• Again, president blames Libya
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Washington DC; Chukwudi Nweje
President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, yesterday, decried the spate of killings of Christians in Nigeria, saying it was unacceptable. He assured that the issue would top discussions he and President Muhammadu Buhari would have in their closed-door meetings.
“…We have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria, we are going to be working on that problem very, very hard because we cannot allow that to happen,” Trump said when he received Buhari at the White House, Washington DC.
Speaking later at a joint press conference, Trump restated his condemnation of the continued religious violence, describing it as horrible.
“The burning of churches and persecution of Christians is a horrible story. We encourage Nigeria to do everything in their power to protect innocent civilians, including Moslems and Christians,” Trump said.
This came a day after the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) declared a day of prayer and protest over the incessant killings by suspected herders across the country.
Trump, in his welcome remark said: “We have been working on terrorism and terrorism related. We have also been very big on trade. We have also been working on military equipment, helicopters and the like. We have met before, we have a great relationship. I look forward to our discussion today again, especially as it relates to terrorism. Terrorism here, terrorism all over the world is a hotbed and we are going to be stopping them.
“Also, we have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria, we are going to be working on that problem very, very hard because we cannot allow that to happen.”
President Buhari who thanked the United State government for its support to Nigeria by approving the sale of military hardware as well as spare parts, assured that his administration was working on addressing the problem.
He noted that assistance from the United States has helped a great deal in dealing with the country’s security issues.
“Thank you Mr. President very much for inviting me; it’s a great honour. On security, I am very grateful to the United States for agreeing to sell to us the aircraft we asked for and the spare parts. We are even more grateful for the physical presence of the United States military who are training in our institutions and who also go to the front in the North-east to see how they (Nigerian troops) are doing.
“The commitment of the United States to get rid of terrorism across the world, we have first hand experience of that and we are very grateful for it.”
For the second time in less than one month, Buhari again blamed the worsening security situations and bloodletting on the late Libyan president, Muammar Ghadaffi. He claimed the former Libyan strongman trained the AK47-weilding herders who have turned part of the country, especially the Middle Belt to a killing field.
“The problem of cattle herders is a very long historical problem. What is of concern is that before now the Nigerian herders were known to carry sticks and machetes with which they cut foliage for their animals but these ones (killer herders) are carrying AK 47. So, I don’t think we should underrate Libya…43 years of Gaddafi, people were being recruited from the Sahel and people were being killed. With his demise, they moved from their country and their region with their training and their weapons and that is what aggravated the situation.
“We are doing our best to make ensure we stop the cross border movement and so on. It will take time.
“We are happy with the United States for trying to see the end of ISIS. This has helped us a lot because the Boko Haram in Nigeria had one time made a statement that they belonged to ISIS. Now that ISIS is virtually gone, we are very happy with that. We are stabilising the situation in Nigeria.”
Trump, while agreeing that ISIS has been degraded asked Buhari what he was doing to rescue the kidnapped schoolgirls in Chibok and Dapchi.
In his reply, Buhari said: “Chibok girls kidnap was before we came. We rescued some of them. The Dapchi girls were 106, we rescued 100, four died, one is still in captivity. We are very grateful to the United Nations Organisation that is acting as go-between and helping out. We have not given up on the Dapchi girl.”