Border Closure Failed To Stop Smuggling Of Illegal Arms Into Nigeria – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says if Libya remains unstable, illegal arms and ammunition will continue to flow into the Sahel region of the African continent.
The Sahel region includes parts of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
Buhari said the closure of Nigeria’s land borders for over a year did not stop the influx of illegal arms.
According to a statement by Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, Buhari spoke on Thursday at the state house, Abuja, when he received Mohammed Ibn Chambas, outgoing special representative of the United Nations secretary-general.
Chambas is also the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).
Buhari was quoted as saying Muammar Gadaffi, ex-Libyan president, held a grip on power in Libya by recruiting armed guards from different countries, who then escaped with their arms when “the Libyan strongman was killed”.
A recent report by SBM Intelligence had said that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons has driven the rise in violence in Nigeria.
“They didn’t learn any other skill than to shoot and kill. So, they are a problem all over the Sahel countries today,” Buhari was quoted as saying.
“We closed our land borders here for more than a year, but arms and ammunition continued to flow illegally. As far as Libya remains unstable, so will the problem remain.
“We have to cope with the problems of development, as we can’t play hop, step and jump. But we will eventually overcome those problems.”
The president described Chambas, who spent many years in Nigeria in different capacities, as “more of a Nigerian than anything else”.
Responding, Chambas thanked Buhari “for personal support I received from you, and from Nigeria as a country,” adding that the country will continue to play a leadership role on the continent.
On terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, Chambas said Nigeria was playing a yeoman’s role, particularly in giving support to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).