Boko Haram: Jonathan, 6 ECOWAS Leaders Meet


President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterparts in six other countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region, will attend an emergency meeting convened by President John Dramani Mahama in Accra today.

The crucial meeting is part of ongoing concerted war against Islamist insurgents, Boko Haram, wreaking havoc in parts of northern Nigeria.

Although others may confirm later, a source from the corridors of power at the Flagstaff House, Kanda, told the Ghana News Agency on Thursday that, Presidents Ernest Bai Koromah of Sierra Leone, Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin, and Mr. Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, have already expressed their readiness to attend.

The source named Presidents Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Alassane Quattara of  Cote d’Ivoire, Macky Sall of Senegal, and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, as others to attend the Accra meeting.

Although no definite agenda had been rolled out for the one-day emergency meeting, GNA gathered that it would centre on the menace of Boko Haram in Nigeria, where over 200 school girls are being held hostage, and security measures that would ward off imminent attacks on the sub-region.

They would also discuss matters of urgent and mutual concerns in the West African sub-region, especially the situation in Mali.

President Mahama is expected to set the tone for the meeting, to pave way for a closed door-session that would give the leaders the opportunity to brainstorm on measures to curb emerging security challenges in the sub-region.

He is also expected to roll out his programme towards the betterment of the community during his tenure of office.

The meeting would serve as his first official assignment since his assumption of the Chairmanship of ECOWAS.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram gunmen killed 35 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria’s restive northeast Borno state near the border with Cameroon, a military source and residents said Thursday.

Dozens of Boko Haram gunmen dressed in military uniform stormed Gumushi, Amuda and Arbokko in all-terrain trucks and motorcycles, opening fire on residents and torching homes with petrol bombs, they said.

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“Boko Haram attacked the three villages Wednesday morning in which 35 people were killed, including 26 in Gumushi,” a military officer in the state capital Maiduguri told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The insurgents hurled petrol bombs into homes, setting them ablaze and shot residents as they tried to escape,” he said.

He said the gunmen raided Gumushi around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) where they killed 26 residents.

Local media, however, put the death toll in Gumushi at 42.

Witnesses said the gunmen also launched coordinated attacks on the neighbouring farming villages of Amuda and Arbokko, 125 kilometres from Maiduguri, killing nine people and destroying scores of houses.

“The attackers came at 2:00am (01:00 GMT) when people were asleep and went about throwing Molotov cocktails into homes which exploded and set fire,” resident Pirda Takweshe told AFP.

“They then opened fire on people as they ran out of their homes, killing nine and injuring 13 others”.

Boko Haram which means “Western education is forbidden”, has stepped up deadly raids in northeast Nigeria in recent months, pillaging and burning entire villages and killing residents as part of its five-year-old campaign to establish an Islamic state in the north.

Violence blamed on the Islamist group has killed thousands since 2009.

News of the latest deadly raids came on the same day as Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan vowed a “total war against terrorism”.