President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said he was confident that with the intensification of joint patrols, military operations and intelligence sharing by Nigeria and neighbouring countries as agreed by their leaders in Niamey last week, the activities of insurgents and other cross-border criminals will soon be drastically curtailed.
Welcoming the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin Republic who are in Abuja to work with their Nigerian counterparts on a legal framework for the cross-border military operations approved by him and neighbouring heads of state in Niamey, President Jonathan reiterated his belief that such collaboration was essential for success in the war against terrorism.
A statement by his spokesperson, Reuben Abati, quoted the President as saying, “I am quite pleased with the decisions we took in Niamey to enhance and boost joint actions against Boko Haram and other cross-border criminals because we have to work together to defeat Boko Haram and other extremist groups in our sub-region.
“I believe that if we cooperate more and monitor our borders closely, the movement of criminals and terrorists as well as small arms and ammunition across our shared borders will also be drastically reduced,” President Jonathan told the visiting Ministers who were accompanied to the Presidential Villa by Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali and the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.”
The president, according to the statement, said with their collective experience and professionalism, he expected the visiting ministers and their Nigerian counterparts to come up with an effective action plan for the successful implementation of the decisions reached by the leaders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin Republic at their meeting in Niamey on October 7.
At that meeting, the leaders announced plans to step up the fight against Boko Haram. A communiqué issued after the meeting said that a command centre for a multinational force headed by a chief of staff will be in place by November 20.
The leaders also agreed to finalise the deployment of troops promised by member states to form the multinational force within their national borders by November 1.
The visiting ministers at the audience with President Jonathan were Niger’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Bazoun; Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo; Chad’s Minister of Defence, Benaindo Tatola; Chad’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muossa Faki Mahamat; Niger’s Minister of Defence, K. Mahamadou; Benin’s Minister of Defence, Robert Yarou; Benin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nassirou Bako Arifari; and Cameroon’s Minister of Defence, Edgar Alain Debe Ngo’o.