8 May 2014

Nigeria president: ‘beginning of the end of terrorism’

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says a group of kidnapped schoolgirls will be found, and their rescue will be a turning point in his country’s battle against the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, which is meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja, President Jonathan said: “let me use this unique opportunity to appreciate other countries that have expressed their commitment to help us, especially in respect of rescuing these girls that have disappeared from one of our secondary schools.”

“I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria.”

But tackling the terror group has been a struggle for the Nigerian military. In the past, the Nigerian military’s “successes” have caused concern amongst human rights groups.

In March 2014 Boko Haram attacked the Giwa military barracks in Borno in order to try and release detainees. Amnesty International says it has credible evidence that after the military regained control 600 people, mostly unarmed, recaptured detainees, were extra-judicially executed.

Read more: Boko Haram's four-year reign of terror

“The scale of atrocities carried out by Boko Haram is truly shocking creating a climate of fear and insecurity. But this cannot be used to justify the brutality of the response that is clearly being meted out by the Nigerian security forces,” said Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director for Africa at Amnesty International.

Ms Donnelly from Chatham House told Channel 4 News that the government has been quick to use the military against Boko Haram, but not as ready to implement change that could improve the situation for people in the economically disadvantaged north.

Investment boost

However, on Wednesday, at the World Economic Forum which is taking place in Abuja (with a major security crackdown), a positive sign of change was announced.

Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, announced he will invest $2.3bn in sugar and rice production in the north of the country. Dangote told the World Economic Forum that creating employment was key to ending insurgency in the region.