Nigeria’s neighbours provide safe haven for Boko Haram guerrillas

Ambassador tells Dáil committee progress is being made in rescuing kidnapped schoolgirls

“Bring Back Our Girls” protest  in Abuja, calling for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

“Bring Back Our Girls” protest in Abuja, calling for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

 

The Nigerian ambassador to Ireland, Felix Yusufu Pwol, has said the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, responsible for the abduction of 223 girls in northeastern Nigeria last month, is operating from countries neighbouring Nigeria including Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Speaking before a Dáil joint committee yesterday, the ambassador reported that Boko Haram often sought refuge in Cameroon following an attack on Nigerian soil.

“This insurgency is a declaration of war on the government and people of Nigeria,” Mr Pwol told the committee.

“In carrying out its destructive acts, the group has unleashed mayhem with guerrilla-style campaigns. It has claimed over 12,000 lives with more than 8,000 injured or maimed and has displaced thousands of innocent Nigerians.”

Mr Pwol called Boko Haram a “fairly recent development”, dating back to 2009, and explained the group’s name translated as “western education is prohibited”.

When asked by Pat Breen TD whether it was true that a Nigerian military official had located the kidnapped girls, Mr Pwol said he preferred not to comment.

‘Headway’ on abduction

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe, who highlighted that only 4 per cent of girls in northern Nigeria complete secondary school, asked the ambassador whether the evolution of extremist activities could be a “symptom” of poverty and inequality in the area.

“Poverty is not a licence to be killing innocent people,” responded Mr Pwol. “If we start behaving like that then we’ll set into anarchy.”