Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three states after a series of deadly attacks by Islamist militant groups.
In a pre-recorded speech on national television, Jonathan acknowledged that the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe were no longer under the control of the Nigerian government.
“Already, some northern parts of Borno State have been taken over by groups whose allegiance are to different flags than Nigeria’s,” Jonathan said.
He later added: “These actions amount to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten (its) territorial integrity. As a responsible government, we will not tolerate this.”
Jonathan said his military will take “all necessary action” to “put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists” in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, and he ordered more troops to be sent to the northeastern states.
Under the state of emergency, any building suspected to house Islamic extremists would be taken over in what he described as the “war” now facing the nation.
The president also appealed to Nigeria’s neighbors for assistance.
“I am again approaching our neighboring countries, through diplomatic channels, as done in the recent past, for their cooperation in apprehending any terrorist elements that may escape across the border,” Jonathan said.
Most of the focus of the Nigerian government has centered on militants of Boko Haram, who have been blamed for most of the violence that has left up to 3,000 people dead since 2010.
The group wants its imprisoned members freed and strict Islamic law adopted across the multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people, where Christians have often been the target of senseless killing. Analysts have said Boko Haram members have contact with two other al-Qaida-linked groups in Africa.
“We will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice,” the president said.
In late December 2011, Jonathan declared a similar state of emergency over parts of four states, including Borno and Yobe, but it had little effect on the continued extremist attacks.
The president’s speech comes as many have accused the Nigerian military and police of torturing and summarily killing suspects, as well as burning down homes and killing civilians in retaliation for militant attacks. When at least 187 people were killed in a fishing village in Borno state along the shores of Lake Chad, there were allegations that soldiers are responsible.