The Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Lateef Adegbite, on Thursday pleaded with the United States not to label the Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram, a terrorist group. But the deed may already have been done.
Adegbite, who spoke with reporters at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said since Nigerians are doing everything possible to address the matter through dialogue. America should move with caution.
Further, it would be difficult for the American government to know the members of the sect, adding that any action precipitously carried out, could have serious repercussions.
“How do (the Americans) know who is Boko Haram and who is not? … They may see someone like me with my long beard and think I am Boko Haram,” he said, half in jest.
“So, the implication will be very serious. We are appealing to (the U.S.) to give Nigeria more time to dialogue with our people and we hope we will reintegrate them into our fold. So they should move ahead slowly.
But Adegbite’s pleas may have come too late. Three leaders of Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist group were just designated as terrorists by the US State Department. The move means any assets belonging to the men in the US will be frozen, and contact with US citizens banned. It also means they may be targeted for murder by a U.S. drone.
The three are Abubakar Shekau who leads the militant group, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid el Barnawi, the latter two believed to have close links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which the U.S. previously designated a terrorist organization.
Adegite warned: “The people of this country must ensure that this does degenerate into the situation like that of Afghanistan, Somalia and Mali now. We are too sophisticated for that and therefore, we must stop the drift and arrest it.”