US Congress asks Obama to explain strategy to deal with Boko Haram menace

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The United States Congress has asked President Barack Obama to explain what strategy the government has put in place to deal with Boko Haram menace.

It also asked the State Department to use its waiv­er authority to set aside U.S. laws that would hin­der assistance to Nigeria in the face of Boko Haram attacks.

This was contained in the opening statement of the Chairman of the House For­eign Affairs Committee on Boko Haram, Edward Royce (R-CA), yesterday, during the hearing on “Boko Haram: The Growing Threat to School­girls, Nigeria, and Beyond.”

Royce said U.S cannot sit on the sidelines just as he stressed that “U.S. involve­ment was critical.” He spoke shortly before a Nigerian teenager and victim of Boko Haram attack, Deborah Pe­ter gave her testimony before the committee. Full speech of Royce was posted on his web­site.

While saying that U.S. has direct security interests in the ongoing effort to defeat Boko Haram militants, Royce drew attention to Pentagon’s report on Boko Haram. “Command­ers at the Pentagon have stated that Boko Haram is a threat to Western interests and one of the counterterrorism priorities in Africa,” he said.

On the status of Boko Ha­ram, he said: “Pressure from this Committee was critical in getting the State Department to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisa­tion. Indeed, the Administra­tion made that announcement in this room. As many have noted, it shouldn’t have taken so long.”

He therefore called on the State Department and the Pen­tagon witnesses to explain the strategy the U.S. government has put in place to deal with Boko Haram menace.

Earlier, he had rhetorically asked the question: “Why we care?” and provided answers thus: “We care about Deborah, her friends and family, and a girls right to an education. We care about human rights and religious liberty and the future of Africa’s largest country.

He noted that “over time, Boko Haram has developed aa vast arsenal of weapons, re­ceived training from al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and built-up its resources.

“This means greater ter­ror for Nigerians, and greater challenges for Nigerian se­curity forces. Unfortunately, these forces suffer unprofes­sional elements with poor mo­rale.” According to him, the poor impression of the Nige­rian security “led some to say we shouldn’t get involved.”

But Royce thought other­wise when he said: “…U.S. forces are well positioned to “advise and assist” Nigeria forces in the search for these girls.

In this role, U.S. forces, expertly trained to deal with hostage situations and in jun­gle environments could help Nigerians with intelligence, planning and logistics.

“And if some U.S. laws would hinder such assistance, the Administration should use its waiver authority under these extraordinary circum­stances.”

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