13 June 2014

Nigeria: Boko Haram Threatens U.S. Security - Congress

Photo: U.S. Department of State
Rep. Chris Smith (Republican-New Jersey) at Abuja's Unity Fountain, scene of #BringBackOurGirls protests.

Chairman of the Congress Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, Hon Christopher Smith, has said that the activities of Boko Haram threaten the United States' security and that of the American citizens globally.

He added that the Nigeria-based terrorists also threaten the economic interest of his country.

This is just as the Nigerian ambassador to the US, Prof Adebowale Adefuye, who was at the Congress to listen to the testimonies especially from Ambassador Robin Sanders which was generally positive and sympathetic to Nigeria, revealed that the Boko Haram activities would soon come to an end.

Speaking yesterday during a testimony on Boko Haram at the Rayburn Building in Washington, DC, Rep Smith noted that the threat of the group's activities was the reason why the United States designated the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).

"Surely, Boko Haram/Ansaru meets the criteria for an organisation to be declared an FTO," he said.

Rep Smith said further that it was imperative that the US provided the training and support for Nigerians to develop their own capacity to help Nigeria end the Boko Haram threat, stressing that there was also need to ensure that America's investigative capacity under the Foreign Terrorist Organisation designation was sufficient to identify those providing material and other assistance to Boko Haram. "Without this element, our sanctions on Boko Haram and its leaders will not be effective," he noted.

After the hearing which included Ambassador Robin Sanders, Mr Anselm John-Miller, Mr Emmanuel Ogebe, and Dr Peter Pham, Ambassador Adefuye held informal meetings with US Senators and Congressmen where he informed them of steps that the federal government has been taking to deal with security and other challenges facing Nigeria.

During the meeting with the US parliamentarians which Adefuye described as the continuation of diplomatic efforts that the Nigerian Embassy is making to correct the misguided perception of a large section of the American population on the situation in Nigeria, the envoy said that he and his staff had been holding series of meetings with key stakeholders in America, briefing them about the development in Nigeria and assuring them that the situation is not as bad as some media organisations made it to appear.

Adefuye also told the United States legislators that the destruction caused by Boko Haram was bad enough to cause concern but quickly added that it was limited to only three out of the thirty-six states of the country. He added that constructive activities had been going on in Nigeria.

"The embassy usually highlights the success of the World Economic Forum and the very successful Investment Forum held for the governors of the Northern States on May 10, 2014, and this is part of the continous efforts of the government to address areas affected by Boko Haram. The Mission makes the point that Boko Haram was a product of acts of commission or omission of post independent governments that preceded President Goodluck Jonathan. The Transformation Agenda of the president is trying to correct the defects in the structure and economy of the country"

The Ambassador pressed further that the embassy makes strenuous efforts to dismiss the notion of government delayed response to the Chibok kidnapping, stressing that government did and is still doing what a responsive government should do and promptly dop. He added that while the Bring Back Our Girls still continued, the engagement with the cross section of the American society had yielded some dividends as American society has now begun to understand that the image of Nigeria as presented by the international media has emphasized too much of the negatives and that Nigeria is a country that deserves the support and cooperation of objective people.

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