The Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram may be receiving funding from foreign governments, revealed Babajimi Benson, the Chairman of the Nigerian House Committee on Defense, on Wednesday.
Last week, an emergency meeting with military chiefs was called in response to the continued threat and instability posed by Boko Haram across Nigeria, after the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for all their resignations.
Speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting, Benson admitted that “there could be some truth” to allegations that foreign powers are funding a Boko Haram insurgency across the country. However, he stressed that further details or suspicions of suspected countries would remain private.
“There is probably an international dimension to what we see. There is ISIS, there is ISWAP [ISIS West Africa]. These are things that we need to discuss in a very classified manner,” he explained. “But what we want Nigerians to know is that we are committed to them, 100 percent, to see that we assist the military and the armed forces and ensuring that this matter is put to an end within the shortest possible time.”
“We were to a large extent satisfied with what they said. Like I said, we are also going to table what they said before parliament,” he continued. “We are going to discuss; we are going to have a very robust discussion on how to assist, to end this war. It is Nigeria that is at war.”
Benson did not specifically name any individual governments that may be funding Boko Haram.
Asked if the decision to not sack any of the military chiefs represented a U-turn on the House of Representatives’ resolution, Benson pointed out that the “decision lies with the executive.”
“It is not a U-turn but the most important thing that Nigerians want is the security of their lives and for their properties to be protected. Sacking the service chiefs is what we can suggest, but it is a function of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; the buck stops at his table,” he said.
Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila told journalists following the meeting that the military chiefs had been asked to explain why their constituents are “dying callously in ways that you can just imagine if there’s no security.”
“This is one of those meetings which, like I said, is going to be continuous and to find out exactly what is going on, what the issues are and what the problems are,” said Gbajabiamila. “We know what the basic problems are. We know our committees are capable of handling these issues. Therefore, solutions to insecurity in the country must be thought of outside the box by taking the fight to these criminals.”
Nigerian military chiefs have repeatedly made false claims about the success of their operations and the strength of Boko Haram. On one occasion, the military mistakenly bombed a refugee camp hosting the group’s victims. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has periodically declared victory over the organization, only for them to continue staging brutal attacks and methods of operation shortly afterward.
The organization has carried out multiple resurgences in recent years including dozens of attacks, kidnappings, and other crimes against humanity, with a particular emphasis on Christian communities. Last July, they carried out an attack on a funeral ceremony in northeastern Nigeria that left 65 people dead. In November, a report from the United Nations found that around 1.2 million Nigerians are living in areas controlled by Boko Haram, while around 35,000 people have lost their lives at the hands of the caliphate.