The United States Congress, has held an official hearing on the Boko Haram attacks against Christians in Nigeria and other security challenges facing the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, with a view to proffering technical support and advice to combat the menace.
During the session, witnesses at the congressional subcommittee hearing raised the momentum of discussion on the continuing attacks by terrorists on Christians in Nigeria and ways that the United States could respond to the violence.
Contributing to the debate on the matter, Congressman Chris Smith, who chairs the US House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, said ongoing attacks on Christians by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, are “unprovoked and unconscionable.”
Smith conducted a July 10 hearing before the subcommittee to examine US policy towards Nigeria in the light of violence against Christians and ethnic minorities, as well as other political and social problems in the country.
Stressing that stability and rule of law in Nigeria were critical for the entire region and the globe, Smith highlighted the country’s importance as Africa’s largest democracy, most populous nation and largest oil producer.
He explained that Boko Haram – a militant Islamic group in the country – had been carrying out attacks against the Christian community and was reportedly involved with rebels and terrorist groups including al-Qaeda and possibly the Taliban.
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, testified at the hearing, recognising that Boko Haram “has created widespread insecurity across northern Nigeria, inflamed tensions between various communities, disrupted development activities and frightened off investors.”
He said that the US government recently designated three leaders of Boko Haram as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” in order to help “expose and isolate” the group’s most dangerous leaders.
However, President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, argued that the US had not done enough to oppose the violence.
Oritsejafor lamented that despite the designation of individual terrorists, the US State Department had refused to designate the group as a “foreign terrorist organisation.”
“It is hypocritical for the United States and the international community to say that they believe in freedom and equality, when their actions do not support those who are being persecuted,” he said.
Oritsejafor also rejected the idea that Boko Haram is “fragmented and disorganised.”