by Olalekan Adetayo
Jonathan, who spoke through his spokesperson, Reuben Abati, on a day that fivesoldiers died in an attack on a security patrol team in Damaturu, Yobe State, by a suspected Boko Haram bomber, described the call as “rude and a mere blackmail.”
“The President cannot be intimidated by any group or individual. The President will never resign. He has the mandate of Nigerians to serve his father land and nobody should imagine that he will succumb to blackmail,” Abati told journalists in Abuja.
The sect, in a broadcast on Saturday asked Jonathan to either resign or change to Islam before it could lay down its arms against the country.
“We do not kill women and children but those who have offended us, arrested our people and kill them,” the group said in the wake of a promise by Jonathan to end its activities before the end of June this year.
Abati said it was laughable for any group in the country to hand down such a condition to a President who was elected by both Muslims and Christians.
He said, “When Nigerians voted overwhelmingly for President Jonathan in the 2011 general election, they knew they were voting for a Christian.
“He continues to enjoy the goodwill and support of the good people of Nigeria. As President, Dr. Jonathan is the leader of both Muslims and Christians; in fact; he is the leader of persons of all faiths.
“So, it amounts to sheer blackmail for any individual or group to ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to convert to Islam.”
In Damaturu on Sunday, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a military patrol van, killing himself and at least five soldiers. It was believed that the killer laid an ambush for the soldiers.
The state police commissioner, Patrick Egbuniwe, confirmed that there were military casualties. Egbuniwe, who did not provide figure, said that the suicide bomber was being chased by a military patrol vehicle when he blew himself up.
However, a security source said the bomber, who drove a sport utility vehicle had been parked along the roadside and then rammed into the military convoy.
Spokesman for the police in Yobe, Mr. Toyin Gbadegesin, said, “The gunman laid ambush on a security patrol team using explosive devices around Shagari Low Cost Housing area.”
Some residential properties in Shagari Low Cost Housing Estate were reportedly destroyed in the attack.
For about two years, bombings and gun attacks by Boko Haram have become commonplace in the northern part of the country including Abuja.
The sect which has made negotiation with the government impossible says it is seeking the conversion of Nigeria to an Islamic state.
It had attacked the United Nations building in Abuja on August 26, 2011; the headquarters of the Nigeria Police on June 16, 2011; and the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, on Christmas Day.