UN approves sanctions on Boko Haram as search for Nigerian girls continues

 

ImageS. Ambassador Samantha Power welcomed the council’s action, calling it “an important step in support of the government of Nigeria’s efforts to defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable for atrocities.”

Nigeria, which is serving a two-year term on the council, asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida to add Boko Haram to the list of al-Qaida-linked organizations subject to an arms embargo and asset freeze.

None of the 14 other council members objected.

Australia’s U.N. Ambassador Gary Quinlan, who chairs the al-Qaida sanctions committee, told reporters that Boko Haram is now on the sanctions list under the name Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, with Boko Haram as an alias.

Nigeria’s U.N. Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu said Wednesday that “the important thing is to attack the problem, and that is terrorism.”

Boko Haram’s five-year-old Islamic uprising has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians, including more than 1,500 people killed in attacks this year.

The group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has tried to root out Western influence by targeting schools, churches, mosques, government buildings and security forces. The homegrown terrorist group was largely contained to the northern part of Nigeria before expanding its reach with the help of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the terrorist network’s affiliate in West Africa.

Jonathan only reluctantly accepted outside help after years of insisting that Boko Haram was a local problem. According to the U.N. sanctions committee, Boko Haram is responsible for attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria and Cameroon and has been active in Chad and Niger.

NIGERIANS PROTEST

In Nigeria, scores of protesters chanting “Bring Back Our Girls” marched to the presidential villa in the capital, Abuja, to demand more action to find and free the girls. President Goodluck Jonathan did not meet with them, leaving a proxy to deliver a lecture that further angered the demonstrators.

“Another small window for Jonathan and he refuses to use it!” one protester yelled. “What a stupid move!”

The protesters complained of the insensitivity of Jonathan, who did not even meet parents of some of the abducted children when they went to Nigeria’s capital earlier this month.

Many schools across the country also closed Thursday to protest the abductions, the government’s failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years.

In Abuja, the protesters sang, “All we are saying is bring back our girls,” to the tune of John Lennon’s iconic “Give Peace a Chance.”

Junior minister Olajumoke Akinjide read a message from the president urging Nigerians to unite and stop criticizing the government. It was “wrong and most unfair,” she said, to suggest the government reacted slowly, adding that the president meets daily with security chiefs.

Murmurs of disagreement rose as she declared: “The people of Afghanistan do not blame the government, they blame the terrorists.”

Nigerians, she said, should instead be “encouraged to supply useful information to the security services.”

That inflamed the crowd, which said residents of Chibok did exactly that, but the military failed to respond to warnings.

In Maiduguri, the northeastern city that is the birthplace of Boko Haram, protesting teachers said they could no longer “tolerate government insensitivity to the plight of the girls and the education sector.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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