Tinubu: External Funding Fuelling Illegal Mining, Terrorism In Africa

* Says global community owes Africa a duty in fight against illegal activities 

* Calls for regional counter-terrorism centre to combat terrorism in Africa

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

President Bola Tinubu has accused the global community of being responsible for the disturbing rise in illegal mining, illicit funds flow and terrorism funding in Africa, saying they owe the continent and must be ready to help in the fight to eradicate the menace.

The president also emphasized the need for African countries to strengthen regional cooperation and institution-building to address the evolving threat of terrorism on the continent, stressing that terrorism poses a significant threat to peace, security and development in Africa.

President Tinubu, who spoke on Monday while declaring open a two-day African high-level meeting on counter-terrorism in Abuja, emphasised that it is actually the fund from other countries that has been fuelling illegal mining in Africa, which has in turn been funding terrorism.

According to him, illegal mining, which has robbed countries on the continent of the natural resources that government ought to have been deployed to meeting their national needs, are now being hijacked by terrorist groups in exchange for foreign cash, which is in turn used to buy more arms and ammunition.   

His words: “While we seek to address the root causes of terrorism, we must also attack the roots that feed this evil branch. Evolving from the tactics of yesterday, terrorism is becoming a greater threat as it perfects ways to continuously finance, re-equip and re-supply itself for its sinister mission. 

“Not only does it kidnap people, it kidnaps precious resources. Billions upon billions of dollars that legitimate governments should be using to sculpt better societies by providing education, health care and food for its people now go to pay for weapons and mayhem.

“Look at the illegal mining that plagues so many of our nations today. Those who think illegal mining has no connection with financing terrorism are sorely mistaken. The international community has both the moral and legal obligation to help in this cause because it is outside money not African money that fuels the illegal operations. 

“We shall be knocking on this door of the international community to answer this call for justice, peace and fair play.”

The president, however, added that the African region must strengthen existing counter-terrorism structures, such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU) in Abuja, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers, and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) in Addis Ababa. 

He underscored the importance of a regional standby force that includes tackling terrorism as part of its mandate, declaring: “It must not be abandoned.

“I am mindful of the funding, legal and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force. However, with a prudent and clearly defined mandate that accords with the international law and respects national sovereignty, such a force can serve as a rapid deployment mechanism, capable of swiftly responding to major threats and bolstering the security of our region. 

“Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources. We must continue to make careful yet meaningful progress toward this goal. 

“Establishing an all-inclusive African Union Ministerial Committee on Counter Terrorism is also a high priority as envisaged in the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly two years ago in May 2022. This would ensure that a forum of high-level government officials meets regularly to assess our counter-terrorism efforts and provide guidance on how to further improve.

“Key to our collective efforts against terrorism is the urgent need for a fully operational Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre.” 

Speaking on the efforts of Nigeria in beating the menace, President Tinubu said the nation’s counter-terrorism capabilities have been enhanced through the enactment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act, establishing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). 

“We have and will continue to take bold steps forward in safeguarding our nation and the wider region. Dedicated to coordinating and implementing counter-terrorism strategies, the NCTC significantly enhances our capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats. The Centre has become a platform; fostering greater collaboration among stakeholders and promoting synergy in our approach to fighting terrorism. 

“Similarly, our security forces continue to demonstrate courage and dedication in the fight against terrorism, often at great personal risk. I am grateful to the selfless work and sacrifice of these patriotic men and women. They are the best of the best. 

“I must also mention the ongoing need to halt the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) on the continent. No one state can solve this problem for itself. It requires continuous and concerted action by all of us. We need to reposition our regional organizations and build the capacity of our national institutions to effectively address this element of terrorism and violent extremism,” he further stated.

The president affirmed that Nigeria is committed to working with regional partners to strengthen arms control measures, enhance border security, and disrupt the illicit trafficking networks that fuel terrorism and organized crime, while urging firm and expeditious actions against prevailing insecurity on the continent.

“As leaders, let us show our people that their safety and welfare are paramount. May this conference be succinct and to the point. Let us keep rhetoric to a minimum. Let us be focused and dedicated to pinpointing solutions and embarking on the meaningful and strong action needed to win the day and free our continent of violent extremists.

“May we do everything that is required of us to defeat this challenge so that five, 10 or 20 years from now, it is historians who will be meeting to discuss how today became a major turning point in the African continent’s defeat of the terrorist scourge,” President Tinubu concluded.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, stated that terrorism in Africa is driven by a number of factors, including organized crime, foreign terrorist financing and training, poverty, inequality and prolonged conflicts, among others.

According to him, Nigeria is dealing decisively with all drivers of violent extremism, including economic and social enablers, while enhancing intelligence gathering through enhanced inter-agency collaboration and confidence building with citizens.

He also said Nigeria is strengthening its judiciary to effectively deal with cases of terrorism and has earmarked a fund to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

“We have resumed the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects across the country,” Ribadu said.

Also speaking, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms. Amina Mohammed, suggested that one of the ways to remove the engenderers of terrorism on the continent is for Africa to work to rebuild its social contract with its citizens and deliver good governance. 

“Rebuilding the social contract is necessary for recovery. We must pay attention to women and girls who are greatly impacted by terrorism, including the youth. Providing support and healing for those impacted by terrorism is important,” she said.

On his part, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, commended Nigeria for its leadership in counter-terrorism in Africa and for hosting the meeting.

According to him, “Terrorism is a threat to peace and security, particularly in Africa where its impact is mostly felt. The success of UNOCT in Africa hinges on its support for Africa-led programmes and solutions.”

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