• Calls for Regional Standby Force
  • Urges African Leaders to deliver tangible results, not just nice words

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has fingered that he calls “outside money” as being behind the fueling of terrorism on the African continent, saying it’s time to knock on the door of the international community to answer the call for justice, peace and fair play.

He stated this at the opening of the High-Level African Counter-Terrorism meeting, organised by Nigeria, with the support of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) in Abuja.

The summit with the theme, ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Institution Building to Address the Evolving Threat of Terrorism’, has in attendance the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, and Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, (UNOCT), Vladimir Voronkov.

According to him “Look at the illegal mining that plagues so many of our nations today. Those who think illegal mining has no connection with financing terrorism are sorely mistaken. The international community has both the moral and legal obligation to help in this cause because it is outside money not African money that fuels the illegal operations. We shall be knocking on this door of the international community to answer this call for justice, peace and fair play.”

President Tinubu, addressing the issue of terrorism, stated that it cannot coexist with democracy and good governance, comparing it to darkness and light being unable to exist in the same space.

He expressed regret that the threat aims to create fear among farmers, children, women, and families, causing them to abandon their daily activities and businesses to close.

He added that terrorists’ goal is to create despotism and suppress democracy, causing confusion and disarray, leading to societies and governments fighting among themselves instead of fighting the source of destruction.

Tinubu emphasised that terrorism has already taken too many lives and delayed a better future for too long.

According to him, “Key to our collective efforts against terrorism is the urgent need for a fully operational Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre. This centre will serve as a hub for intelligence sharing, operational coordination, and capacity building throughout our region.

“Additionally, we must strengthen existing counter-terrorism structures such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU) Abuja, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) in Addis Ababa.

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“A Regional Standby Force that includes tackling terrorism as part of its mandate must not be abandoned. I am mindful of the funding, legal and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force. However, with a prudent and clearly defined mandate that accords with the international law and respects national sovereignty such a force can serve as a rapid deployment mechanism, capable of swiftly responding to major threats and bolstering the security of our region. Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large-scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources. We must continue to make careful yet meaningful progress toward this goal.

“Establishing an all-inclusive African Union Ministerial Committee on Counter-Terrorism is also a high priority as envisaged in the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly two years ago in May 2022. This would ensure that a forum of high-level government officials meets regularly to assess our counter-terrorism efforts and provide guidance on how to improve.

“For its part, Nigeria remains firmly committed to fighting terrorism and violent extremism. They are our most urgent national security threat. Our counter-terrorism capabilities have been enhanced through the enactment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act, establishing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). We have and will continue to take bold steps forward in safeguarding our nation and the wider region.

“Dedicated to coordinating and implementing counter-terrorism strategies, the NCTC significantly enhances our capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats. The Centre has become a platform; fostering greater collaboration among stakeholders and promoting synergy in our approach to fighting terrorism. Similarly, our security forces continue to demonstrate courage and dedication in the fight against terrorism, often at great personal risk. I am grateful for the selfless work and sacrifice of these patriotic men and women. They are the best of the best.

“I must also mention the ongoing need to halt the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) on the continent. No one state can solve this problem for itself. It requires continuous and concerted action by all of us. We need to reposition our regional organisations and build the capacity of our national institutions to effectively address this element of terrorism and violent extremism.

“Nigeria is committed to working with our regional partners to strengthen arms control measures, enhance border security, and disrupt the illicit trafficking networks that fuel terrorism and organised crime.

“In closing, let me state that we must make this meeting historic and productive.

“We must show our respective populations that we, as leaders, we must do more than speak nice words, we must leave here with real results.

“As leaders, let us show our people that their safety and welfare is paramount. May this conference be succinct and to the point. Let us keep rhetoric to a minimum.

“Let us be focused and dedicated to pinpointing and embarking on the meaningful and strong action needed to win the day and free our continent of violent extremists.

“May we do everything that is required of us to defeat this challenge so that five, ten or twenty years from now it is historians who will be meeting to discuss how today became a major turning point in the African continent’s defeat of the terrorist scourge.”