President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday backed the planned creation of the African Standby Force on Terrorism, saying the move would help tackle criminal activities on the continent.
Buhari had on Thursday departed Abuja for the African Union Extra-ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, with a special focus on security.
The three-day summit, which will hold on May 26th-28th, will also focus on Humanitarian Challenges in Africa, with related issues on migration, refugees, returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons.
In his speech, President Buhari said resources meant for the development of countries had been channelled into fighting violent crimes, leaving many governments with fewer options for investing in people to meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goals.
According to a statement issued by his media aide, Garba Shehu, President Buhari highlighted four items on the recommendation for immediate action based on the presentation of a report on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa at the meeting.
He said, “It is for this reason, Mr. Chairperson, that we endorse the key recommendations contained in your report. Some of the recommendations which we believe should be implemented immediately include;
“Increasing troop levels in situations of combating terrorism, and enhancing intelligence capabilities of deployed troops, including improving the operational cooperation of contingents in the operation areas;
“Ensuring the readiness of the African Standby Force for immediate response when a Member State is under terrorist threat;
“Strengthening the fight against cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking, smuggling of persons and counterfeit goods, which facilitate terrorist financing; and
“Ensuring that specialized institutions like the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism and AFRIPOL, are adequately resourced in order for them to effectively discharge their mandate.”
The President underscored the need for political will to forge a “Coordinated Continental Approach to tackling insecurity.”
He said the recommendations if implemented, will go a long way in increasing the capacity of affected States to respond to the threats posed by terrorists and violent extremists in their respective countries.