President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that Nigeria has joined the Islamic Coalition against Terrorism put together by Saudi Arabia.
He made the disclosure during an interview broadcast at the weekend on international satellite news channel, Aljazeera.
He had been asked whether Nigeria was part of it and he answered: “We are part of it because we’ve got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claim that they are Islamic.
“So, if there’s an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism.”
Asked whether he had suggested Nigeria’s membership of the coalition during his meeting with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz during their meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia recently, Buhari said: “Yes.”
Asked to explain how such coalition would work for Nigeria, he said he could not disclose the details to the media.
He added: ‘‘Well, that we mentioned under Lake Chad Basin Commission, our regional grouping compromising Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin and we dedicated a certain number of troops to be deployed in our own sub-region and I don’t think we have to tell the press the details of that.”
When his interviewer pointed out that since Nigeria was roughly evenly divided among Christians and Muslims and that some Christians were complaining that he was giving Islamic identity to Nigeria, the president wondered why such Christians had not gone to fight Boko Haram in the North or militants sabotaging installations in the South.
“Why can’t those Christians that complained go and fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militancy in the South. It’s Nigeria that matters, not the opinion of some religious bigots,” he stated.
The president’s admission came a under two weeks after an official presidency statement seemed to suggest that Buhari had turned down the invitation to be part of the coalition.