Nigeria says winning war against insurgents
19 February 2014, 14:42
Abuja - Nigeria is winning the war against Boko Haram Islamists in the restive northeast that has claimed thousands of lives, a presidential spokesperson said on Tuesday, dismissing suggestions the insurgents were having the upper hand.
"We state authoritatively without any fear or equivocation whatsoever that Nigeria is already winning the war against terror and the activities of the insurgents will be terminated within the shortest possible time," Doyin Okupe told reporters in Abuja.
He said government troops were "on top of the situation" after launching an offensive to end the four-year-old violence.
Stressing that the country's military was among the best equipped in Africa, he said insurgents had moved their deadly attacks to remote areas after they were dislodged from urban bases in the northeast near the Nigerian border.
"The Nigerian military is prevented from pursuing them into these foreign territories by law and international conventions and this obviously gives continuous respite to the insurgents," Okupe said.
On Monday, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, one of three states under emergency rule as a result of the insurgency, said Boko Haram fighters were having the upper hand in the conflict and called for troop reinforcements in the region.
He made the call in the capital Abuja after talks with President Goodluck Jonathan and the security chiefs following the latest massacre in Borno of 106 people in the mostly Christian village of Izghe on Saturday.
"We are in a state of war. That is what I came to tell the president," Shettima told reporters after the meeting.
"I made it emphatically clear to Mr President that Boko Haram are better armed and better motivated" than the security forces, he added.
He said that unless more troops and more resources were deployed to Borno, "it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram".
Borno along with Adamawa and Yobe states was placed under emergency rule in May, when the military launched a major offensive aimed at crushing the Islamist uprising which has killed thousands since 2009.
Attacks have continued despite the beefed up military presence. Borno, where Boko Haram sprung up in 2002, has been the hardest hit area.
Boko Haram which in Hausa means Western education is evil has said it is fighting to create a strict Islamic state in the country's mainly Muslim north.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is roughly evenly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.