Nigeria has joined the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, according to President Muhammadu Buhari, who two weeks ago reportedly turned down the offer.
During a visit to Saudi Arabia a fortnight ago, the President was quoted by an Aso Rock statement as declining an invitation from King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz to join the group, saying that “even if we are not a part of it, we support you.”
However, in an interview aired at the weekend on international television channel, Aljazeera, Buhari said Nigeria just have to be part of the coalition as the terrorists causing carnage in Nigeria claim to be Muslims.
“We are part of it because we have got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claim that they are Islamic. So, if there is an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism.”
He declined to disclose how the coalition will operate, noting that “under Lake Chad Basin Commission, our regional grouping compromising Cameroun, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin have dedicated a certain number of troops to be deployed in our own sub-region and I don’t think we have to tell the press the details of that.”
Asked how Nigeria’s membership of the group would help the country’s security, he declared: “Certainly. I’ve just told you it is the Boko Haram itself that declared loyalty to ISIS.
“ISIS is basically based in Islamic countries. Now, if there’s a coalition to fight Islamic terrorism, why can’t Nigeria be part of it, while those that are fighting in Nigeria as Boko Haram claim to be Muslims? But the way they are doing it is anti-Islamic.”
Reminded that Nigeria is evenly divided between Muslims and Christians and those the latter are complaining about being dragged into an Islamic coalition and gradually the religious identity of the country, Buhari replied that the complainants can go fight the terrorists if they choose to instead.