The incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the interview with journalists of Voice of America has said that militants from terror Boko Haram sect have moved to the Middle East for training with Islamic State militants.
President Jonathan, who is seeking re-election in coming presidential election, rejected to name the countries where the insurgents were supposedly trained.
But in an interview with VOA on Wednesday, March 11, he said he has long alleged Boko Haram of having associations with international jihadist groups.
Mr. President said: "So we know the links are there. But even now, we may not know the degree of linkages as to how much funds are coming in from them, the kind of volume of weapons coming in from them, the nationalities coming from them.’’
“But the training, because some of the Boko Haram members go to have their training in the ISIS camp and come back.”
After the postponement of general elections on February 7, Nigerian troops along with armies from neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger have pushed Boko Haram out of many towns and villages they took in the country’s Northeast.
In the interview, Jonathan attributed both the intervention of Nigeria's neighbors as well as the achievement of new weapons for turning the tide against the insurgents.
Mr. President said Cameroon previously rejected Nigeria permission to chase Boko Haram into its territory, and added that limits on foreign troops were matters of coordination.
“I think the idea is that - look, for any major aggression, we should know. Where possible, let some Nigerian soldiers also be with you,” the president said.
Jonathan also said that foreign technicians are present in the northeast to teach Nigerian troops on how to use their new weapons, since there wasn’t time to train the troops before they disposed.
“So we now have this technical people who are trainers and technicians, who are to train our people on how to use them, and technicians that help the maintenance, at the same time training our people how to maintain this equipment,” the head of the country said.
He said two anonymous companies were engaged in the training but rejected to offer nationalities or numbers of the trainers.
Jonathan discharged the supposition that Boko Haram’s terrorism has come to outline his tenure.
“Yes, it’s a major security issue, it’s the number one security issue we have as a nation. But definitely you cannot define us by Boko Haram," President said.
Jonathan also forecasted that the northeastern states of Yobe and Adamawa would be cleared of Boko Haram territory before the middle of next week. He said he hopes neighboring Borno State, where the group started, will be cleared in the next three weeks.
But Jonathan said he supposes Boko Haram to continue bombing markets and bus stops. Mr. President says the government’s plan is to recover intelligence gathering as well as job and educational prospects in the northeast as a long-term strategy to destroy the group.
Watch the interview below:
It should be noted that Jonathan’s key opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, told journalists last week that he is not surprised that Nigerian soldiers have begun to push Boko Haram out of areas the fighters had taken.
Buhari said that in the past the soldiers weren’t correctly equipped and weren’t appropriately interested to fight. The joint operations with Chad, Niger and Cameroon forced the government to get more sophisticated weapons to the troops, Buhari said.