President Muhammadu Buhari in a new interview with Al Jazeera says he will not resign if he cannot fulfill his promise of defeating Boko Haram by December 2015.
In the wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hasan, Buhari says, “I will be determined to stay and fight it out” instead of resigning if he fails in the war against Boko Haram.
He, however, restated his pledge to defeat Boko Haram by December but also acknowledged he would be willing to negotiate with the group to secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls.
“We said it and we meant it. If we are satisfied that the girls are alive,” Buhari told Hasan, host of UpFront. “They have to prove to us that they are alive, they are well, and then we can…negotiate with them,”
When asked whether he would offer financial payments, or a prisoner release, to Boko Haram in return for the girls, Buhari did not rule out either option. “Well it depends on the negotiations with the leadership of Boko Haram.”
Buhari reveals that he believes the change of weather will help him to win the war against Boko Haram.
“As soon as the rainy season comes, which is by the end of the year, Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it,” Buhari boldly declared. “Attacks by Boko Haram on townships, on military installations, will certainly stop.”
Nigeria’s President also claims that he has not seen the widely circulated Amnesty International report from June 2015, ‘Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands’, in which the human-rights group documented abuses, torture and unlawful killings by the Nigerian armed forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders.
“I haven’t received that report personally,” he said on UpFront. “If I get those documents… I assure you that I will take action as Commander in Chief.”
In July, the President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu confirmed that Buhari had received the report which he said contained “disturbing details”. He said in a press statement reacting to the publication of the Amnesty International report, “This administration will leave no stone unturned to promote the rule of law, and deal with all cases of human rights abuses”.
Buhari, who is on record as saying he supports “the total implementation of Sharia law in the entire country”. Expressed the restrictions he faces in implementing an ideology which he has been careful not to denounce. He maintained that he was constrained by the Constition, when asked about his beliefs on Sharia.
“Nigerian law does not allow for” so-called sharia punishments, such as stonings and amputations, adding: “I cannot change it. I haven’t been voted by (a) majority of Nigerians to change Nigerian constitution,” Buhari maintained.
Buhari, who is known as despotic military dictator in the 80s with widespread record of human rights abuses against Nigerians, says that no injustice occurred under his strong-arm regime. He said he would apologise if “any injustice can be proven against me when I was there”.
The retired army general refused to concede that his notorious “war against indiscipline” in which soldiers flogged and punished citizens on the streets of Nigeria and subjected many to torture did not feature any “injustice”.
Amnesty International puts the death toll from Boko Haram attacks at 1,600 since Buhari was sworn into office on May 29.
Maiduguri has suffered series of bombings in the past two weeks beginning from October 1. The new death toll for this mornings suicide bombing in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State has risen to 39.
UpFront is Al Jazeera English’s flagship current affairs show which broadcasts from Al Jazeera’s brand new studios in Washington DC Fridays. The full interview airs on Aljazeera late today, Friday, October 16, 2015 by 7.30pm. It can be watched online HERE.