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JUST IN: Foreign cash fuelling illegal mining, terrorism in Africa, says Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu has pointed out the role played by the global community in the escalation of illegal mining, illicit funds flow, and terrorism funding in Africa, saying they owe the continent and must help in the ongoing war against the menaces.

President Tinubu also emphasised the need for African countries to strengthen regional cooperation and institution-building to address the evolving threat of terrorism on the continent, stressing that terrorism poses a significant threat to peace, security, and development in Africa.

The president spoke on Monday, April 22, at the opening ceremony of a two-day African High-Level Meeting on Counter-terrorism, hosted by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Abuja, emphasising that it is money from other places that have been fuelling illegal mining in Africa, which has in turn been funding terrorism.

President Tinubu’s message at the meeting, which was themed ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Institution Building to Address Evolving Threats of Terrorism’, was contained in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale.

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According to him, illegal mining, which has robbed countries on the continent of the natural resources that the government ought to have been deployed to meet their national needs is now being hijacked by terrorist groups in exchange for foreign cash, which is in turn used to buy more arms and ammunition. 

“While we seek to address the root causes of terrorism, we must also attack the roots that feed this evil branch. Evolving from the tactics of yesterday, terrorism is becoming a greater threat as it perfects ways to continuously finance, re-equip, and re-supply itself for its sinister mission.

“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, health care, and food for its people now go to pay for weapons and 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 outside money not African money that fuels the illegal operations.

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“We shall be knocking on this door of the international community to answer this call for justice, peace, and fair play”, he said.

Emphasizing the havoc of terrorism on the lives of the people and their nations, he said: “Terrorism snipes at the very fabric of the tranquil, prosperous, and just societies we seek to build for ourselves and our children. It seeks to frighten the farmer from his field, children from their schools, women from the marketplace, and families from their very homes”, the President said.

“Terror cannot co-exist in the same space as democracy and good governance, just as darkness and light cannot endure in the same room at the same time”, he said.

He emphasized that terrorism has no respect for national boundaries, ethnic bloodlines, or religious creeds, and therefore requires a comprehensive and collective approach to combat it.

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“We must address the root causes of extremism, such as poverty, marginalization, and social injustice. However, this important fact should not become empty rhetoric, devoid of meaning or action”, he added.

President Tinubu highlighted the need for a fully operational Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre to serve as a hub for intelligence sharing, operational coordination, and capacity building.

He also emphasized the importance of strengthening existing counter-terrorism structures, such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU), the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA).

Furthermore, President Tinubu stressed the need for a Regional Standby Force that includes tackling terrorism as part of its mandate saying “Such a force can serve as a rapid deployment mechanism, capable of swiftly responding to major threats and bolstering the security of our region.

“It can stand as a strong deterrent to large-scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation, or disruption of strategic land and resources”, he said.

In addition, the President called for the establishment of an all-inclusive African Union Ministerial Committee on Counter-Terrorism to ensure that high-level government officials meet regularly to assess counter-terrorism efforts and provide guidance on how to improve.

Nigeria, he said, remains firmly committed to fighting terrorism and violent extremism, and has taken bold steps to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities through the enactment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act and the establishment of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

“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”, he said.

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President Tinubu also highlighted the need to halt the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) on the continent, noting “No one state can solve this problem for itself. It requires continuous and concerted action by all of us.

Read Also: BREAKING: Court acquits Ex-NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi, one other of N8.5BN fraud

“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”, he said.

In closing, President Tinubu called on African leaders to work together to defeat terrorism and ensure peace and security on the continent saying “Let us show our respective populations that we, as leaders, are committed to their safety and welfare.

“Let us leave here with real results. May this conference be succinct and to the point. Let us be focused and dedicated to pinpointing and embarking on the meaningful and strong action needed to win the day and free our continent of violent extremists”, he said.

The African High-Level Meeting on Counter-Terrorism brings together leaders and experts from across the continent to discuss ways to strengthen regional cooperation and institution-building to combat terrorism.

The meeting is expected to produce a communiqué outlining concrete steps to be taken to address the evolving threat of terrorism in Africa.

In his welcome remarks, National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu stated that terrorism in Africa is driven by several factors, including organized crime, foreign terrorist financing and training, poverty, inequality, and prolonged conflicts, among others.

He said Nigeria is dealing decisively with all drivers of violent extremism, including economic and social enablers while enhancing intelligence gathering through enhanced inter-agency collaboration and confidence building with citizens.

He also said Nigeria is strengthening its judiciary to effectively deal with cases of terrorism and has earmarked a fund to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

“We have resumed the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects across the country,” the National Security Adviser said.

Read Also: Kanayo O. Kanayo lauds Tinubu for Third Mainland bridge repair

In her remarks, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms. Amina Mohammed suggested that one of the ways to remove the engenderers of terrorism on the continent is for Africa to work to rebuild its social contract with its citizens and deliver good governance.

“Rebuilding the social contract is necessary for recovery.

“We must pay attention to women and girls who are greatly impacted by terrorism, including the youth. Providing support and healing for those impacted by terrorism is important,” the UN Deputy Secretary-General said.

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Mr. Vladimir Voronkov commended Nigeria for its leadership in counter-terrorism in Africa and for hosting the meeting.

“Terrorism is a threat to peace and security, particularly in Africa where its impact is mostly felt. The success of UNOCT in Africa hinges on its support for Africa-led programmes and solutions,” the UNOCT Under-Secretary-General said.

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