Nigeria’s ex-national security adviser defended the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday, saying the previous government had acquired sophisticated weaponry and recaptured several northeastern territories from Boko Haram. Retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, who was fired by President Muhammadu Buhari last month, said the military under Jonathan’s watch also prevented Islamist militant leader Abubakar Shekau from disrupting the recent general elections, Nigerian newspapers reported.
“We utilized some of [this] equipment to recover more than 22 local governments under Boko Haram terrorists and ensured that Shekau did not disrupt the 2015 election as he had threatened. Not only did we ensure that the elections were peaceful, Shekau has never spoken to threaten anyone again since then,” Dasuki said in an interview with PRNigeria, which distributes statements for Nigerian security officials, the Premium Times newspaper reported.
In the past year, Dasuki said Jonathan’s administration facilitated the acquisition of massive weapons despite “Western powers” who denied Nigeria the equipment. These weapons, including fighter jets, assorted arms and ammunitions, sophisticated surveillance drones and mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, protected and aided Nigerian troops as they recovered local government areas occupied by Boko Haram. Dasuki said additional equipment already paid for by Jonathan’s administration would be delivered this year.
“All these were acquired in the last one year, after years of frustration by Western powers who denied us of the equipment and sabotaged our efforts to acquire same from other sources, which are reasons for some delay in delivery,” the sacked military official said Thursday, ThisDay reported.
Jonathan’s administration was widely criticized for acting too slowly in response to Boko Haram, an extremist group that has sought to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria for the past six years. Dasuki on Thursday called the criticism “baseless allegations” and said “we should be careful not to rubbish sensitive intuitions and their personnel that might still be in active service,” ThisDay reported.
Leading up to the March presidential polls, the Nigerian army claimed victories over the militants as Jonathan ran for re-election against Buhari, a former military ruler. Buhari beat Jonathan by a couple million votes, marking the first time that an incumbent lost the popular vote since democracy returned to the West African nation in 1999.
Since taking office in May, Buhari has replaced Nigeria’s top military commanders in an effort to clean up the army’s crooked image and confront the Boko Haram insurgency once and for all. Rights group Amnesty International released a comprehensive report in June that accused Nigeria’s military of systemic and horrific abuses and named nine senior figures as alleged perpetrators.