Boko Haram took advantage of COVID-19 pandemic to push back to Nigeria – Buhari says

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Boko Haram insurgents have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to launch attacks in Nigeria.

This was contained in an article published on Tuesday in Le Point, a French weekly magazine.

It could be recalled that President Buhari on Sunday departed Abuja for France ahead of a finance summit for African countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Discussions at the summit which held on Tuesday, revolved around growing security threats in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, climate change, economic ties, political relations, and health.

In the article, Buhari said Nigeria and France have a common enemy like COVID-19, which is terrorism, adding that both countries need collaboration to effectively address the situation.

“Today, leaders from across Africa meet in Paris to discuss plans to recover from the impact of a common enemy – COVID-19. But for African nations from across the Sahel region and beyond, the issues are inseparable from the fight against another common enemy which is terrorism. And like the war against the Coronavirus, it is one we are fully united with France in our strong determination to overcome,”

“Across the world, conflict and Coronavirus have not been far apart. As governments have struggled to contain COVID, jihadists have taken advantage in the Sahel – the vast arid stretch of territory that lies between the Sahara and Sub-Saharan Africa. Terrorist incidents have become tragically common across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Around the Lake Chad Basin, Boko Haram terrorism have taken advantage of the pandemic and pushed back into my country Nigeria, whilst still launching raids and attacks in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.”

He also called for deeper cooperation between France and Nigeria in order to defeat insurgents and curb insecurity.

“Now Nigeria and France should deepen our anti-terror cooperations if we are to overcome this scourge – particularly in the aftermath of the murder of the late President of Chad. Where for historical ties, support came to Nigeria from the UK, and to the G5 from France, the terrorists do not recognise these border-aligned distinctions. We must be agile and flexible, cooperating cross our borders to cut the head off their groups,” he said.

“Indeed, we have already done much to strengthen our bond. Intelligence sharing is well developed, along with training against improvised explosives. But there is more we can do in cross-border military exercises and coordinating strategy.

“At the same time, we know France has borne much of the strain for combating terrorism of the region, and we – the leaders of Sahel countries – must also do more to present a unified front to lobby other Western nations, particularly Great Britain and the United States and the European Union for further military and humanitarian assistance.”

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