Nigeria - Government afraid of tackling extremists
A bishop from northern Nigeria says President Goodluck Jonathan's government is reluctant to fight the Boko Haram terrorist threat for fear of losing crucial votes in the upcoming elections.
Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza of Yola accused the government of lacking the will to crackdown on Boko Haram and other militant groups wreaking havoc across the country.
The bishop said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's regime was fearful of upsetting voters sympathetic to extremists.
Speaking in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Dami Mamza said that a state of emergency should be declared in north-east Nigeria and the region put under direct military control.
The bishop was speaking after 55 people were killed in Bama, Borno state, on Tuesday, May 7, when Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks and burned to the ground a police station, a military barracks and government buildings.
Bishop Dami Mamza, whose Yola Diocese in Adamawa state borders Borno, said that the government had the capacity to assert its authority but feared a backlash from supporters of extremists.
The bishop said, "I thought that by now, with security being in place, attacks such as in Borno would no longer have happened.”
"But this outbreak of violence shows that rural areas are vulnerable to attack because there is no security. In fact, it shows that in areas in the north-east outside the center of Maiduguri, security is getting worse."
Attacking the government's record on tackling Boko Haram, he said, "The problem is that the government does not take serious measures against Boko Haram.”
"Even the President is focused on the 2015 elections. If he puts in place measures to control Boko Haram, he will lose support from northerners."
The bishop added that the growing military capability of Boko Haram and the group's refusal to negotiate with the state authorities represented a fundamental threat to the rule of law.
The bishop said, "Do we allow Boko Haram to take over the government? We can't allow them to take over the government."
Bishop Mamza also warned that support for Boko Haram was growing.
He made his comments after suspected Boko Haram militants carried out an attack on Wednesday, May 8th, close to Yola Cathedral, where two people, including a street trader, were shot dead and another person was injured.