ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s president criticised his heads of security on Thursday for their handling of attacks across the north of the country and said more needs to be done to resolve the problem, the national security adviser said.
The comments attributed to Muhammadu Buhari are some of his sharpest criticisms of his security chiefs as the conflict in the north has steadily worsened through most of his five years as president.
Security forces in Nigeria, which plays a key role in maintaining stability in West Africa, have in recent months contended with deadly attacks by gunmen in the northwest and a spike in Islamist militants’ strikes in the northeast.
“Mr. President has expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country,” the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, told reporters after Buhari’s meeting with the security chiefs.
“He is extremely unhappy about what is happening,” said Monguno, adding: “He feels that, even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and wants an immediate reversal of the current trend.”
Jihadist group Boko Haram had been pushed off most of the land it controlled early in 2015, months before Buhari took office.
But the group continued to mount attacks in the northeast, as well as neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. A splinter faction that pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2016 has become the dominant force in the region.
Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 60 people on Sunday in the northeast’s Borno state, days after 69 others were killed in the northeast.
Residents in northwestern states have been attacked by gunmen who loot towns over the last two years. In May the United Nations said the violence forced 23,000 people to flee to neighbouring Niger within a few weeks.