Sahel-Saharan Defence Ministers Call for Establishment of Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre

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• Raise concern over expansion of terrorist activities

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Ministers of member countries of the Community of Sahel-Saharan State (CEN-CAD), have  called for the immediate establishment of a regional  Counter Terrorism Centre to collectively curb the growing terrorist activities.

Chaired by the Nigerian Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), the security leaders raised concerns over the upsurge and expansion of activities within the region.

The ministers made the call in a communique issued yesterday at the end of the 7th Meeting of Minister in Charge of Defence of CEN-SAD Member States, tagged : “Abuja Declaration”.

They noted that the opening of the Counter-terrorism unit was with a view to accelerate cooperation in the various areas related to fight against terrorism.

The meeting also pledged to launch joint military maneuvers by CEN-SAD member countries to strengthen the response and action capabilities of the various defence and security forces.

The ministers disclosed that there was a need to intensify bilateral, multilateral and sub-regional security and military cooperation among member countries.

“We are committed to support all regional initiative in the fight against terrorism (Multi Joint Task Force, G5 Sahel, FLG, etc.) with a view to eradicating terrorists activities and thus enabling development  actions in favour of the populations, and exchange the African Union Peace and Security Council to take into   consideration CEN-SAD’s efforts in this field,” the declaration stated.

CEN-SAD is a sub-regional organisation established in Tripoli, Libya on February 4, 1998, following a summit of Heads of State of Libya, Niger, Mali,Sudan and Chad. She said the organisation which rotates the hosting rights amongst its Arabic, Francophone and Anglophone member-countries  has since increased to 28 all-African member-states.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Nuratu Batagarawa, had at a pre-event briefing  noted that each Conference focuses on one among a wide ranging of issues, such as Agriculture, Education, Environment and Interior matters, while the choice of the focal area determines the Ministries/Departments of member-countries whose heads will constitute the participants.

To this end, she said the just concluded conference hosted by Nigeria was for the Ministers of Defence of member-states, focusing on Defence and Security issues, with its theme being “Consolidating the Achievements of the Fight Against Terrorism through Solidarity Development Actions”.

Batagarawa said the 7th Meeting of the CEN-SAD Ministers of Defence, offered member-states another golden opportunity to share experiences and re-invigorate  the concerted efforts at making the Shahel-Saharan sub-Region safer and much more peaceful for the people.