•28 actions to be taken before end of the year
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Federal Government has signed agreement with France to share Intelligence, equipment as well as other technical and tactical cooperation in the ongoing operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
This agreement was signed yesterday in Abuja by the Ministers of Defence of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali (rtd) and his French Counterpart, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Dan-Ali commended the move by both countries to work together through shared interest to eliminate terrorism from Nigeria, Lake Chad Basin region ad West Africa.
According to him, “Nigeria is signing the agreement, because it is a global threat, therefore, most countries of world at this time are uniting to fight it with a view to restoring the shared values of peace and tolerance for development”.
The minister also lauded what he noted as the long standing mutual cooperation and understanding between both countries and called for sustained interventions that further strengthen the unity of Nigeria and her Francophone neighbours.
He disclosed that the visit was to finalise the agreement reached by the Higher Defence Committee that had earlier addressed technical issues such as the “Lake Chad basin Commission, Multi-National Joint Task Force, Gulf of Guinea, military Technical Cooperation, Intelligence Sharing and equipment procurement and Maintenance issues, and finally, a watershed to the first Regional Security Summit of West African leaders and the Cameroon in 2014”.
Responding, Le Drian assured that the technical cooperation and strategies outlined in the agreement would achieve the desired result.
He said: “The strategic dialogue is centred around the four issues earlier mentioned by the Minister.
“Our strategic engagement to express our willingness to discuss issues of defence and common interest and again our operational cooperation, which would be implemented by the French military forces, whose Commander is here with us.”
“Strengthening our collaboration in area of intelligence sharing both at the bilateral and multi lateral levels. Cooperation in areas of armament and equipment, sharing concerns of equipment and their mode of procurement,” he added.
The French Defence minister reminded that both countries’ militaries had worked together in the past, promising that his team would ratify whatever is required of cooperation within the template to be effective.
”The operational cooperation document which comprise the 28 actions to be taken between now and the end of the year. That is the immediate concrete side of the dynamics that is marking our relationship,” he state.
In the same vein, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Amb. Danjuma Sheni, who read the Communique said both countries have agreed “in promoting multilateral intelligence sharing in support of the multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Sheni said “that France would provide technical advise on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to the armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), both countries would hold yearly review of AFN participation on course offered by France especially in the areas of basic and advanced intelligence courses and Basic and advanced course on imagery, including Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI).”
He read other agreement to include that France will assist in the analysis of Boko Haram recovered assets shared the products of the analysis with the Armed Forces of Nigeria, they also endorsed Joint Border Exercises proposed by the elements of the French Forces in Senegal (EFS) for the 3rd quarter in Nigeria to assist in strengthening cooperation between the neighbouring countries.
In addition, he stated that the 28 areas of agreement also include “the assistance of France to identify credible manufacturers, arrange capacity building and negotiation with France equipment manufacturers, deliberate extensively on how the list of defence equipment presented by the Nigerian team could be procured/acquired to enhance value for money, share experience on the processes involved in establishing and managing of Imagery center”.