By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama yesterday disclosed that the federal government was discussing with China and other friendly countries for the supply of required arms and equipment needed to finish the ongoing war against Boko Haram.
Onyema disclosed this yesterday during a media chat in Abuja at the ongoing 2nd Regional Security Summit with the Theme: “Consolidating Collective efforts for Regional Peace and Development.”
He stated this in response to the request by the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) for a number of platforms, weapons, and logistics required for sustaining the ongoing operations in the North-east and Lake Chad Basin area that has contiguous borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroun.
“The MNJTF has made tremendous progress in the last one year. Like Mr. President alluded there was a time about 14 local government areas were under the Boko Haram control but today, they are no longer in control. We are also working together with the frontline states in the areas of intelligence sharing. So, in the military dimension we are going to look at the mechanism of cooperation and coordination.
“On the need for more weapons and other, we are engaging with various partners like China, which has asked us to indicate where we will need military assistance and as well as other Western countries. The goodwill is there for assistance from our friends and partners. So, it’s just the resources and process to get the equipment,” he said.
The Commander of MNJTF, Maj-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, had earlier at the summit, disclosed that tremendous progress had been made by the security forces in the ongoing Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency operations (CT COIN) in parts of the North-east, with only minor challenge of Boko Haram remnants, landmine and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Adeosun also noted that despite the tremendous success at defeating the Boko Haram terrorists in the past one year, there was need for more financial resources to sustain security around the strategic region.
He listed some of challenges confronting them to include; “inadequate lift capability, limitation on IEDs/mine capability, inadequate amphibious equipment and lack of flat bottom boat, lack of air capability and difficulty in sustaining troops”.
He went further to recommend that “the MNJTF lift capability should be enhanced by the troop contributing countries; mine/IEDs detection and destruction equipment and capability should be enhanced across the sectors.
He also requested for adequate troops sustenance in terms of operational allowances, ration and fast-moving medical supplies.
He said flat bottom boats with outboard engines should be provided for MNJTF effective operations within the Lake Chad Islands.
“International organisations and other relevant partners should be encouraged to redeem their pledges for assistance in the provision of support to MNJTF and in support of humanitarian activities in the liberated areas within MNJTF area of responsibility; and the heads of states should approve the upgrade of Sub Sector 3 to Sector 4 with a strength of 2000 troops as proposed”.
Speaking further, the Commander said that MNJTF in its present state and with the provision of adequate support would effectively deliver its mandate.
He added that the body has high potentials not only to remain a permanent solution to insecurity within the Lake Chad Basin, “it will eventually remain as a positive symbol of unity and understanding, thereby breaking the barriers of artificial boundaries without compromising the territorial integrity of member states.”
Adeosun assured that the MNJTF and national operations has largely curbed the activities and threats of Boko Haram terrorists in the area by degrading their capability to carry out organised and coordinated offensive.
He listed major areas of achievement for the body to include: building confidence on the populace; continuous handling of IDPs and refugees by the various sectors and sub-sector within the MNJTF areas of operation; liberation of at least 4,690 hostages from January 2016 to date; excellent cooperation between the sectors/sub-sectors and national troops of the LCBC countries; and neutralisation of 675 terrorists and arrest of a total of 566 others with their logistics from January 2016 to date across all the sectors.
Adeosun listed other achievements for the last four months to include destruction of 32 terrorists’ camps and IEDs making factories as well as capturing/destruction of the terrorist equipment, which include 318 motorcycles, 84 vehicles, 137 assorted weapons, 18 boats and other logistics.