Boko Haram: Nigeria, Chad, Niger Sign Pact

Nigeria and two of its neighbours – Chad and Niger – have signed an agreement to team up in fighting Boko Haram, which has turned into a transnational terror group.
A top security source close to the deal yesterday said that the stage for the deal was set by President Goodluck Jonathan who had a series of telephone conversations with his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby. Boko Haram, which is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, has increasingly made incursions into Cameroon and is also threatening the stability of Niger and Chad.
It was gathered that at a point during the talks between the two leaders, Jonathan had directed the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki, to tie up the loose ends. Dasuki subsequently dispatched Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh and the Chief of ArmyStaff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, to fine-tune the details of the agreement. It was learnt that the Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou was also part of the deal so as to strengthen the resolve of the countries to fight Boko Haram.
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The source said the three countries, which contributed troops to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), located in Baga, Borno State, were discussing with President Paul Biya of Cameroun to participate in the renewed efforts to fight Boko Haram. Boko Haram has of late shifted focus to Cameroun where it has launched successive raids on targets, including the military, in the country.
At the weekend, Boko Haram abducted 60 people in a deadly attack in northern Cameroun. The militants “burst into two villages in the Tourou area… They torched houses and left with around 60 people. Most of them were women and children,” a police officer said.
However, about 30 of the hostages have been released. As part of the new offensive against Boko Haram, Niger’s Foreign Minister, Mohamed Bazoum, yesterday said nations threatened by Boko Haram would seek United Nations Security Council authorisation for a multinational force to fight the militants. According to him, the countries of the Lake Chad region have agreed during a meeting in Niger’s capital Niamey on Tuesday that the resolution will be presented to the UN by the African Union.
However he did not specify when this would be done. `Boko Haram, which is fighting to create an Islamic emirate in northern Nigeria, has increasingly made incursions into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad. “Mistrust and disagreements between the states has however hampered attempts to pool military resources.
“The countries had agreed to create a multinational force to tackle the insurgents by last November but failed to contribute the troops. “Contrary to what happened in the past, we agreed with our partners that a resolution should passed by the Security Council that will allow the establishment of the Joint Multinational Force,’’ a report by Reuters quoted Bazoum as saying.
He said the countries also agreed to move the headquarters of the proposed multinational force from Baga to the Chadian capital N’Djamena after Baga was seized and ransacked by Boko Haram fighters. Meanwhile, the Federal Government is considering recalling troops on peacekeeping missions abroad.
The development is intended to “enhance the operational capabilities of the Nigerian military.” The government has also reacted to the new video purportedly released by the Boko Haram self-acclaimed leader, Abubakar Shekau, vowing to probe the threat that the group has the capacity to overrun Nigeria, with the equipment it carted away from its attack on the MNJTF in Baga.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC), Mr. Mike Omeri, at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said while the Federal Government was disturbed by the activities of Boko Haram, it would not accept any support that will undermine its sovereignty.
“There is a need for a ‘troops surge’ in operational areas which may require recalling Nigerian troops from peacekeeping mis-the operational capabilities of the Nigerian military. “Regarding the recent barbaric attacks in the north-eastern part of the country, the United Nations has condemned, in the strongest terms, the activities of the Boko Haram and we welcomed the international solidarity shown by the world body, through its Security Council, which demands that Boko Haram immediately and unequivocally cease all hostilities and abuses of human rights and other violations of international humanitarian law.
Nigeria welcomes this expression of international support for the defeat of Boko Haram, working in collaboration with its neighbours – Chad, Cameroun, Niger and Benin.
“Because, we appear to be vulnerable, we will not accept support that will undermine our sovereignty; we will continue to seek support, but not support that will undermine our sovereignty,” he stated. On the perceived collapse of the MNJTF, the NIC coordinator said: “In the face of the various challenges militating against the full operationalisation of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and its apparent collapse, a number of African countries converged on Niamey, Niger Republic on January 20, 2015 with the sole aim of seeking authorisation from the UN Security Council, through the African Union, to set up, fund and deploy a more effective multinational force to fight Boko Haram. “Offer of military and humanitarian assistance from regional and international bodies, should be deployed along Nigeria’s common borders with neighbouring countries with a clear mandate, command and control, as well as rule of engagement.”

Author: News Editor

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