President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday had an emergency meeting with service chiefs over the killing of 50 students of the College of Agriculture in Yobe State.
Jonathan disclosed this while fielding questions during the Presidential Media Chat broadcast live on television stations. He had earlier at the 53rd Independence Anniversary Interdenominational Church Service at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, admitted that activities of the sect were depressing him and his administration.
He said after meeting with the service chiefs, he directed them to meet and come up with ideas on how to step up the efforts aimed at curbing the attacks and killings by the insurgents which he described as “ embarrassing.”
The President said, “Like I said earlier today (Sunday), sometimes one needs a lot of courage to move on. My seat as the President can be very hot and can also be very cold.
“I held a meeting with service chiefs on the killings of students in Yobe State before coming for this media chat. We discussed and resolved that we must do more.
“You will agree with me that incidence of attacks came down after I declared state of emergency in some states but it is coming up again. I have asked the service chiefs to meet again now and see what we can do to stop these embarrassing attacks.”
When asked to respond to allegations that operatives of the State Security Service killed innocent people alleged to be members of Boko Haram at the Apo Legislative Quarters in Abuja, the President said there was enough reason to believe that those shot were suspected terrorists.
Jonathan, who added that some of those arrested had made confessional statements, said that security agencies had even foiled several plots by insurgents to bomb Abuja this month.
He said, “I have been briefed about it and people have made confessional statements. That is why I say sometimes, some of these people who call for probe don’t mean well for this country. And I always say that when there are confrontations between certain operatives and criminals in a place where people live, maybe one or two people who may be innocent probably might be affected during the exchange of fire. But definitely, there were Boko Haram elements among them .
Again, if you monitor global trend, there was this feeling about Al-Qeada network having links with Al-Shabab and Boko Haram because these criminal gangs have networks. And the feeling was that in September, they would bomb many cities across the world to commemorate 9/11. It happened in many parts of the world. What happened in Nairobi, Kenya, is being linked to that and people attempted to also bomb Abuja in September.
“Some were arrested and some were killed but people confessed. There were obviously Boko Haram elements among them.”
At the Independence anniversary church service tagged “Living with certainty in uncertain times,” the President said he lacked words and courage to explain to the bereaved families, and indeed Nigerians, what happened to the College of Agriculture students on Sunday.
While describing Boko Haram activities and other challenges facing his administration as creations of the devil meant to slow him down, Jonathan vowed that the insurgents would not succeed.
He pledged that although forces of evil would continue to attempt to drag the nation back, he would leave the country better than he met it.
He said, “Today, you will agree with me that if you were in my shoes, you will lack words to say. We had this programme in mind when we went to bed last night that by this time, we would all gather here to thank God for what he has done for this great country.
“But then, only a few minutes after midnight, reports came in that about 21 students were murdered in Yobe State by a group that described themselves as Boko Haram.
“If you are wearing my shoes, what courage will you have to stand here before Nigerians? What message will you send to Nigerians and the parents of these people, our future leaders, students of a college of agriculture?
“Will you say that the killing of these students is political? The students belonged to which political group? People who killed them don’t even know them. Will you say it is ethnic cleansing? They belonged to which ethnic group in Nigeria?
“Will you say it was based on religious belief or what? These killed students, are they Christians, Muslims or what? This is the situation almost on a daily basis. It’s quite depressing!
“But having listened to the message of the CAN President (Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor), you will agree with me that all of us have hope. By God’s grace, we will get to where we want to get to as a nation.
“The journey of a nation is just like the journey of an individual. We will encounter obstacles. Sometimes, it gets darker when you are getting nearer. The challenges we are seeing now are very transient and we will surely get over them.
“No Boko Haram or any group can suffer this country. We may suffer pains just like Jesus Christ said at critical moment that though the spirit is willing, the body is weak.
“I believe these challenges are the creations of the devil to slow down our development as a nation but we have reached the turning point where we must all move to join the developed society.”