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African leaders discuss counter-terrorism strategies in Abuja

Guests at the Counter terrorism conference in Abuja
Guests at the Counter terrorism conference in Abuja

The African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) has revealed alarming statistics indicating that Africa grappled with an average of eight terrorism-related incidents and 44 casualties per day throughout the year 2023. These grim figures encompassed a devastating toll of 7,000 civilian lives lost alongside 4,000 military personnel killed in various attacks across the continent. Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, who spearheaded the high-level summit, underscored the pressing urgency to confront the scourge of terrorism head-on. Ribadu emphasized the multifaceted nature of the threats posed by terrorist organizations and stressed the critical importance of implementing comprehensive security strategies that integrate military, economic, and regional cooperation efforts.

The challenges facing Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, are particularly pronounced, with the country locked in a relentless battle against insurgent groups for over a decade and a half. These groups have entrenched themselves in strongholds scattered throughout the troubled Sahel region, leaving a trail of destruction and claiming thousands of lives in their wake.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria, who also chairs the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, called for the establishment and bolstering of a regional standby military force. This force, initially proposed in response to the July 2023 coup in Niger, is seen as a crucial deterrent against large-scale terrorist operations. However, the region’s ongoing political instability has hindered efforts to achieve the necessary level of regional unity required for such initiatives. This was evident in the absence of leaders from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger at the summit, who faced sanctions due to recent coups in their respective countries.

Amidst these challenges, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe highlighted the paramount importance of cooperation among African states and their defense and security forces to effectively address the ever-evolving security threats facing the continent.

The two-day counter-terrorism summit, backed by the United Nations and attended by key stakeholders including the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, aimed to chart a course of action to combat terrorism comprehensively across Africa. Tinubu and Faki both called upon the international community to ramp up its support for Africa’s fight against terrorism, questioning why similar coalitions seen in other regions of the world have yet to materialize in Africa, despite the devastating toll that terrorism has exacted on the continent’s people, infrastructure, and institutions.

Guests at the Counter terrorism conference in Abuja

    African leaders at the Counter terrorism conference in Abuja
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