The FG has stated that the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, are planning to team up with secessionist groups in Cameroon in order to destabilize both sister nations.
Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, made this disclosure while speaking yesterday, August 24, at the opening ceremony of the 8th session of Nigeria – Cameroon Trans-Border Security Committee meeting at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Monguno reiterated that Nigeria’s territory will never be used as a “haven or staging area” by any group of secessionists to destabilize another friendly sovereign country.
He pledged that Nigeria will work closely together to ensure that any real or perceived attempts to form any alliances between secessionist groups in Nigeria and Cameroon are decisively dealt with.
Monguno said: “We will continue to support the efforts of the Cameroonian authorities by engaging all aggrieved parties to de-escalate the security concerns in the North West and southwest regions of the country
“An emerging concern is the attempt by secessionist groups in Nigeria to form alliances with secessionist groups in Cameroon in order to destabilize both countries. Let me re-emphasize what I mentioned in my opening remarks during the 6th Session in 2019; President Muhammadu Buhari reassures you that Nigeria’s territory will never be used as a haven or staging area by any group of secessionists to destabilize another friendly sovereign country.
“In addition, we will work closely together to ensure that any real or perceived attempts to form any alliances between secessionist groups in Nigeria and Cameroon are decisively dealt with. Furthermore, we will continue to support the efforts of the Cameroonian authorities by engaging all aggrieved parties to de-escalate the security concerns in the North West and southwest regions of the country.
“The most dominant transnational security issue remains the threat of terrorism perpetrated by the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). These terrorist groups continue to exploit the porous border areas to disrupt the livelihoods of innocent citizens in their communities.
“At this point, I am glad to acknowledge that the close counter-terrorism collaboration between our two countries has significantly curtailed the activities of these terrorists as well as other forms of criminality. In this regard, you have consistently demonstrated your courage, resilience, commitment, and steadfastness towards ensuring peace and stability along with the border areas of Cameroon and Nigeria.
“It is however necessary to strongly reiterate that the work of securing our territorial borders is a collective responsibility and therefore we need to emphasize the importance of the sideline meetings of the Governors of contiguous border States/Regions. Their collaboration would no doubt assist in cross-border security and development initiatives.
“It is equally imperative to engage the border communities and the traditional/local authorities at the grassroot levels in translating the decisions of the Governors’ forum into concrete actions. This can be done through the activation of the Local Bilateral Committees which can also serve as platforms for integration and revival of our historical and socio-cultural ties.
“Our collective efforts under the auspices of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to significantly degrade terrorist activities in the Lake Chad Basin are yielding positive outcomes. This multilateral platform in collaboration with our international partners needs to be further enhanced as we are witnessing the gradual movement of some terrorist groups from the Maghreb to the Sahel in order to form alliances.
“Nonetheless, we are also promoting series of developmental efforts in the North-Eastern part of the country to rehabilitate most of the isolated communities affected by the wanton destruction committed by terrorists.”
Reiterating the importance of expanding trade and investment in order to create a more viable and stable economy for “our people”, Monguno said: “Nigeria is one of Cameroon’s largest trading partners despite the security concerns along some of the trading routes such as from Maiduguri to Kousseri or Maroua; Jabbi Lamba to Garoua; as well as from Enugu to Bamenda amongst others. Our two Presidents have earlier called for the development of these trans-boundary trade corridors which would no doubt serve as veritable platforms for the integration of ECOWAS and ECCAS sub-regions.
“However, to effectively achieve this feat, we must collectively address smuggling of prohibited items and irregular migration amongst other transnational organized crimes. Meanwhile, it is necessary to state that this trade relationship is further reinforced by the recent conferment on Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian businessman with Cameroon’s top civilian award – Commander of the National Order of Valour for his outstanding contribution to the infrastructural development of Cameroon through his cement plants.
“In addition, the newly constructed 1.5km, a two-lane bridge between Nigeria and Cameroon in Ekot-Mfum border area of Cross River State is designed to ease movement, facilitate trade, improve cross border security as well as strengthen relations between both countries.
“We must therefore consolidate our joint efforts to address all the current and emerging security threats affecting both countries. This is due to the grave and unintended consequences of allowing such threats to thrive in our environment. Clearly, this underscores the collective resolve of our Presidents to continue to promote peace and stability in our respective countries. I strongly believe that both countries will surmount the similar and varied security challenges and even emerge stronger and more united.”
In his remarks, Minister of the Territorial Administration, Republic of Cameroon, Mr. Atanga Nji Paul, declared the readiness of Cameroon to continue to work with Nigeria to intensify trans-border security along the two country’s borders citing a resurgence of attacks by Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorist groups and secessionists agitations as well as kidnapping and banditry.