Boko Haram: US Official Lists Ways To Assist Nigeria As Clinton Meets Jonathan

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pictured in South Africa on August 8. By Jacquelyn Martin (AFP/Pool/File) (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Nigeria’s president Thursday as the continent’s largest oil producer faces Boko Haram insurgency raising deep concern among Western powers.

Her visit to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and a major supplier of US oil imports, comes with President Goodluck Jonathan under growing pressure to stop the violence in the northern and central regions of the country.

Clinton was to offer help to Nigeria in boosting the country’s investigative and intelligence capabilities.

“(Clinton) will be renewing our offers of assistance and help to the Nigerians,” a senior State Department official said ahead of her meeting with Jonathan on the latest stage of an Africa tour.

“This is a problem for Nigeria, but also, northern Nigeria borders Cameroon, it borders Niger,” he said, expressing concern that a radical network could undermine the security of neighbouring states.

The US offer of assistance is to include helping to develop Nigeria’s forensics and investigative procedures, according to the official.

“We can help them develop mechanisms for tracking and determining individuals who are likely to be engaged in supporting Boko Haram actively,” the official said.

Washington would also be willing to help Nigeria develop an intelligence coordination centre that would assist the country in integrating information, the official said.

Some US lawmakers have been pushing President Barack Obama’s administration to label Boko Haram a terrorist group, but diplomats have resisted the designation, stressing it remains domestically focused.

In June, the United States labeled suspected Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and two other Nigerian militants “global terrorists,” allowing any US assets they may have to be blocked.

Shekau appeared in a video posted to YouTube last weekend dismissing the designation and criticising Jonathan.

Boko Haram’s targets have continually widened, with the group having moved from assassinations to increasingly sophisticated bombings, including suicide attacks.

Members are believed to have sought training in northern Mali from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Qaeda’s north African branch, and Western nations have been monitoring closely for signs of further links.

A senior US official said Thursday that Washington wants to encourage Nigeria to set up a “comprehensive programme in the north” that combined a security strategy with a socio-economic plan.

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