Nigeria’s campaign against Islamist Boko Haram insurgents is being hampered by “cowards” in its armed forces, its presidential security adviser said in a rare public sign of high-level unhappiness with the effort.
Boko Haram’s bloody uprising to carve out a breakaway Islamic caliphate has seized much of Nigeria’s northeast and poses the worst threat to Africa’s most populous state and biggest energy producer and at least three of its neighbors.
Boko Haram claimed a Jan. 3 attack on the town of Baga that killed scores, possibly hundreds, of civilians and left the jihadists in control of the headquarters of a regional multinational force including troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Nigerian soldiers fled the area after Baga was overrun. It was the latest Boko Haram success to cast doubt on the commitment of some in the military, and 22 officers including a brigadier general are on trial over alleged sabotage in the war effort.
“Unfortunately we have a lot of cowards. We have people who use every excuse in this world not to fight,” Sambo Dasuki, the top security adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, told an audience at the Chatham House think-tank in London on Thursday.