Buhari calls for tighter security around borders in Lake Chad Basin with proliferation of weapons from Russia-Ukraine war

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja urged more vigilance and tightening of security around borders, drawing attention to the increased number of arms, ammunition, and other weapons from the Russia and Ukraine war in the Lake Chad Basin.

At the 16th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), the President, who is Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government, said the threat by terrorists in the region had been relatively brought under control, while the influx of weapons poses fresh challenges.

“It must however be stated that despite the successes recorded by the gallant troops of the MNJTF and the various ongoing national operations in the region, terrorist threats still lurk in the region.

“Regrettably, the situation in the Sahel and the raging war in Ukraine serve as major sources of weapons and fighters that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in the Lake Chad Region. A substantial proportion of the arms and ammunition procured to execute the war in Libya continues to find its way to the Lake Chad Region and other parts of the Sahel.

“Weapons being used for the war in Ukraine and Russia are equally beginning to filter to the region.

“This illegal movement of arms into the region has heightened the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which continues to threaten our collective peace and security in the region. There is, therefore, the urgent need for expedited collaborative actions by our border control agencies and other security services to stop the circulation of all illegal weapons in the region,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his spokesman Mr Femi Adesina.

The President said the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) deserved commendation for various operations that had brought measurable stability to the Lake Chad Basin.

“The threat of Boko Haram terrorism in the Lake Chad area no doubt brought to the fore, the imperative of enhanced collaboration among the defense forces of the region in the face of a common aggressor. I am pleased that through the Multinational Joint Task Force we responded to the challenge, proving beyond reasonable doubt that with the requisite commitment and determination, the region can solve its challenges in the best ways possible.

“The MNJTF has indeed become a model, breaking physical barriers, and affirming the workability of the common approach to conquer challenges in the area.

“Permit me, therefore, to pay tribute to the untiring efforts of the officers and men of the Multinational Joint Task Force and our various National Armed Forces who continue to make remarkable sacrifices in the fight against terrorism in the region.

“The efforts and memories of these gallant soldiers, some of whom have paid the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty for the survival and restoration of stability to the region, will never be forgotten,” he said.

President Buhari further reiterated that during the period under review and with the support of Heads of State, efforts and funding were sustained for the MNJTF to ensure that it delivers on its mandate of ensuring a safe and secure environment in the region.

President Buhari urged the leaders to complement the fight against terrorism with development.

President Buhari said the Lake Chad region was faced with a complex security situation that was highly dynamic, constantly changing, and increasingly influenced by the impact of climate change and other variables, including sadly, some external factors.

“These factors have made it imperative for us to regularly review the development and counterterrorism strategies that are operational in the region.

“We must continue together to proffer ingenious solutions to the challenges confronting us. We must, through the Commission, continue to make concerted efforts to provide the desired leadership, and ownership and ensure that our experts and troops are adequately motivated and supported to achieve our objectives.

“We must strive to continue to view our region through the lens of equity, fairness, diversity, and inclusion. It is imperative that we all see ourselves reflected in the kind of leadership we provide for the region.

“We must continue to support and contribute to the success of the organization. We all must rise and face the challenges of the region headlong in order to deliver the bright future we envisage for our region,’’ he stated.

The President said budgetary concerns remain a challenge for all member countries, considering the declining global inflows and increasing demands, adding that “we must, however, never lose sight of the vision of the Founding Fathers of the Commission. We must continue to strive and make collaborative efforts at upholding the ideals for which the LCBC in its nearly 60 years of existence has continued to pursue.’’

“To our gallant troops in the field, ensuring the safety and stability of the region, we recommit ourselves to sustaining the ongoing counterterrorism efforts by providing you with the requisite needs to function optimally. I wish to assure you that your welfare would continue to remain our priority. I urge you all to rededicate yourselves as we take the final push towards eradicating terrorism from our Region. Together, we shall restore and transform the Lake Chad Region to its former glory.

“As Chairman of the Summit of Heads of Government and State of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, I commend and thank you all for the vibrant solidarity, enhanced strong cooperation, and support we continue to share.

“I equally express sincere gratitude to our partners for the support they continue to offer us in our joint collaborative efforts to fight the challenges that have hampered the sustainable development of the region, particularly climate change and terrorism. Together, we have shown that with commitment and with the desired support, we can achieve success,’’ the President said.

The President urged the leaders to remain committed to ensuring that the diversity in the region continues to be a source of strength and a positive cohesive force for the people of the Lake Chad Region.

The President welcomed the State of Libya to active participation in the activities of the Commission.

“This is a positive step in the quest of our sister nation to rise beyond its current travails and to return to active engagements in the comity of nations. Together, we shall collectively pursue our shared objectives of joint development of the Lake Chad region,’’ he said.

On his stewardship as Chairman of the LCBC, President Buhari said the meeting provided a platform to holistically review collective efforts at sustainable management of shared heritage, Lake Chad, and to reinvigorate efforts at ensuring peace and stability in the region.

President Buhari said it was heartwarming to note the various interventions that had been carried out through the Commission to complement the developmental initiatives of various governments in the region.

The President noted that through the Regional Stabilization Strategy and its implementing components, the people of the region affected by the scourge of Boko Haram had continued to receive the support they needed towards ensuring that they effectively return to their normal homes.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the LCBC, Amb. Mammam Nuhu, said two reports of the 68th session of the Council of Ministers will be presented, and a report by the Special Envoy for Chadian transition.

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