Nigeria president to attend France's Boko Haram summit

The summit will be attended by leaders of Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Nigeria president to attend France's Boko Haram summit

World Bulletin / News Desk

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will travel to France on Friday to attend a regional summit hosted by French President Francois Hollande to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group.

"President Jonathan will be joined at the summit by Heads of State and Government of Benin Republic, Cameroon, Niger and Chad," Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president, said in a statement mailed to Anadolu Agency.

The Nigerian leader will be accompanied by Minister of Defense Aliyu Gusau, National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki and other top aides.

"It is also expected that Britain, the U.S. and the European Union will be represented at the talks," Abati said.

He said the summit will focus on coordination and intensification of efforts "to curtail the destabilizing activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries in the wake of the recent abduction of college girls from Chibok, Borno State."

On April 14, Boko Haram militants stormed a school in Chibok, located on the fringes of Sambisa Forest, loading scores of schoolgirls onto trucks before driving away unchallenged.

The exact number of abducted schoolgirls, however, still remains dogged by controversy.

In a 17-minute video released on Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to exchange the kidnapped girls for Boko Haram militants held by Nigerian authorities.

At least four countries, including the U.S. and Britain, are currently assisting in search and rescue efforts.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.

The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.

In the five years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for numerous attacks – on places of worship and government institutions – and thousands of deaths.

Nigeria legislature approves extended emergency rule in north

Nigeria's House of Representatives on Thursday gave its nod to a request by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend a state of emergency in the northeast region by another six months.

The approval by the 360-member lower house of the parliament was reached just hours after the 109-member upper house – the Senate – deferred debates on the matter to next Tuesday to allow for "more consultations by stakeholders."

House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal announced the decision shortly after the body held a closed-door meeting with the country's security chiefs who had earlier met the senators.

Tambuwal announced the decision "after a robust" debate on the topic, following which a voice vote was taken in which those for the extension carried the day.

Jonathan has formally asked parliament to extend the current state of emergency in the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe by a further six months.

This decision came as a surprise given the configuration of the House, where the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) maintains only a slight majority over the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which has yet to speak on the president's request but had in the past rejected it.

It is not immediately clear why the House - despite its higher volatility compared to the Senate - quickly arrived at a decision when their colleagues in the upper House were yet to decide.

Jonathan's PDP currently has 174 of the 360 seats in the House against APC's171. Other fringe parties share the remainder.

With opposition mounting in the senate against the president's decision, it is not clear what the outcome of their vote will be next Tuesday.

A no-vote in the Senate - though unlikely - would force a harmonization of positions between both arms of Nigeria's bicameral legislature before a final decision is reached.

Section 305 of the constitution empowers the president to declare emergency rule in any part of the country where there is breakdown of law, subject to approval by the parliament.

Unlike in ministerial and ambassadorial screenings where the Senate has exclusive jurisdiction, both arms of the legislature are given the responsibility to approve or reject emergency rule. The same rule applies to budget approval.

The three-state emergency was initially declared in May of last year in hopes it would curb an ongoing Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of people since 2009.

It is the second time Jonathan has called for extending the state of emergency after making a similar request last November.

Another six-month extension will expire in November, only three months before general elections slated for February of next year.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2014, 11:18