Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met Wednesday with northern elders on the menace of Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for a spate of deadly bomb and gun attacks especially in the city of Maiduguri.
“The president this afternoon held a broad-based consultation with leaders from Borno State, the North East and Arewa Consultative Forum on the security situation in Borno state and other parts of the north,” Information Minister Labaran Maku said.
The meeting explored different options to bring about peace and security in the beleaguered state and other affected areas in northern Nigeria, said the minister who briefed journalists after the meeting.
He did not give details.
The meeting, which he said was “very fruitful”, focused on finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram crisis, he said.
“All hands have to be on deck, political leaders, community leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders so that together, we can look at ways to bring about solution,” said Maku.
The minister said that it would be “premature” to withdraw troops Jonathan sent to Maiduguri last month to restore order in the troubled city.
Some residents of the city, politicians and political leaders have recently called for the withdrawal of the troops, which they, along with Amnesty International, accused of human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, rape and burning of houses.
Amnesty said 25 people were killed during a recent military raid.
It called for a probe into the killings.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) has denied the charges.
“There were broad based consultations about the outcry for the withdrawal of military. But in the light of this discussion, the meeting generally agreed that it is premature to withdraw the military,” the minister said.
“What was needed was that if there are cases of individual misbehaviour by members of the JTF, the authorities will look into those cases,” he said, adding that one or two soldiers who acted “in excess” were being questioned.
Authorities in the state at the weekend urged sect members to accept a ceasefire and embrace dialogue with government.
The sect has in recent weeks stepped up bomb and drive-by shooting attacks in the state capital Maiduguri which have claimed scores of lives.
Thousands of residents have fled the city in recent days over violence and alleged rights violations by soldiers.
The sect has concentrated the attacks in Maiduguri where the military onslaught against the sect took place.