The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called for the prosecution of the attackers on the UN House in Abuja on August 26, 2011, saying perpetrators of terrorism in Nigeria must be held to account.
The UN Chief, who was in the country on a two-day visit, said on Wednesday after laying a wreath in honour of the victims of the August 26, 2011 attack by terrorists on the UN House, which claimed the lives of 23 UN staff and civilians and injured 16 others, that: “We remain steadfast in our commitment to support a peaceful Nigeria for all people.”
He said: “On that tragic day (August 26, 2011) an appalling terrorist attack on the UN House left 23 UN employees and civilians’ dead and 16 injured. Those staff members who lost their lives are heroes who proudly served Nigerians through the UN organizations.
“We encourage all Nigerians, who have endured similar violence in their own communities. In our victim-centered approach, perpetrators must be held accountable.”
President Muhammadu Buhari told the UN Secretary General during their meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that his visit shows that the world “has not forgotten us.”
Lamenting that Nigeria and the African continent were already concerned that the attention on Russia and Ukraine would crowd out other issues, President Buhari said terrorism remains a threat to global peace, security and progress, with many already killed, while millions displaced by the insurgents over many years.
“When we assumed office, the North-East was the major security problem we inherited in 2015, but we have been able to make people understand that you cannot kill people and shout ‘Allahu Akbar,’ (God is great!).
“It is either you don’t know what you are saying or you are simply stupid. God is a God of justice, so you cannot kill people and say God is great. Luckily the people understood our message and it has made great impact,” he said.
President Buhari, however, said Nigeria remains grateful to the United Nations and some world leaders on their steadfast partnership in fighting terrorism.
President Buhari told the UN scribe that the government had started a gradual, but steady process of resettlement and reintegration where citizens get encouraged to return to their farms, businesses and other pursuits in life.
The President thanked the Secretary General for the maiden visit to Nigeria.
In his remark, the UN Scribe, who had been in Borno State on Tuesday, said what he saw was a departure from the pictures of hopelessness and despair painted, adding that ”people exuded hope.’’
“Yesterday, I visited Maiduguri where the United Nations is supporting the internally displaced. I was deeply moved by their stories and struggles.
“These include the struggles with hunger, with the World Food Programme projecting 4.1 million people in the North East of Nigeria to be food insecure in the upcoming lean season,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
Guterres said the United Nations had called for an additional 351 million dollars as part of the overall 1.1 billion dollars for the humanitarian response plan for Nigeria.
“But despite all they have seen and endured, the people I met remain hopeful and committed to returning to their communities and resuming their lives. To that end, I welcome the establishment of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Returns and Resettlement of Displaced Persons in the North East.
“This spirit of hope amidst hardship – and solidarity in struggle – was also at the centre of my discussions with the Presidency today,” he added.
The UN Scribe said discussions with President Buhari also touched on laying groundwork to ensure peaceful and democratic elections next year – and the full participation of Nigeria’s women and young people.
At the media stakeout, the UN Secretary General told newsmen that measures to address security challenges in the country, Lake Chad and Sahel were discussed, which include the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.
Guterres thanked President Buhari for his unwavering support of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, assuring more commitment from the UN on COVID-19 vaccinations, vulnerability of countries to global warming, global food crises response and reform of UN Security Council.