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Kerry warns against military crackdowns in Nigeria

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday congratulated Nigeria on its recent military successes against Boko Haram, but warned the country will face a blowback if it “cracks down” on the Islamists with excessive force.

Speaking at a press conference in the northern city of Sokoto, Kerry praised Nigeria for reclaiming swathes of territory from Boko Haram and releasing thousands of hostages over the past year.

Nigeria has made “important progress”, Kerry said. “Nigeria and its neighbours are degrading Boko Haram’s capabilities.”

But Kerry cautioned against a heavy-handed response and emphasised respect for human rights.

“In the wake of terrorist activity, some are tempted to crack down on anyone and everyone,” Kerry said.

“But extremism can’t be defeated through repression or fear. Fear instilled through repression invites not confidence but contempt,” Kerry said, “it creates terrorists.”

On his third visit to Nigeria in less than two years, Kerry met with traditional and religious leaders, including Sokoto Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar.

Kerry appealed to Nigerians to practise equality and tolerance to “overcome deep-seated ethnic and religious divisions.

Source: National News Agency