Kerry warns against military crackdowns in Nigeria

2016-08-23 21:05
US Secretary of State John Kerry. (Sayyid Abdul Azim, AP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry. (Sayyid Abdul Azim, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sokoto - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday congratulated Nigeria on its recent military successes against Boko Haram, but warned the country will face a blowback if it "cracks down" on the Islamists with excessive force.

Speaking at a press conference in the northern city of Sokoto, Kerry praised Nigeria for reclaiming swathes of territory from Boko Haram and releasing thousands of hostages over the past year.

Nigeria has made "important progress", Kerry said. "Nigeria and its neighbours are degrading Boko Haram's capabilities."

But Kerry cautioned against a heavy-handed response and emphasised respect for human rights.

"In the wake of terrorist activity, some are tempted to crack down on anyone and everyone," Kerry said.

"But extremism can't be defeated through repression or fear. Fear instilled through repression invites not confidence but contempt," Kerry said, "it creates terrorists".

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Nigerian troops of excessive force and extra-judicial killings of suspected Boko Haram insurgents, hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims and pro-Biafra protesters. The military has denied the charges.

On his third visit to Nigeria in less than two years, Kerry met with traditional and religious leaders, including Sokoto Sultan Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar.


Kerry appealed to Nigerians to practise equality and tolerance to "overcome deep-seated ethnic and religious divisions".

His remarks come one day after police reported that a Muslim mob in northern Nigeria killed eight people after torching the house of a Muslim man who stood up for a Christian student accused of blasphemy.

Kerry is due to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari later on Tuesday in the Nigerian capital of Abuja as part of a three-nation tour focussed on counterterrorism.

The top US diplomat, who was in Kenya on Monday, is expected to discuss the Boko Haram insurgency, fighting corruption and boosting Nigeria's moribund economy that has been pummelled by the drop in global oil prices.

In its quest to create a fundamentalist Islamic state Boko Haram has killed more than 20 000 people and displaced 2.6 million from their homes.

With homes and businesses destroyed and farmland devastated, the United Nations has warned that about 50 000 children could starve to death this year in Borno state alone if nothing is done.

Earlier in August the US government pledged $37m in aid for victims of Boko Haram as fears of a famine mounted in the ravaged Lake Chad region.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  john kerry  |  nigeria  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.