By Jim Kouri
The Nigerian president, after firing his top defense commander and his national security chief, told his people that he was seeking a new direction in fighting the nation’s most powerful and deadly terrorist organization.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated Boko Haram has been fighting a bloody war against the Nigerian government for well over a year. Several Nigerian military operations have failed to stop the violence, that includes bombings and terror attacks against Christian churches.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued a statement on Friday saying his two top security chiefs had been dismissed but didn’t elaborate as to why he canned them except to say that he was seeking new tactics.
“We think some new persons have to come in to change tactics in our fight against terrorism…. It’s not that they were not working but just that we need to change tactics,” Jonathan said in a statement on Sunday.
Boko Haram, which is based in the country’s northeast section, has all but annihilated other terrorist groups in the oil-producing southern Southern region and has become Nigeria’s most pressing security threat.
Other militant groups surrendered their weapons in return for amnesty in 2009. However, the Nigerian government and Boko Haram failed to reach any agreement to meet and discuss peace terms, according to a U.S. House of Representatives report.
“Boko Haram has no face and government will not dialogue with a faceless people. They must come out and tell us why they are doing what they are doing,” said President Jonathan’s statement.
Gun battles and bomb attacks initiated by Boko Haram have killed hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians since the terrorist group began its attacks. It claims it is fighting to create a separate Islamic state in part of Nigeria.
The Nigerian nation is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. Attacks on Christian churches intensified recently with Boko Haram claiming it’s driving out the religion of Africa’s former European masters.
Last Christmas, according to a report from the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, Boko Haram had “intensified its campaign of terrorism, including detonating a vehicle borne improvised explosive device at a Catholic church” during a Christmas Day mass.