A purported spokesman for Islamist group,
Boko Haram, has issued an ultimatum to
Christians in the country’s north and
threatened to confront troops after the
president declared a state of emergency in
hard hit areas.
Abul Qaqa, who has spoken on behalf of the
group blamed for scores of attacks in
numerous times in the past, said he was
giving southerners living in the north a
three-day ultimatum to leave.
“We find it pertinent to state that soldiers
will only kill innocent Muslims in the local
government areas where the state of
emergency was declared,” he told journalists
in a phone conference late Sunday.
“We would confront them squarely to protect
Speaking in the Hausa language common
throughout the north, Qaqa said “we also
wish to call on our fellow Muslims to come
back to the north because we have evidence
that they would be attacked.
“We are also giving a three-day ultimatum to
the southerners living in the northern part
of Nigeria to move away.”
Boko Haram is believed to include different
factions with varying aims, its structure
remains unclear and other people have
claimed to speak on its behalf.
Nigeria’s 160 million population is roughly
divided between a mainly Muslim north and
predominately Christian south.
Muslims have been victims of Boko Haram
attacks, but a wave of Christmas day
bombings particularly targeting churches set
off fears of retaliation from Christians.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state
of emergency on Saturday in parts of four
states hard hit by violence blamed on Boko
The declaration came in response to scores
of attacks attributed to Boko Haram,
particularly the bombings on Christmas that
killed 49 people, most of them in a gruesome
blast at a Catholic church as services were
Qaqa also criticised Jonathan over his visit
to a Catholic church outside Abuja on
Saturday. The church was the site of the
bloodiest Christmas day attack, with an
explosion killing 44 people there as
services were ending.
“The President had never visited any of the
theatres were Muslims were massacred,” he
said, naming areas where scores of Muslims
were killed in post-election riots in April.
While Boko Haram has been carrying out
increasingly deadly attacks for months,
including an August suicide bombing of UN
headquarters in Abuja that left 25 dead, the
Christmas violence sparked intense fear and
It also led to warnings from Christian
leaders that they would defend themselves if
such attacks continued, raising deep
While declaring the state of emergency in
Africa’s largest oil producer, Jonathan
acknowledged that the attacks “have
threatened our collective security and
shaken the foundations of our corporate
existence as a nation.”
It was declared in parts of the states of
Borno, where Boko Haram has traditionally
had its base, Niger, Plateau and Yobe.
In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the
capital of Borno state, residents reported
increased patrols on Monday. Soldiers had
been entering homes in search of weapons and
bombs, they said.
After the searches, soldiers told residents
to report any unusual behavior or abandoned
vehicles which may contain planted bombs.