President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday that the ease with which Boko Haram terrorists raise funds and acquire sophisticated weapons to carry out attacks had become a matter of serious concern.
He added that the continuous spread of the menace of terrorism in the region and the growing link between terrorism and organised crime were equally worrisome, while noting that unless there was urgent cooperation among the leaders in the sub-region, terrorists could destabilise the sub-region.
Speaking at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Saturday when he addressed the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of the Economic Community of West African States’ Heads of State and Government on Counter-Terrorism, Buhari called on leaders of ECOWAS member states to step up efforts to end terrorism in the sub-region.
A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, quoted him (Buhari) as saying, “Our region has made commendable progress in the realisation of its regional integration and we must not allow terrorist groups to destabilise our Community (ECOWAS) and undermine the aspirations of our people for a safe, secure and prosperous environment.
“It is, therefore, our collective responsibility not to let up but to win the fight against terrorism and stamp out the scourge from our region.
“The frequency of attacks, the determination and resilience of the terrorist groups as well as the ease with which they raise funds and acquire sophisticated weapons are matters of serious concern, which should engage our attention as a Community.
‘’Equally worrisome is the continuous spread of the menace of terrorism in the region and the growing link between terrorism and organised crime. This is why we must not relent in our efforts until we defeat the monster completely.
“And the best way to achieve this objective is through coordinated regional actions and responses against terrorism, insurgency, banditry and inter-communal disputes, while we also put in place policies and measures that will address their root causes including the re-establishment and protection of livelihoods.”
Speaking on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin, he commended the efforts of the Multinational Joint Task Force in tackling insurgency in the area, adding that the place had become like an abode for the terrorists.
Meanwhile, the President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, announced at the summit that ECOWAS leaders had decided to mobilise “financial resources of up to a billion dollars for the fight against terrorism.”
He said the plan would be funded from 2020 to 2024. The summit was also attended by Mauritania (in North-West Africa) and Chad (in North-Central Africa).
Issoufou noted that the money would be paid into a common fund to help reinforce the military operations of the nations involved and those of the joint military operations in the region.
He said full details of the plan would be presented to the next ECOWAS summit in December.