French President Says Boko Haram Remains a Threat

  • Pledges to Support Nigeria in Fight Against Terrorism

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

French President Francois Hollande has told President Muhammadu Buhari not to relent in the fight against Boko Haram, saying that despite recent sucesses, the sect remains a threat.

Hollande, who was on an official visit to Nigeria, said this at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Saturday during a joint press conference with Buhari shortly after both leaders had held bilateral talks.

This was before the second regional security summit hosted by Buhari in furtherance of his administration’s efforts towards enhancing the security of lives, properties and investments in Nigeria and neighbouring nations.

The French leader also observed that terrorism ‎was feeding on the weaknesses of the global financial system.

He said to combat terrorism, the global community had to fight corruption, dwindling economy “as well as tax havens.”

He added: “And this has indeed an impact on the terrorist groups and their ability to finance arms trafficking as well as terror attacks. Are we doing enough? We’ve achieved major progress already, ‎but this is not the end. So, we’ll continue to fight against all systems that enable all forms of trafficking.”

He said there had been impressive results in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents whom, he noted, had been weakened due to Buhari’s administration’s efforts and the cooperation of Nigeria’s neighbours.

He said France had been providing intelligence, training and equipment to support the missions of the Multinational Joint Task Force set up to contain Boko Haram.

Hollande said apart from signing a letter of intent that would further agreements in defence matters, he and Buhari also signed agreements on agriculture as well as on technical, scientific and cultural matters “as well as agreements on development. As you my know, the French Development Agency invests a lot in Nigeria which is the first beneficiary of its loans.”

Buhari, while responding to a question on his assessment of the current level of the threat by Boko Haram, said all the territories hitherto captured by the sect had been liberated.

He said: “When we came in, they were controlling 14 local governments where the hoisted a flag and declared it a republic or a kind of caliphate of some sort. But now, they’re not holding any local government. They’re exploiting available technology in terms of using improvised explosive device on soft targets–in mosques, churches, markets and motor parks.

“On the internally displaced persons, more than 60 percent of them are women and children, and more than 60 percent of the children are orphans. This is a pathetic situation and is a major problem we’re going to face in this country.”