ABUJA (AFP) – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met the country’s main Muslim spiritual leader Tuesday after Christmas Day attacks blamed on Islamists that killed 40, including worshippers as they left church.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, made no comment as he entered Jonathan’s official residence on Tuesday afternoon.
Muslim leaders have come under pressure to take a more active role in seeking to stop attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the Christmas violence.
The sultan’s Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs issued a statement condemning the attacks.
“Security agencies must fish out the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and make them face the wrath of the law, regardless of their status, so as to serve as deterrent to others,” the statement said.
The council added that authorities “also must take proactive measures to nip in the bud the re-occurrence of such dastardly acts before they happen in order to create a sense of security and safety in the citizenry.”
Nigeria has seen scores of attacks claimed by Boko Haram, but some analysts said the Christmas bombings marked a dangerous escalation in a country divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
The deadliest of the Christmas violence was a bomb attack at a Roman Catholic church outside the capital Abuja as worshippers were leaving a mass, with at least 35 killed there.
Jonathan, a Christian from the south, has faced major opposition in the north of Africa’s most populous nation.