Abuja: Nigeria`s President Goodluck Jonathan asked the country`s parliament today for a six-month extension to the state of emergency in three northeastern states riven by Islamist militant violence.
"I most respectfully request the distinguished senators to consider and approve by resolution an extension of the proclamation of the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by a further term of six months from the date of expiration of the current time," Jonathan wrote in a letter.
Jonathan`s request, which was widely expected, came on the eve of the first anniversary of the declaration of a six-month state of emergency designed to curb the threat posed by Boko Haram fighters.
"The security situation in the three states remains daunting, albeit to varying degrees, in the face of persistent attacks by members of the Boko Haram sects on civilian and military targets with alarming casualty rates," Jonathan said in the letter.
His request, six months after a first extension, will likely give ammunition to critics who say that the government has failed to tackle the Boko Haram threat effectively.
"Emergency rule has not been able to achieve its objective of stopping the Boko Haram insurgency. The sect has become more daring and deadly. The government should not further curtail the freedom of the people by an extension," said Dapo Thomas, a political commentator from Lagos State University.
A month ago, militant fighters kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in the town of Chibok, Borno state, which has led to global outrage and an international effort to rescue the 223 still missing.
Boko Haram analyst Jacob Zenn, based at the Jamestown foundation in the US, agreed that the last year of emergency rule had yielded almost no positive results and a six-month extension was unlikely to improve the situation.
"Nigeria would have to totally revamp its security apparatus in order to make further gains against the Islamists," Zenn said.
Lawmakers unanimously approved a request to extend the state of emergency by a further six months on November 7 last year after Jonathan said the threat had not been contained.
Since then, Boko Haram attacks have increased and largely focused on civilians rather than previous targets such as government, police and military installations.