“Our security forces are gaining ground on Boko Haram insurgents.”
Nigeria has expressed delight at improved cooperation between wih its neighbours in the fight against Boko Haram.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, who spoke on the side-lines of the on-going AU summit, welcomed the cooperation of Cameroon, Chad, Benin, and Niger in the fight against insurgency.
He said Nigeria was “impressed” by the implementation of an action plan to counter Boko Haram terrorists agreed by the four countries last month at the Paris summit on Security in Nigeria.
“The most important that happened between Paris and the follow-up meeting in London to date is the commitment of the neighbouring countries with Nigeria to cooperate and fight terrorism and insurgency. From the outcome of our meeting in London, the Cameroonians, the Nigeriens, the Chadians and the Beninese have really come all out prepared to link up with us to fight terrorism as if it is happening on their own soil. We all agree that whatever happens to Nigeria happens to anyone of them, not only to any country in Africa but in our own sub region. Already these countries have gone ahead to start operating within their own national programmes to combat terrorism,” he said.
He said Nigeria and its neighbours have agreed to establish an intelligence sharing unit to be based in Nigeria.
The Nigeria minister welcomed an offer by the AU to send a team of experts to Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries to discuss a proposed regional security force.
Mr. Wali said he had discussed the matter with AU Commissioner on Peace and Security at the on-going summit, and that a similar proposal was being considered for other regions in Africa.
He defended the AU, which has often been criticised for being docile in responding to conflicts and insecurity in member states, saying, “The AU had really been sized on the situation in Nigeria.”
The minister, who condemned the heinous activities of Boko Haram, including the latest killings in Abuja, claimed that the activities of the group had been weakened by the operations of the Nigeria security agencies.
“They cannot confront the armed forces again and they now go for soft targets, this is cowardly of them and this shows that our security forces are gaining ground on Boko Haram insurgents,” he said.
The theme of the two-day summit is Agriculture and Food Security but the issue of security in the continent was the dominant agenda.
On Wednesday, the security challenges in North-eastern Nigeria, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Northern Mali were in focus at a meeting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the AU Peace and Security Council, AUPSC.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who arrived Malabo late on Wednesday, was represented at the meeting by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In the wake of growing terrorism, armed conflicts and proliferation of intra-national crises within African nations, Mr. Wali warned that African leaders are short of attaining their goal of a conflict-free Africa by 2020.
He said terrorism had become a complex challenge to peace and security in several African countries.
“In Nigeria in particular, this challenge is relatively new and has assumed a severe dimension, involving unacceptable loss of lives, destruction of property as well as lack of safety for individuals, congregations, communities and institutions,” he said.
He told the AUPSC meeting that Boko Haram terrorists, who had maimed, killed and abducted school children in Nigeria, had formed alliances with international terrorists groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Al-Shabaab.
He said Africa was also faced with other emerging security challenges such as piracy, human and drug trafficking, sporadic election and communal violence.
“This unsatisfactory state of affairs calls for urgent attention if we are to realize our objective of silencing all fights in Africa by 2020,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has formally submitted the Abuja Statement on Human Security to the African Union Commission for inclusion in the on-going review of African Peace and Security Architecture.
The Abuja statement was the outcome of the February 2014 conference on Human Security, Peace and Development: Agenda for 21st Century Africa, hosted by Nigeria, as parts of events to mark its centenary celebration.
The two key recommendations from the conference include a call on all banks in Africa to devote 30 per cent of their lending in agriculture to women farmers and women-owned agri-businesses.
It also recommended that the AU establish an African Human Security Institution, AHSI.