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We’ll approach int’l community to help stop illegal mining fueling terrorism —Tinubu



Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, stated that African leaders will approach the international community in efforts to halt the illegal mining of resources in the continent which is being used to fund terrorists’ activities.

The president spoke at the opening ceremony of the African Counter-Terrorism Summit in Abuja, noting that the African region must be strengthened to include 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.

Speaking further, President Tinubu said terrorism must be banished, as the menace threatens farmers from their farms, children from their schools, and businesswomen from their sources of livelihood, thereby putting society and government into confusion and disarray.

He added that the fight against terrorism required a collective approach and that the root causes must be addressed.

“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, healthcare, and food for its people now go to pay for weapons and response to 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 external finance, not African money, that fuels these illegal operations. We shall be knocking on the door of the international community to answer this call for justice, peace, and fair play”.

He also renewed a call for the strengthening of regional standby force, which will serve as a rapid deployment tool in combating both existing and emerging threats, while also serving as a deterrence to large-scale weapon smuggling.

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 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,” the President said.

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

On efforts Nigeria is making to beat the menace of terrorism, 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.

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“Similarly, our security forces continue to demonstrate courage and dedication in the fight against terrorism, often at great personal risk. I am grateful for 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,” the President stated.

He further affirmed that Nigeria was committed to working with regional partners to strengthen arms control measures, enhance border security, and disrupt the illicit trafficking networks that fuel terrorism and organised 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, ten or twenty 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.

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