Voice of America (Washington, DC)

3 June 2014

Nigeria: Opposition Rejects Boko Haram Sympathizer Label

A prominent member of Nigeria's main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has resigned from the party after accusing senior members of the group of being supporters and sympathizers of the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

Local media reports that Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister has since rejoined President Goodluck Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) after leaving the party a year ago to join the opposition with much fanfare.

But, Lai Mohammed spokesman for the opposition APC denied the accusations as without merit and said that Fani-Kayode was not a leading member of the party.

"The allegation that we are sympathizers of Boko Haram or not, unfortunately this is the same mindset of the president, which has led Nigeria to this sorry state," said Mohammed. "The PDP has lost credibility. All they do now is tag everybody [as] being a pro Boko Haram. I will begin to ask them if, I'm a supporter of Boko Haram, what is your evidence, and why am I still walking the streets, free?"

Mohammed says the administration in Abuja has yet to organize a national security dialogue involving all stakeholders to help resolve the security threat Boko Haram poses despite the party's repeated request.

In a letter to the Vanguard, a local newspaper, Fani-Kayode criticized the APC leadership of being intolerant of dissent and the country's secularism.

"I cannot be in a party in which the spokesman, Lai Mohammed said that it was wrong and "unconstitutional" for the Federal Government to proscribe Boko Haram... where the leading presidential candidate, said that Boko Haram ought not to be killed but ought to be pampered and paid and who said, in 2011, that Muslims should only vote for people who will protect their faith," wrote Fani-Kayode.

Mohammed denied the accusation that leaders of the APC want Boko Haram militants to be pardoned for the crimes they have committed including the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok over a month ago.

"I challenge anybody to come out and say where my party or I said so. It is true my party said there is no way you can win this war without dialogue. Is that the same thing to say we are supporting Boko Haram? Asked Mohammed. "I challenge anybody to come up with any document which will say don't proscribe, or say treat Boko Haram like you have treated the Niger Delta militants."

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