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Nigeria thanks Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2012 | 11:33 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Nigeria's Ambassador to Jamaica, Peter Layi Oyedele, has thanked Jamaica for its expression of solidarity with the Government of Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan's government has been subject to an organised assault from the Boko Haram group which has killed more than 500 people last year.

The group, which has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, aims to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state.

The group is said to be responsible for the killing of 250 people since the new year.

Foreign Minister A.J. Nicholson, in an address to diplomats at Jamaica House on Tuesday, said Jamaica stands by the side of the Nigerian government.

"We are alarmed at reports of violence and extremism in our sister nation of Nigeria, where terrorism and anarchy are being used as political tools against Nigeria's democracy and against the legitimately elected Government of President Goodluck Jonathan," Nicholson said.

"We stand in solidarity with the Government and the people of Nigeria at this difficult time," he added.

Ambassador Oyedele expressed shock at the events in his country which have led to the bloodbath and an attack on the Government.

"We have lived together as brothers and sisters, we inter-marry .. but what we are seeing now is quite strange in the country. We have some people because of one religious or another are creating atrocities," he said.

"The government is doing everything possible to combat the evil in our country," Oyedele added.

Nigeria is evenly split geographically and religiously, with about 75 million Muslims in the impoverished north and 75 million Christians in the oil-rich south.

The divide is said to have fuelled Boko Haram's campaign.

In an audio message that was posted online, rebel leader Imam Abubakar Shekau said that he was willing to martyr himself to make Jonathan "see."

"If Jonathan does not repent as a Muslim, even if I die myself, Jonathan's going to see. He's looking at me like I'm nobody, but he'll see," Shekau said in the video.

"We're killing police officers, we're killing soldiers and other government people who are fighting Allah and Christians who are killing Muslims and talking badly about our Islamic religion," Shekau said.

"I am not against anyone, but if Allah asks me to kill someone, I will kill him and I will enjoy killing him like I am killing a chicken."