persons injured or maimed, not to mention the displacement of thousands of innocent Nigerians.
“We have developed intelligence, which indicates clearly that global terrorist networks are deeply involved in the recent activities of Boko Haram, which has now turned into an integral part of the Al Qaeda network as the West African Branch.
“At the international level, we should take concrete steps to designate the Al-Qaeda in West Africa, alias Boko Haram, as a Terrorist Organisation on the basis of the Proscription Order that my government has already imposed on the organisation,” Jonathan said.