Experts have raised concerns over the porosity of Nigeria’s borders, leading to illicit movement of arms , which is fueling terrorist activities in North-East Nigeria.
Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACFEST), Commodore Yaminu Musa (rtd), raised this concern at a three-day workshop on joint border control and enhanced regional cooperation to combat terrorism held recently in Lagos.
Speaking at the workshop organized by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Commodore Musa, revealed that terrorists take undue advantage of the porous borders, crisscross the border lines and perpetrate crime.
“There is credible intelligence indicating downward movements of weapons from Libya following the continuous assault on ISIS forces in Sirte. There is also mass smuggling of small arms and light weapons (SALW) from Northern Mali.
“These smuggled arms most times find their ways through the porous and extensive Sahel region into Nigeria”, he said. Due to the large expanse of lands and water, the challenge of securing the country’s border is enormous, Commodore Musa explained.
“Along our maritime borders, there are challenges of piracy, illegal oil bunkering, militancy, kidnapping for ransom among other criminalities. These challenges are enormous and worrisome considering the large expanse of lands and waters that need to be secured at huge cost to Nigeria and also to her neighbours.
The prevailing challenge of border security posed by the activities of Boko Haram terrorists who criss-cross the borders in search of safe havens and sustenance, remains an utmost priority. This challenge is common to the four Lake Chad Basin countries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is providing an elaborate framework for collaboration between the armed forces of the concerned countries to address the situation. So far, this collaboration has been largely effective and has led to the massive degrading of the BHTs and their dislodgement from their stronghold, the Sambisa Forest”, he noted.
In order to combat terrorists’ activities, UNODC Nigerian Representative, Christina Albertin, said there is need to enhance cooperation between Nigeria’s border countries, hence the reason for the workshop. The spillover of Boko Haram into the neighbouring Lake Chad Basin countries is now an internationally recognized problem, which has caused a full-fledged humanitarian crisis with millions of displaced people in need of immediate assistance.
The UN Security Council, which visited the Lake Chad Basin region recently, has raised deep concerns over increased Boko Haram operations across the Nigerian border as well as over the forced recruitments from tribal communities and possible infiltration of IDP populations as well as over the exploitation of women and children as suicide bombers, she mentioned.
The workshop which was funded by the European Union, UNODC and Japan, brought together security experts and delegates from Nigeria, the Chad, Niger, The Republic of Benin and Cameroon, to deliberate on border security issues and proffer solution