Nigeria is opposed to the U.S. State Department listing Boko Haram as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" for a number of reasons, Ambassador Ade Adefuye said at a symposium of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos.
After briefing the symposium about U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Nigeria, Adefuye said the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan believed that the U.S. administration adding Boko Haram to its FTO list would, first and foremost, embolden the organization by elevating its terrorist status worldwide, the Vanguard newspaper reported.
Adefuye said a second concern of Nigerian government officials was that designating Boko Haram as an FTO entity would subject Nigerian visitors to the United States to increased scrutiny, embarrassment and humiliation from U.S immigration authorities.
Another concern of the Nigerian administration was that by labeling Boko Haram as a terrorist organization could lead to the United States using unmanned aerial vehicles to attack Boko Haram's leadership and members.
"We know from the experience of Afghanistan and Pakistan, such unmanned drones could lead to destruction of villages and people who are not directly involved in the activities of Boko Haram," Adefuye said.
"We believe that Nigeria has the capacity to contain the threats of Boko Haram; we have dealt with a more complex threat represented by the Niger Delta militancy, which (directly) threatened the economic interests of America."
Adefuye was referring to Abuja's struggle against the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which waged a guerrilla campaign against the central government and foreign oil companies in the country's oil-rich Niger Delta, seeing the region as unfairly exploited. A recent amnesty and retaining program has greatly reduced violence there.
The Jonathan administration's campaign against Boko Haram's Islamic insurgency in the country's north is different. The Nigerian government first attempted to destroy the Islamic militant Boko Haram group in 2009, the year before Jonathan assumed power.
During the campaign Boko Haram's headquarters in the Borno state capital Maiduguri was destroyed and their founder and leader Muhammad Yusuf captured and died in the security force's custody.
After hundreds of Boko Haram members died during the government's military campaign, survivors have been attacking government targets in retaliation even as the Jonathan administration has continued to try and quell the movement.
Boko Haram's objectives differ greatly from MEND, as the organization has said that it is battling to implement strict Islamic Shariah law across Nigeria, something that is hardly likely to appease the fears of Nigeria's Christians, estimated to be 40 percent of the nation's population, as opposed to the 50 percent who profess Islam.
The government certainly doesn't downplay the seriousness of the threat posed by Boko Haram. In discussing the threat posed by Boko Haram, Nigerian Defense Minister Bello Haliru Mohammed told the BBC during an interview, "We are in a position now like the United States was in after 9/11."
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