Nigerian president sacks security and defense chiefs | News | DW | 23.06.2012
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Nigerian president sacks security and defense chiefs

The Nigerian president has sacked his main security advisor and defense minister as concern grows about growing unrest. A spate of recent militant Islamist bombings against churches has led to Christian reprisals.

A machine gun is seen on an armoured vehicle in front of Bayero University in Nigeria's northern city of Kano April 29, 2012. Gunmen killed at least 15 people and wounded many more on Sunday in an attack on a university theatre being used by Christian worshippers in Kano, a northern Nigerian city where hundreds have died in Islamist attacks this year. REUTERS/Stringer (NIGERIA - Tags: CRIME LAW)

Anschlag Nigeria Kano

National Security Adviser Andrew Owoye Azazi and Minister of Defense Bello Mohammed were "sacked," according to a statement by presidential spokesman Ruben Abati.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan replaced Azazi with retired colonel Sambo Dasuki, the spokesman said, while the ministerial replacement was to be allowed later. Dasuki is cousin to the Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria's highest Muslim spiritual figure.

A deadly insurgency from Islamist group Boko Haram began earlier this year with criticism of Jonathan intensifying this week after three suicide bombings at churches sparked reprisals from Christian mobs. Mosques were burnt and dozens of Muslims killed in the sectarian violence.

©Jonathan Rebboah/Wostok Press/Maxppp France, Paris 25/11/2011 Le president du Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan arrive au palais de l Elysee The President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan at the Elysee Palace

Jonathan faced criticism for going to Rio amid turmoil at home

At least 106 people are believed to have died in the violence, which began on Sunday with suicide attacks at three churches that killed at least 16.

Meeting ahead of dismissals

The decision to sack such leading figures in the battle with Boko Haram followed a meeting of Jonathan with his security team on Friday, hours after returning to Nigeria from the UN environmental summit in Rio.

The president's attendance at the summit itself drew deep criticism at such a time of spiraling unrest.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and its producer of oil, is roughly divided into a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

Boko Haram is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives since mid-2009. On Friday, the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the group could be held accountable for crimes against humanity.

The deadliest attack yet occurred in the city of Kano in January. At least 185 people died in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings.

rc/ai (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)