President Muhammadu Buhari stated at the Second Regional Security Summit yesterday in Abuja that the Nigerian armed forces had considerably degraded the Boko Haram terrorist sect. Buhari, however, stressed that dislodging the group from the Sambisa forest in Borno State, where its fighters are currently holed up following heavy bombardment by the military, and freeing the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls were the major tasks still left.
This was as the European Union pledged to support the Multinational Joint Taskforce, a sub-regional security outfit, with 50 million Euros. Vice President and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini, disclosed this at the Abuja summit. The MNJTF was reactivated in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency to coordinate the fight against the sect and other acts of terrorism within the West African sub-region.
The United States Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Anthony Blinken, told the conference that his country had contributed over $250 million to the on-going fight against terrorism, in addition to other resources.
In a related development, the United Nations Security Council, in a statement yesterday in New York, hailed the Second Regional Security Summit and the efforts of the regional leaders to present a united front against terrorism. The Security Council condemned the abuses and atrocities being perpetrated by Boko Haram, warning that the culprits may be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Second Regional Security Summit in Abuja was attended by President of France, Francois Hollande, and seven regional leaders, including the presidents of Chad, Cameroun, Niger, Benin, Senegal and Gabon. Though, other Western countries and institutions were represented at the summit, Hollande was the only Western leader present, underscoring France’s crucial involvement in the fight against terrorism in the continent. Hollande had hosted the First Regional Security Summit in Paris on May 17, 2014.
Speaking at the summit yesterday, Buhari said he had significantly fulfilled his promise to rout Boko Haram, which has wreaked havoc in the Nigeria’s North-east since 2009, and spread its activities to countries within the Lake Chad Basin.
He said, “When I started, our first task was to improve our security infrastructure and strengthen our regional and international alliances. We have degraded Boko Haram and squeezed them into a small enclave in Sambisa forest. What remains is the dislodgement of terrorists from their hideouts from the Sambisa forest and liberate the Chibok girls and others. Boko Haram now resorts to hit and run tactics.”
Buhari stated that the country’s military operations against terrorists had followed acceptable international standards. “We have not only observed human rights and international humanitarian law in our military operations, we have also diligently implemented several proactive programmes. Today, we have achieved significant outcomes. Boko Haram is no longer a cohesive force, but a group of self-seeking individuals pursuing personal glory,” he said.