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Why we Must Crush Boko Haram – ECOWAS

Why we Must Crush Boko Haram – ECOWAS
A woman holds a sign to call for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram
militants on May 19, 2014 during a sit-in organised by Human Rights organisations in Abidjan. The “#bringbackourgirls” slogan has become a huge global phenomenon following the abductions Nigerian girls
AFP PHOTO.


Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS, yesterday, restated its commitment to crushing insurgent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

It also vowed to cripple its campaign of criminalising the quest for education in Nigeria and across West African countries.

Also, the United States has now agreed to share some intelligence with Nigeria to bolster the search for the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

ECOWAS Chairman and President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, in his remarks yesterday, during the opening of the 2014 1st Ordinary Session of the 3rd Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, said “any destabilisation of Nigeria would be a destabilisation of our entire sub-region.”

Mahama, who was represented by his vice, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah, said that it was unfortunate that the insurgents have continued to unleash acts of violence and terror on many Nigerians, killing many and leaving several ordinary Nigerians maimed and frightened.

“The recent abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok is reprehensible and so disheartening. No decent society will accept this. Unless we are able to overcome Boko Haram and its ideology of criminalising the rightful quest for education, the future of our sub-region could be badly affected. We need to ensure we maintain safe education and learning environments for our children, so that our people can be fully equipped to compete successfully with others in the rest of the world,” he said.

The chairman of the community’s leaders pointed out that the abduction of the schoolgirls in Borno State is one act of terror that has created global concern, especially about the fate of the girls.

He said it was against the backdrop that ECOWAS invoked the relevant sections of its Joint Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Mahama called on members of the ECOWAS Parliament to use their relationship with their constituents to prevent and discourage radicalisation, especially among the youth.

He urged the ECOWAS Parliament to cooperate and support the governments of the sub region in the fight against insurgency.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by Senate President, David Mark, said terrorism and insurgency are alien to African culture.

“We must, therefore, stand united against it in all its ramifications. We will continue to seek regional and international collaboration in the fight against these crimes which by their nature are transnational,” he said.

Jonathan said the crescendo of regional security challenges required member states to fortify their democratic institutions to be able to confront and overcome the threat.

On his part, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, said the challenge of a more inclusive, peaceful and integrated region required greater coordinated measures to particularly combat the new threats constituted by terrorism and organised crime.

In his welcome address, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, condemned “in strongest terms the brigandage and mindless waste of human lives and property by the renegades who go under the cover of so-called religious extremism to commit crimes against humanity.”

Ekweremadu, who is Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, also condemned the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State.

“This is the height of cowardice and depravity to take unarmed young women into forced custody. No doubt, the Boko Haram has by this affront declared total war not only on Nigeria, but also the West African sub-region and indeed humanity,” he said.

US now agrees to share intelligence with Nigeria

The United States has agrred to share some intelligence with Nigeria to bolster the search for the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the Pentagon said, yesterday.

The U.S. military is flying manned and unmanned surveillance missions over Nigeria, but had been unable to directly share intelligence with Abuja because it had not established protocols with the government.

Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren said that agreement was struck over the weekend.

“We have finalized an agreement with the Nigerians to share intelligence with them – specifically intelligence relating to the kidnapped girls,” Warren told reporters.

While the agreement would allow the U.S. military to share some intelligence — including aerial imagery — with Nigeria, it did not mean that all raw U.S. intelligence gathered could be shared, Warren added.

The Pentagon’s announcement followed a meeting in Paris over the weekend where West African leaders agreed to work together to combat Boko Haram, saying the group had become a shared threat.

Committee on Chibok abduction arrives Borno, meets Shehu, service chiefs

Meanwhile, the Presidential Fact-finding Committee on the abduction of the Chibok Schoolgirls said, yesterday, that it has entered the crucial stage of its assignment as it arrived Maiduguri, Borno State capital in continuation of its assignment.

The Committee members, led by the chairman, Brig-Gen. Ibrahim Sabo (rtd), arrived Sunday evening aboard an Air Force plane and were received at Maiduguri Airport by the Acting General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. M. Y. Ibrahim, and officials of Borno State Government.

A statement by the committee’s spokesperson Kingsley Osadolor, quoted Gen. Sabo (rtd) as saying that the committee had entered a crucial phase of its assignment.

“We are now in the main theatre where the Chibok schoolgirls were taken away against their will. The whole world is mobilised against the abduction, and we cannot be happy while our daughters remain in captivity,” he said.

Gen. Sabo reiterated that the Committee had an open mind to its assignment.

“We are not here with preconceived notions. We are here to find facts that will lead to a resolution of the current hostage crisis involving the schoolgirls.”

He said the committee, while in Borno State, would engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders, to enable the committee have a holistic appreciation of the matter at hand, and advise the Federal Government accordingly. He, therefore, called for the co-operation of all concerned.

During a courtesy call on the Shehu of Borno at his palace, yesterday, the Fact-finding Committee Chairman recalled that, historically, Maiduguri was a famous centre in the Trans-Sahara Trade, but regretted that the city and the state had suffered severe socio-economic dislocation as a result of insurgency in recent years.

Responding, the Shehu of Borno, Dr Mustapha El-Kanemi, described the Chibok abduction as unfortunate. He said the Kanem-Borno Empire had been in existence for some 1,200 years, adding that the people were peace-loving.

“What is happening now is unfortunate. It’s entirely new to us. None of the leaders of Boko Haram is from Borno. They cannot claim to be from here. The problem was brought to us from elsewhere,” the Shehu said.

The committee also held a closed-door meeting with service chiefs in Borno State, including the GOC 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Police Commissioner, Mr. Lawal Tanko, Director, Department of State Services, DSS, Mr. Abdullahi Ahmed among others.

The committee’s terms of reference are:

To liaise with the Borno State Government and establish the circumstances leading to the school remaining open for boarding students when other schools were closed;

To liaise with relevant authorities and the parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted;

To interface with the security services and the Borno State Government to ascertain how many of the missing girls have returned;

To mobilise the surrounding communities and the general public on citizen support for a rescue strategy and operation; and

To articulate a framework for a multi-stakeholder action for the rescue of the missing girls; and to advise Government on any matter incidental to the terms of reference.

At its inauguration, President Goodluck Jonathan announced that the Committee was not a substitute for the search and rescue efforts already mounted by the security and defence forces.

The Committee had spent the past week in the Federal Capital Territory engaged in interactive sessions and consultations with a broad range of sources and contacts. These include the Minister of Defence, Service Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, and heads of Intelligence agencies.







Source: Vanguard

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