Nigerian security risks hurting investment: president

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 5:54 PM
Nigerian security risks hurting investment: president

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's security challenges following bombings by a radical Islamist sect are holding back some foreign investment in the oil-rich country, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Monday.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sinful," has claimed responsibility for a series of recent bombings in Africa's most populous nation, including a blast last month at the U.N. headquarters in the capital which killed 23 people.

"We are worried about the security challenges we are now facing in the country because it is preventing investors coming into the country," the president said in an interview on local NTA television.

"I assure you this situation will be brought under control."

Boko Haram, which wants sharia law more widely applied across Africa's most populous nation, has rapidly become Jonathan's biggest security headache.

It has carried out almost daily shootings and attacks with homemade bombs against security services and civilians in its home base in the remote northeast.

Shooting was heard on Monday in Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state where the sect was founded. Earlier, gunmen bombed a police station and robbed a bank in the northern town of Misau, in a similar attack to others carried out by Boko Haram.

A flare-up in violence in the Nigeria's "Middle Belt," where the largely-Christian south meets the mostly-Muslim north, has added to Jonathan's security concerns.

Plateau state has been caught up in a spiral of tit-for-tat killings between Christian and Muslim gangs since the end of last month, when a group of youths attacked and killed several Muslims as they gathered for prayers at the end of Ramadan.

The U.N. human rights office has called on Nigeria to halt the violence in the central state, in which it said 70 people had been killed since early August.

The presidency said in a statement on Monday that Jonathan had directed his chief of defense, Air Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin, to take charge of the security situation in Plateau state.

The tensions in are rooted in competition for local political power and control of fertile farmlands, tensions which local government policies have done little to calm.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Additional reporting by Ibrahim Mshelizza in Maiduguri; Writing by Joe Brock)