Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has addressed demands by terrorist organisation Boko Haram that he resign and “forsake Christianity”, saying he would neither step down from power nor change his religion.
The sect in a new video posted on YouTube had rained insults on the Presidency and made the demands as a condition for ceasefire, further ruling out dialogue with the Federal Government. However, the President responded through his spokesman, Reuben Abati, dismissing the demands of the sect as “rude and a mere blackmail”.
The exchange between the President and the terrorist sect happened even as insurgents launched multiple attacks in Yobe state capital, Damaturu, killing five soldiers and destroying property on Sunday.
Boko Haram, “Western education is sin”, has long evaded dialogue with the Federal Government even as it waged an increasingly violent insurgency in the nation’s north, killing over 1,500 since 2009. It is not clear what the real demands of the group are and President Jonathan has been recorded as saying he “will not dialogue with a faceless sect”.
A common face for the sect is Imam Abubakar Shekau, spiritual leader for Boko Haram. In his latest video message, Shekau launched a 38 minute long verbal assault of the Nigerian president and his US counterpart, President Barack Obama, who he slammed over the decision of the US to label him a “global terrorist” in June. He called on both leaders to “abandon ungodly power”.
Abati, addressing journalists in Abuja, dismissed the demands, saying: “The President cannot be intimidated by any group or individual. The President will never resign. He has the mandate of Nigerians to serve his father land and nobody should imagine that he will succumb to blackmail.”
He further called it laughable that the group will demand the resignation of a president that was elected to power by a wide range of Nigerians.
“When Nigerians voted overwhelmingly for President Jonathan in the 2011 general election, they knew they were voting for a Christian.
“He continues to enjoy the goodwill and support of the good people of Nigeria. As President, Dr. Jonathan is the leader of both Muslims and Christians; in fact; he is the leader of persons of all faiths.
“So, it amounts to sheer blackmail for any individual or group to ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to convert to Islam.”