News May 18, 2016 at 06:00 am

France to Assist Nigeria in Fight Against Boko Haram

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi May 18, 2016 at 06:00 am

May 18, 2016 at 06:00 am | News

Boko Haram spokesman Abubakar Shekau, flanked by his men. (Photo: www.bbc.com)

France has agreed to strengthen its military aid to Nigeria in a military cooperation deal aimed at reinforcing the fight against Boko Haram.

President Francois Hollande of France and his Nigerian counterpart President Muhammadu Buhari signed a letter of intent when they met in Abuja last weekend at an international conference on fighting Boko Haram.

Promising to set up an aid project in the Lake Chad Region, the French President referred to Boko Haram as the most-murderous terrorist group in the world, adding that France shares in the pain caused by the West African militant group.

“On the issue of Boko Haram, when there is a threat to a country in Africa, there is a threat to France,” President Hollande said.

With the new deal, French soldiers will be able to share intelligence and expertise with their Nigerian counterparts, including satellite images.

The agreement will also see Boko Haram militants prosecuted in France.

Bombings & Abductions

Over the last seven years, Nigeria has experienced some of the deadliest terror attacks by Boko Haram, a terror group that affiliates itself with the Islamic State in Syria.

The group has also been involved in a spate of kidnappings in Nigeria, including the kidnapping of more than 200 hundred teenage girls from Chibok Government School in May 2014. The girls are still missing.

According to the Nigerian government, the seven-year-long war with Boko Haram has left thousands of people dead and caused $9 billion worth of damages. The jihadist group uses suicide bombings and massacres in remote villages to spread terror, which is now spilling over to neighboring countries, such as Chad and Cameroon.

Joint Military Onslaught

Currently, five countries, including Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and the Republic of Benin, are involved in the Anti-Boko Haram campaign along their national borders with Nigeria.

Speaking at the commencement of the Abuja conference, which brought together heads of state from the aforementioned five countries and representatives from the United States, European Union, and United Kingdom, President Buhari said the summit had provided a perfect opportunity for the countries to evaluate their progress in the fight against Boko Haram.

“We must take the opportunity this summit presents to evaluate the successes we have achieved, consolidate the gains, identify any shortcomings we have experienced, and then draw important lessons,” President Buhari said.

The militant group was dealt a huge blow last week, after their leader, Boukar Kaou, was captured in a joint military operation from Cameroon and Nigeria. According to the Cameroonian government, the attack left more than 58 Boko Haram militants dead and 46 hostages rescued.

The proposed military cooperation between Nigeria and France is expected to step up the fight against Boko Haram and restore peace in the oil-rich country.

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