46% of Nigerians think senior govt officials behind extremist violence – Report

Remains of a mosque hit by a suspected female suicide bomber during an early morning prayer at Londonciki-Simari area of Maiduguri on Monday
Remains of a mosque hit by a suspected female suicide bomber during an early morning prayer at Londonciki-Simari area of Maiduguri on Monday (17/7/17). 03574/17/7/2017/Rabiu Sani/BJO/NAN

Some Nigerians think government officials at different levels in Nigeria give backing to extremist groups perpetuating violence attacks in the country, says a report by an international research group, Afrobarometer.

According to the report, 46 per cent of Nigerians polled by the group think that some senior officials in the federal government support extremist groups, while 33 per cent think that most, if not all of them, do so.

Seventeen per cent of the respondents think government officials do not offer such support to extremist groups.

The report, released on Wednesday, also said 46 per cent of respondents think that some members of the National Assembly give support to extremist groups in the country.

Forty-eight per cent of the respondents think some members of Nigeria’s military give support to extremist groups. The same percentage of the respondents think so of local government officials.

Forty-seven per cent think some traditional leaders do give support to extremist groups.

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Fifty-two per cent of the respondents, the highest, think most or all the extremist groups in Nigeria get support from international extremist groups.

Afrobarometer’s partners in Nigeria, CLEEN Foundation and Practical Sampling International, conducted the research between April 26 and May 10 2017, using random, stratified probability sample of 1,600 adult Nigerians, the report says.

According to the report, “Respondents were asked: How many of the following people do you think are involved in supporting and assisting the extremist groups that have launched attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria, or haven’t you heard enough about them to say?”

Thirty-one per cent of the respondents see unemployment or lack of opportunities as the reason Nigerians join extremist groups, while 11 per cent blame it on religious beliefs.

Thirty-nine per cent think government efforts in fighting armed extremist groups have been “somewhat effective”.

Fifty-three per cent rate government performance in preventing or resolving violence community conflict as being “very well or fairly well”.

According to the report, “Large majorities “agree” or “strongly agree” that the army keeps the country safe from insurgents (83%), gets necessary training to defend and protect the country (82%), and operates in a professional manner (77%).

“Nigerians say the best ways for the government to effectively address the problem of armed extremists are to improve the economy/create jobs and to strengthen the military response.”

For several years now, Nigeria has been struggling to contend Boko Haram insurgency which has led to thousands of deaths, especially in the North-east of the country. Many Nigerians have also been killed through violent herder-farmer clashes.

A former Nigerian defence minister, Theophilus Danjuma, recently accused the military and police of being complicit in the killings across the country.

“The armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians,” Mr Danjuma had said.

The military, apart from denying the accusation, set up a panel to probe the allegation.

The panel is yet to finish its investigation.

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