By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Charles Kumolu
WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Donald Trump of the United States of America, yesterday, warned that his government would not tolerate continued religious killings in Nigeria.
Trump said: “We are deeply concerned by the religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches and killing of Christians. We encourage Nigeria and the federal, local, and state governments to do everything to immediately secure the communities and protect innocent civilians, including Muslims and Christians.”
President Donald Trump of United States (l) pose while President Muhammadu Buhari signs visitors book at the White House in Washington DC on Monday
President Buhari assured the American President that efforts were being made to ensure that killings in the country, which he insisted was caused by militia trained by the late former Libyan President, Muammar Gadaffi, were stopped.
Trump issued made the remark as the two leaders met yesterday in the White House where they also discussed issues on security and the need to have better working relationship between Nigeria and the United States.
Trump said: “We have met before; we have a great relationship. I look forward to our discussions today again, especially as it relates to terrorism. Terrorism here, terrorism all over the world is a hotbed and we are going to stop it.
“Also, we have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria; we are going to work on that problem very, very hard because we cannot allow that to happen.”
Commenting on the activities of ISIS, President Trump said: “We are very much dealing with ISIS, especially in the last one month.”
He then inquired from President Buhari the efforts his government was making to tackle Boko Haram and the release of the abducted school girls kidnapped in Chibok, and Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in custody of Boko Haram.
After a closed-door meeting between the two leaders, President Trump said efforts are being made to remove trade barriers between the two countries and called on Nigeria to support the US in the bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
Responding, President Buhari said it is a privilege and honour to be invited by the American President and also showed appreciation to the government of the United States, especially with regards to military assistance.
He said people should not underrate what happened in Libya, especially in the wake of the herdsmen rampage but noted that he is doing his best to stop the killings, although it is taking time.
Buhari, who noted that there were efforts to stabilize security in the country said: “We appreciate the commitment of the United States to get rid of terrorism; we are very grateful for it.
“I don’t think we should underrate terrorists from Libya. With the death of Gaddafi, people were being recruited from the Sahel, because this is the only training they have.
“We are doing our best to make sure we stop the cross-border movement and so on. It will take time. We are happy with the United States for trying to see the end of ISIS. You know the Boko Haram in Nigeria had at a time, made a statement that they belong to ISIS.
“Now that ISIS has been virtually ruined, we are happy with that. We are stabilizing the situation in Nigeria.”
On Trump’s call for rescue of Chibok and Dapchi school girls, President Buhari said: “Chibok girls kidnap was before we came into power. We rescued some of them. The Dapchi girls were 106, we rescued 100 back, four died, one is still in captivity. We are very grateful to the United Nations for helping out. We have not given up on the Dapchi girl.”
“My administration is committed to stopping kidnapping of young girls and trafficking; killing of Christians and burning of churches in Nigeria is a horrible story.”
Meanwhile, both the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and a pro-Buhari group were at the White House to protest the Federal Government’s opposition to emergence of the state of Biafra.
Herdsmen carried only sticks, machetes historically, not AK-47— Buhari
The President also said hitherto in Nigeria, herdsmen did not carry guns, noting that they only wield sticks and machetes occasionally.
His words: “The problem of herders in Nigeria is a very long historical thing. The Nigerian herders don’t carry anything more than a stick and occasionally a matchete to cut down foliage and give it to their animals. These ones are carrying AK-47.
“People should not underrate what happened in Libya. 43 years of Gaddafi, people were recruited from the Sahel and trained to shoot and kill. With the demise of Gaddafi, they moved to other countries and regions and carried the experience with them.
“We are grateful to the United States for agreeing to give us the aircraft that we asked for. We are even more grateful for the physical presence of the United States military officials in Nigeria.
“The commitment of the United States to get rid of terrorism across the world, we have fast earned experience from that and we are grateful for it.”
Trump commends Nigeria, plans more investments
On his part, Trump said: We would be investing substantially in Nigeria. We want to thank Nigeria’s President for his fight against terrorism. He has been a real leader. Nigeria is one of the first African nations to join other nations to defeat ISIS and Nigerian forces are currently leading regional efforts against ISIS in West Africa.
“Nigeria is also leading African nations in the fight against Boko Haram, another ruthless Jihadist terrorist group. We have been reading about them and they kidnapped girls and young women, many of whom are not seen again.
“I was deeply touched by the resilience of Joy and Lilian, who I interviewed and I told them my administration is very much concerned about combating both jihadist terrorism and human trafficking. In the world today there is more human trafficking than it was before. They use the internet better than anybody can use them.
“To protect Americans from these menaces, I have called on the Congress to close deadly immigration loopholes that are exploited by terrorists, traffickers, and criminals. Just look at our borders that are weak and obsolete laws. They are obsolete, weak and pathetic and there is no country that has laws as we do.
“We are also helping our Nigerian partners by facilitating intelligence, co-operation and providing training and military equipment to Nigerian forces. For example, we recently sold Nigeria 12 US A29 super catena aircraft. This is the first ever sale of the American military weapon to Nigeria. This new aircraft will help Nigeria to target terrorists and protect civilians.”
Trump promises speedy release of aircraft
President Trump also assured the federal government of speedy release of the 12 counter insurgency aircraft worth $496 million to enable it fight Boko Haram. Recall that the US had previously refused to sell military aircraft to Nigeria, citing human rights concerns.
The White House recently sold 12 counter insurgency aircraft worth to Nigeria which has been a subject of controversy between the presidency and the legislature.