LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Admitting Islamic extremists now control some of his nation’s villages and towns, Nigeria’s president declared a state of emergency Tuesday across in the nation’s troubled northeast, promising to send more troops to fight what is now an open rebellion.
President Goodluck Jonathan, speaking live across state radio and television networks, also warned that any building suspected to house Islamic extremists would be torn down in what he described as the “war” now facing Africa’s most populous nation. However, it remains unclear what the emergency powers will do to halt the violence, as a similar effort failed to stop the bloodshed.
“It would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan said the order affected Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. He said the states will receive more troops, but state politicians will remain in their posts. Under Nigerian law, the president has the power to remove politicians from their posts and install a caretaker government.
Since 2010, more than 1,600 people have been killed in attacks by Islamic insurgents, according to an Associated Press count. Recently, Nigeria’s military has said Islamic fighters now use anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks to fight the nation’s soldiers, likely outgunning the country’s already overstretched security forces.
Nigeria is also plagued by violence pitting different ethnic groups against each other in clashes in which dozens are killed at a time. Dozens of police officers and agents of the country’s domestic spy agency were recently slaughtered by a militia as well.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .