Nigerian gov’t hits back at ex-leader over Boko Haram

Information minister says remarks of former president Olusegun Obasanjo ‘divisive and mischievous'

Rafiu Ajakaye   | 21.05.2019
Nigerian gov’t hits back at ex-leader over Boko Haram

LAGOS Nigeria 

Boko Haram is a “terror group” with its members killing Muslims more than any other faith community, the Nigerian government said on Tuesday.

The militants have neither allegiance to any faith nor sympathy for anybody, regardless of their backgrounds, Information Minister Lai Mohamed said in what was a direct response to a recent remarks of former President Olusegun Obasanjo accusing Boko Haram and Fulani herders of imposing an Islamic agenda in Nigeria.

"The federal government described former President Obasanjo's comments imputing ethno-religious motive to Boko Haram [and Daesh] as deeply offensive and patently divisive. Such indiscreet comments are far below the status of an elder statesman," Mohamed said in a written statement.

In local media, Obasanjo was cited as saying that both Boko Haram and Fulani herders had an agenda to impose Islam and Fulani hegemony on the country -- a claim that has drawn criticisms across the West African country.

Mohamed called Obasajo's remarks “divisive and mischievous” and could ignite crisis in a diverse society like Nigeria.

The ethnic Fulani tribe semi-nomadic herdsmen, whose primary occupation is to raise livestock, claim the farmers try to steal their animals and allegedly attack them while they migrate to the south.

Most of its herders are alleged to be behind the herders-farmers' crisis.

"Since the Boko Haram crisis, which has been simmering under the watch of Obasanjo, boiled over in 2009, the terrorist organization has killed more Muslims than adherents of any other religion, blown up more mosques than any other houses of worship and is not known to have spared any victim on the basis of their ethnicity.

"It is therefore absurd to say that Boko Haram and its ISWAP [affiliated with Daesh] variant have as their goal the 'Fulanization and Islamization' of Nigeria, West Africa or Africa," Mohamed said.

The Muslim population in Nigeria has a slight majority over the substantial Christian population which holds majority especially in the southern region.

On Monday, Sule Lamido, an ally of the former president called Obasanjo’s statement "very disappointing", and warned the octogenarian to not become another ethno-religious bigot.

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