Nigeria: Embattled President Jonathan seeks to ensure elections despite deadly terrorist attacks
Islamist terrorists shot to death more than 50 students in Yobe state, following a week of terror in which a Christian church was torched and 30 other Nigerians murdered.
Following a deadly terrorist attack on a student dormitory, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said that Boko Haram or any other group cannot frustrate Nigeria's efforts to become a great nation. He expressed shock over the killing of more than 50 students at the agriculture college in Yobe State, while saying that he is at a loss of words in describing what to tell his countrymen. Jonathan said that certain unnamed politicians are seeking to create a crisis in the oil-rich African nation in order to put themselves in power. "The challenges we are seeing now are very transient and we will get to the end of it. No Boko Haram or any group can frustrate this country," the president stated.
He was speaking at an inter-denominational service to commemorate Nigeria’s independence. Jonathan said, "Nigeria is at the turning point where I believe we must move and join the global society. If you look at the journeys of nations, first and foremost before you liberate people you must make sure that they have a civilised way of electing their leaders and we have almost reached there. We must make sure we conduct free and fair elections, but forces of evil don't want it that way.”
Jonathan said that militants identifying themselves as adherents of Boko Haram, a Muslim sect that seeks to impose Muslim law and eliminate Christians, were responsible for an attack that occurred in the pre-dawn hours on September 29. "They want a situation where they will continue to impose themselves or whoever they like on the people. The forces of evil will continue to push us backwards but our commitment and the will of God to move forward will surely suppress them. We thank God so far for our journey as a nation."
According to a spokesman for the Nigerian army, on September 29 there was an attack at the College of Agriculture in Gujba in Yobe State by Boko Haram terrorists barged into the school and opened fire on sleeping students. In addition, classrooms were torched in the attack. Security forces are still recovering bodies of the students, most of who are aged between 18 and 22 years. The Muslim terrorists arrived on the campus under cover of darkness in two pickups and several motorcycles, wearing Nigerian army uniforms. According to a witness, they appeared to know the layout of the campus, attacking the four dormitories reserved for men while avoiding the women’s dormitory. After assembling some of the students in groups outside of their dormitories, the terrorists began shooting them to death. Survivors ran into the bush to seek safety. The college now appears to be deserted.
Northeastern Nigeria continues to be under a military state of emergency declared in May to battle Boko Haram terrorists who have killed more than 1,700 people since 2010 in their quest to install an Islamic state. Half Nigeria’s 160 million citizens are Christian. Until recently, fighting in the northern sector of Nigeria had appeared calm. Over the last month, incidents began emerging throughout northern Nigeria. In recent weeks, more than 300 people may have been killed by Boko Haram.
Almost all those killed at the Muslim-majority agricultural college were Muslims. Mourners wailed outside of the hospital morgue where bodies have been taken. The dead have been laid out in rows on the hospital lawn for identification. According to Al Jazeera, one body had its fists clenched to the chest in a protective gesture, while another had hands clasped as if in prayer. A third had arms raised in surrender.
College provost Idi Mato said that there were no government security forces on hand at the college before the attack despite promises for protection. Yobe State education commissioner Mohammmed Lamin called for all schools to reopen and promised military and police protection. It was an attack on July 6 at Mamudo, near Damaturu, that terrorists murdered 29 students and their teacher. Some of them were burned alive in their dormitories.
Boko Haram has been blamed for at least 30 killings in the week prior to the massacre at Gujba. On September 26, Muslim militants murdered an Evangelical Christian pastor, his son and a village leader before torching their church in Dorawa. The terrorists used explosive devices to set the church alight along with five homes at the village that is about 80 miles from Damaturu. Twenty-seven people died in an attack in another village of Borno state, near the northeast border with Cameroon. Farmers and government officials alike are fleeing the country to seek refuge in neighboring Cameroon and Chad. Boko Haram units are holed up in the Gwoza Hills, a mountainous area with caves that harbor them despite repeated aerial bombardments by Nigeria’s military. A local government official, according to AP news service, spoke anonymously about the situation in Gwoza because he feared for his life. The official reported that the town of Gwoza is now deserted. The official said that Boko Haram had chased medical personnel from the government hospital in Gwoza, where the victims of terrorist attacks were being treated. In addition, the terrorists have burned down three public schools in the area.
More than 30,000 people have fled the terrorist attacks to Cameroon and Chad.
Nigeria is preparing for presidential elections in 2014 when President Jonathan, a Christian, is up for reelection. Some Muslim extremists and other political parties do not want another term for Jonathan.
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