(AA) – Nigeria’s President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on Monday branded the Boko Haram militant group as a “fraud”.
“The fraud called Boko Haram can be defeated by denying it a recruitment base,” Buhari, a fierce critic of the militant group, told some politicians from north-central Nasarawa State.
“No religion allows for the killing of children in school dormitory, in markets and places of worship,” he said.
“They [Boko Haram] have nothing to do with religion. They are terrorists and we are going to deal with them as they deal with terrorists anywhere.”
Buhari said Boko Haram will be denied a recruitment base “the moment our local communities realize that its claim to being a religious group is nothing but a fraud.”
He lamented the destruction of schools in northern Nigeria, an action he said could deny thousands of youngsters access to education and a better future unless something is done urgently to end the crisis.
“The worst thing anybody can do is to deny children access to education. That will be destructive to their lives and we are not going to allow that to happen,” Buhari said.
Known for his criticism of the terror network, Buhari had in 2013 rejected an offer by Boko Haram that he represents them in a botched negotiation with the Nigerian government.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in Nigeria’s local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.
The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.
In the six years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for numerous attacks on places of worship and government institutions, along with thousands of deaths.
Buhari, a former military ruler respected for his simplicity and anti-corruption credentials, has vowed that the militant group would be eliminated with the “collective will” of the Nigerian people.