ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday violence blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram was worse than the country’s 1960s civil war, with sympathisers of the sect in government and security agencies.
“The situation we have in our hands is even worse than the civil war that we fought,” Jonathan said at a church service, referring to Nigeria’s 1967-70 civil war that killed more than a million people.
The death toll linked to violence blamed on the Islamist group has not reached anywhere near that level, but Jonathan cited the unpredictability and pervasiveness of the threat.
“During the civil war, we knew and we could even predict where the enemy was coming from … But the challenge we have today is more complicated.”
Describing the extent of the problem, he said Boko Haram members and sympathisers could be found throughout society.
“I remember when I had a meeting with elders from the northeast and some parts of the northwest where the Boko Haram phenomenon is more prevalent,” he said.
“Somebody said that the situation is bad, that even if one’s son is a member, one will not even know. That means that if the person will plant a bomb behind your house, you won’t know.”
He added that “some of them are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary.
“Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.”
There has long been claims of political links to factions of Boko Haram, which has been blamed for intensifying violence that has killed hundreds, including attacks targeting Christians and churches in recent weeks.(AFP)