Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Nigerian army will intensify its crackdown on the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram with a view to ending its siege in the North Eastern part of the country.

The President gave the assurance at a news conference in Niamey during his first official foreign trip to Niger on Wednesday, June 3. “I renew my commitment to track Boko Haram into a corner, to destroy it. Five years of the presence of this evil sect is enough,” Buhari said.

According to him, the Nigerian military will take a bigger role in the effort to crush Boko Haram under his reign as Commander-in-Chief with initial taking over from soldiers from Niger in occupying towns liberated from the insurgents. “On the issue of the Niger military positioned in cities of Nigeria … I think in the next four weeks we will be able to replace them with Nigerian forces so they can return to their country,” he said.

Buhari said the other nations would provide weapons and help restore the infrastructure destroyed by the insurgents. He also thanked Niger Republic for hosting as many as 150,000 refugees who fled insecurity in Nigeria to that country.

Niger and Chad played a leading role earlier this year in driving the insurgents from towns in North Eastern Nigeria including Malam Fatori and Damasak, partly because of the weakness of the Nigerian army.

The President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou has also promised that a new multinational force of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin to combat the insurgency in the Lake Chad region will become operational in the coming weeks as part of efforts to  put an end to  the insurgency in that part of the West African sub-region. “Niger is ready to finish with Boko Haram and protect its borders, its people and their property,” Issoufou said.

Boko Haram first launched its insurgency in Nigeria 2009, attacking towns and villages and killing thousands of people in pursuit of its ignoble mission of Islamising the Northern Nigeria. The abduction of about 200 school girls from Chibuk in April 2014 by the insurgents provoked outrage across the world.

By Olisemeka Obeche (with agency reports)


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