Nigeria Unrest May Have External Influence as Militant Aide Dies

Nigeria has evidence that an insurgency in the country is being influenced by external forces, Vice President Namadi Sambo said, as the army announced a senior militant aide was found dead at the border with Niger.

“Nigerians know that these challenges are the product of shimmering and latent forces that want to abuse the expanded democratic states,” Sambo said today in a speech in the capital, Abuja, broadcast by state-run television station NTA.

“There is also evidence of external influence and radicalization that fuels insurgency,” he said, without elaborating.

President Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on May 14 to step up the fight against Islamist militants, whom he said were taking over parts of Borno. The armed forces of Africa’s largest oil producer then began an air and ground offensive against Boko Haram, which is seeking to impose Shariah law in the country.

Nigeria’s military discovered the body of a “close associate” of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau who had been crossing the border into neighboring Niger, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade, a military spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Two other militants were detained by a multinational task force, one of whom was confirmed as a Niger national, said Olukolade, without identifying any of the three.

Shekau said Boko Haram has scored successes against Nigeria’s military and has resisted offensives in some cases, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday, citing a video it had obtained.

‘Major Restraint’

Nigeria’s security forces have been accused by advocacy groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of committing human-rights violations in their fight against Boko Haram over the past three years.

“This administration has continued to meet these security challenges with major restraint and respect for the rights of citizens in affected communities,” Sambo said today.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the local Hausa language, has carried out gun and bomb attacks across Nigeria’s north and Abuja since police killed its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, while in custody in 2009. The group says it wants Islamic rule in Africa’s most-populous country, which is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

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