Chris Steven, Abuja
The Centre for Diplomacy and Conflict Management (CDCM) has accused France and its colonies of aiding Boko Haram/ Islamic State in West Africa’s (ISWAP) activities, appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to sanction these nations.
The Centre made this known in a letter signed by Executive Director Dr. Angulu Rilwan and addressed to President Buhari with the title “The Urgent Need to Demand Decisive Action from France in the Ongoing War Against Boko Haram/ISWAP Terrorist Operating within Francophone Countries”.
In the piece, the diplomatic community applauded the rapid progress made in the war against terrorism under President Buhari’s administration, evident in the takeover of Camp Zero – the operational headquarter of Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest.
However, the Centre moaned over gross negligence on the part of neighbouring states – in a supposed military pact with Nigeria which have sabotaged the gallant Nigerian troops.
According to the group, these Francophone nations are safe havens for the radical sect to regroup, launch offensive as well as recruit fighters.
Being French colonies, the diplomatic community reckoned that these countries may only be acting the script of their master, France, who uncharacteristically remained silent despite several allegations of funding and arming the terrorist group.
It is on this premise, however, that the Centre appealed to President Buhari to extend cold diplomatic relations to France until it takes a decisive action towards confronting Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.
“Mr. President may wish to note that the takeover of the operational headquarters of Boko Haram Terrorist by the Nigerian Military indeed marked a significant milestone in the war against terrorism in North-East Nigeria. And this consequently resulted in the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists to flee in droves into neighbouring countries such as Chad, Benin, Cameroon, and Niger,” the letter reads in part.
“ It is instructive to state that these countries are francophone countries that have entered into a strategic military pact with Nigeria that culminated in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising military units from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria and headquartered in N’Djamena with a mandate to bring an end to the activities of Boko Haram.
“ Mr. President may also wish to know that the MNJTF is an offensive and stabilization military forces to combat Boko Haram and other groups labelled as terrorists operating around the Lake Chad Basin. However, credible information suggests that Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters have indeed found these francophone countries as safe havens for regrouping and launching offensives against the Nigerian Military. This is on the heels that there is a growing security concern that these regional movements have expanded their reach in recruiting terrorist fighters, as well as the route where Boko Haram/ISWAP get their supplies of arms and ammunitions despite the presence of Operation Barkhane an ongoing French anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region, that consists of a 3,000-strong French force headquartered in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.
“ Mr. President, Operation Barkhane has been designed with five francophone countries, that are former French colonies, that span the Sahel. These countries are collectively referred to as the “G5 Sahel”, and many questions have been asked as to the commitment of France in assisting to putting an end to the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in Nigeria.
“ Mr. President, we must admit that the resurgence of Boko Haram/ISWAP forces around Lake Chad means continuing conflict for Nigeria and neighbouring states, as well as ongoing peril for civilians caught in the crossfire.
“ The Sahel belt of Sub Sahara Africa has been riddled with conflicts and unstable governments from Mali, through Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Sudan and this has led to a steady flow of arms across the continent, helping to fuel more conflicts and fanning the growth of extremist in Nigeria.
“ Mr. President, it is no longer news that the French authorities have not made any substantial efforts towards curtailing the activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist who have found the francophone countries as safe heavens. This has further heightened the suspicion that the French authorities are giving covert support to the activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP by its refusal to act as at when necessary.
“Mr. President, for inexplicable reasons that French authorities have refused to address issues that have been raised in numerous quarters on how Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists have been able to turn the francophone countries to a haven for recruitments and supply of arms and ammunition for its fighters.
“ The case of Chad is more worrisome given the fact that Operation Barkhane is stationed in Chad and Chad has remained a relatively safe home for Boko Haram terrorists when they come under heavy bombardment from the Nigerian Military. Chad has also been a route of guns and narcotics supply and trade for Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.
“ Mr. President, France’s role has fallen short of the required obligation required of them, and this in our considered opinion does not augur well for the sustenance of the war against terrorism in Nigeria and the region.
“ Mr. President, this lackadaisical stance of France, requires that Nigeria must take urgent actions in ensuring that France acts appropriately to support Nigeria in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria because if the Francophone countries remains a haven for Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist, then North-East Nigeria and Nigeria in general would continue to witness unrest for many years to come.
“ Mr. President, The Centre for Diplomacy and Conflict Management is as a result of this, advocating that the Nigerian authorities extend cold diplomatic relations to France until it takes a decisive action towards confronting Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists operating within Francophone countries.
“ Mr. President, the Nigerian authorities must take this decisive action to send a strong message towards ensuring that the nefarious activities of Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorist are curtailed within the shortest possible time.
“ Mr. President, the Centre for Diplomacy and Conflict Management is convinced that this line of action is what is needed for the remnants of Boko Haram/ISWAP to be cleared within the shortest possible time.”