The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Farouk Yahaya has said there is need for militaries of West African countries to cooperate in areas of tackling transnational crimes like movement and smuggling of illicit arms and drugs across borders noting that these crimes were the sources of insurgency and banditry in the West African region.
Speaking when he received the Inspector General of the Senegalese Armed Forces, Major General Elhadji Daouda Niang at Army headquarters on Monday, General Yahaya said, “Even the criminals cooperate; that is why some of the crimes are trans-national crimes. It is now expedient for us (militaries) to cooperate with a view to breaking that chain and overcome them”
“One of the areas to strengthen this cooperation is to halt this movement of small arms and light weapons and drugs. Sometimes, it includes money laundering. Of most importance, are the challenges of insurgency and banditry in several of our countries which is exacerbated by these arms and ammunition”
The COAS recalled that during the days of the Liberian Civil War, ECOMOG, the ECOWAS intervention force, cooperated very well in tackling the various combatants and helping to keep Liberia and later Sierra Leone together.
“Other areas in which we can strengthen cooperation is that of training. The more we train together and interact, the better because criminal elements from several countries are learning from each other. We have training teams ready to be deployed to train fellow countries in need”. He said.
“So we look forward to building this cooperation particularly on issues of mutual and common interest”, he added.
Earlier, the Inspector General of Senegalese Armed Forces said he and his team were in Nigeria to strengthen the relations between Nigeria and Senegal adding that he was also in Nigeria to tap from the wealth of experience of the Nigerian Military as his country (Senegal) was currently facing similar security challenges.
Recalling his sojourn in ECOMOG, Major General Elhadji Niang said, “I served in ECOMOG from 1991 to 1993. I had opportunity to see firsthand, Nigerian Army in operation. What Nigerian Army achieved marveled the Europeans and they (Europeans) did not achieve it during the crisis”.
“So I am here to learn from you (Army), the Air force, the Navy, your wealth of experience on how to tackle the challenges because we are having similar issues. I want to also thank you for facilitating my visit to the minister of Defence, Nigeria and my planned visit to the Nigerian Defence Academy.”