In what appears an admittance of Nigeria’s inability to deal with the terror group, Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the United States to send troops to take on the increasingly powerful sect.
In an interview with the U.S-based Wall Street Journal, Friday, the president said he had since 2014 appealed to the U.S. government for combat troops and military intelligence to help curb the menaces of Boko Haram, but that the US turned down his request.
The president said there was intelligence about Boko Haram insurgents, currently holding some parts of the North East, receiving training and funds from the Islamic State, the jihadist group whose leadership is based in Iraq and Syria.
Mr. Jonathan asked why the U.S. was withholding help to Nigerian when it is currently involved in the fight against ISIS, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Why can’t they come to Nigeria? They are our friends. If Nigeria has a problem, then I expect the US to come and assist us,” he said.
“Are they not fighting ISIS? Why can’t they come to Nigeria?” said the president.
The president’s claim about request for combat troops was, however, denied by the spokesperson for the United States’ military, John Kirby.
Mr. Kirby, a Rear Admiral, said the U.S. government had not received any request for troops from the Nigerian government.
He said there were no plans to unilaterally send troops to Nigeria, but added that the U.S. is discussing its participation in a multinational task force with African nations to assist Nigeria. The task force, he said, will be designed to help build up Nigeria’s own counterterrorism capabilities.
“These discussions are really just now starting,” Mr. Kirby was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying. “I can tell you that there are no plans as I speak here…unilaterally to send or to add U.S. troops into Nigeria. There are no U.S. troops operating in Nigeria.”
Although the U.S. has helped the Nigerian military with training, equipment and funds, recent allegations of human rights abuse and the refusal of the U.S. to sell Nigeria weapons, have prevented deeper ties between the two countries over Boko Haram.
In 2014, Washington refused to supply vital arms to Nigeria, citing human rights abuses.
Mr. Jonathan told the Wall Street Journal the allegations of human right abuses are overblown.
The president said despite the request for troops, the Nigerian military will retake all territories currently under Boko Haram control within eight weeks.
Within eight weeks, Mr. Jonathan said, “we will be able to take over all the territories that they are holding.”