Nigerian politicians said to be sponsoring Boko Haram

Trevor Grundy says senior former British ministers and soldiers have called for military assistance to be provided to help combat the notorious group

Claim that a politician sponsors Boko Haram comes as British MPs and soldiers call for Common wealth intervention in Nigeria

London October 14) - Britain and the Commonwealth should help provide Nigeria with military assistance to tackle the brutal forces of Boko Haram, say a coalition of former government ministers and senior military personnel.

In a letter signed by the former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a call was made for a co-ordinated Commonwealth-led military assistance programme for the Nigerian forces in their campaign against Boko Haram. The letter also called for increased international intelligence support and training for the Nigerian government and military.

It was published today in ‘The Independent' six months after 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamist extremists in northern Nigeria.

Despite an international campaign to find the girls, no diplomatic or military progress has been made to secure their release.

"Today," said the letter which was signed by the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord (Paddy) Ashdown and the former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, "more than 200 teenage girls will spend their sixth month in captivity, somewhere near the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, scared, hurt and alone . . . The days have turned into weeks and the weeks into months. The world was too slow to act when on the night of 14 April 2014 evil descended on a secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Boko Haram terrorists, disguised as soldiers, kidnapped 276 female students from their beds at gunpoint. We stand here together united with our Commonwealth partners, the Nigerian Government and the international community to do all we can to bring them back to their families."

Signatories included other senior army officers and MPs who called on the UN and international community to support-

An international inquiry into the role, impact and financial networks supporting Boko Haram;

Co-ordinated Commonwealth -led military assistance for the Nigerian security forces in their campaign against Boko Haram;

Increased international intelligence support and training for the Nigerian Government and military;

Better co-ordination and focus at an EU (European Union) level of foreign defence and aid policy towards West Africa to help combat terrorism and extremism and support the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria;

Following the successful Paris and London summits with Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, closer liaison between France and the UK with regards to a more co-ordinated strategy to assist in the fight against terrorism in West Africa.

The letter had been organized as part of a lobbying campaign by Nigerian business groups who feel international investment is being threatened by the instability in the country, said a report in ‘The Independent.'

Sir Malcolm chairs Parliament's intelligence and security committee and is a former chairman of the ArmourGroup, one of the world's largest security companies, which has offices in 27 countries including Nigeria.

The call for strong Commonwealth action against terrorism in West Africa came on the same day that a 63- year old Australian, Dr Stephen Davis, told the BBC that he knows the name of one of the men alleged to be sponsoring Boko Haram which has links with not only Al Qaeda but also ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

In an interview with the BBC's Today programme, Davis said that it was "fruitless" to try and get the girls released because the moment they were released or exchanged another group of terrorists would carry out more kidnappings. He said orders to kill anyone who set free the girls would be issued by the group's sponsors.

The BBC interviewer asked: "Who are the sponsors?"

Davis replied: "Predominately, Nigerian politicians. There are sponsors outside Nigeria but also the likes of former governor of Borno State (Ali Modu) Sheriff whom we know has been financing Boko Haram for some time."

BBC: "I just want to interrupt for a second. You are saying that it is a senior Nigerian politician who is behind this whole thing?"

Davis: "Yes."

It is understood that Davis, who says he has a doctorate in geography, was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to try and secure the release of the kidnapped girls by negotiation.

In a previous interview he said that the terrorist situation in West Africa is growing worse day by day.

"Terror groups," he said," are linking up in Somalia, Southern Sudan, Egypt and one has fairly strong evidence they are talking with ISIS members. They will link up with ISIS and al-Shabaab and I think that what we are seeing in that region is the new homeland of radical Islam in the world."

Asked why President Jonathan did not take action against people in Nigeria - given they really are sponsoring terrorist activities - Davis said: "He would be accused of trying to rig the elections due early next year (2015). So I think this will run through to the election unabated. These politicians think that if they win power they can turn the terrorists off but this has mutated."

He said that Boko Haram (which translated into English roughly Western Education is Forbidden) are just killing indiscriminately, beheading their victims, disemboweling people - "men, women and children and even whole villages."

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