From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
As the Federal Government weakens Boko Haram, United States yesterday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to sustain the momentum.
Washington has urged the President to put more pressure on Boko Haram to ensure the insurgents do not regroup even as the country distanced herself from the Nigerian government negotiations with the group that led to the release of 21 Chibok girls recently.
United States Under-Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Sarah Sewall, told Daily Sun in Maiduguri that the Buhari administration has made progress in the fight against Boko Haram, but Washington wants the Federal Government to step up pressure on the terrorists.
“From our experiences, insurgency and terrorist groups can be very resilient, can move and again reconstitute themselves. So, it’s absolutely critical that both federal and state levels of governments partner very closely the military campaigns to ensure they can provide security, services and good governance for the country as Boko Haram is pushed out particularly in the neighborhoods. At the same time, Nigeria needs to put pressure on Boko Haram,” Sewall said.
She said the United States which claimed not to be disposed to negotiation with terror groups, would not comment on how Nigeria secured the release of her citizenry abducted by terrorists but would rather support the country’s efforts at getting rid of all forms of terrorism acts.
“We’re doing what we can in supporting Nigeria through the military efforts; military partnership which include providing information. We’ve been engaged in the training of the Nigerian Army. We’re pleased to be partners with the Nigerian military,” she noted.
She said though Boko Haram came and started before the Syrian-based ISIS, the U.S. was aware of the grave implication of Boko Haram allegiance with the international terrorism group.
On the post-insurgency assessment in the northeast, Sewall described the humanitarian situation as huge. She said Americans all over the world have been watching the situation in the North-east, Nigeria with great concern, but were possibly unsure of the extent of the challenges.
“We know that people have suffered greatly from Boko Haram. We also know that the military has recorded great success and clearing areas in the northeast where there were great security challenges associated with Boko Haram which we understand, now resulted into huge humanitarian crisis here.
“It has been very useful to talk to those who have been displaced or those who were captured by Boko Haram to those who are seeking to restore services and security in the areas that have been cleared and the enormous challenges that still lie ahead. I think there is message of hope. Progress has been made and I’m convinced that the world needs to pay attention to the humanitarian situation in Borno,” she said.
Two weeks ago, the Federal Government, through the Internal Red Cross Society and Switzerland secured the released of 21 Chibok girls.
The government said efforts were ongoing to secure freedom for about 200 girls who were abducted by Boko Haram from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibol, Borno State in April 2014.
The freed girls’ welfare had been taken over by government. They were hosted by President Buhari last week.