Tinubu: External Funding Fuelling Illegal Mining, Terrorism in Africa

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•Says global community owes continent duty in fight against illegal activities  

•Calls for regional counter-terrorism centre to combat terrorism 

•Stresses Africa must address social injustice, poverty 

•President approves re-composition of NSWG for NEITI

Deji Elumoye and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has accused the global community of complicity in the disturbing rise in illegal mining, illicit financial flow and terrorism funding in Africa. Tinubu said the international community owed the continent a duty to assist in the fight to eradicate the menace.

Tinubu spoke yesterday in Abuja, while declaring open a two-day African High-Level Meeting on Counter-terrorism. He emphasised that it was funds from other continents that fuelled illegal mining in Africa, which had in turn been funding terrorism.

The president’s remarks came as he approved the reconstitution of a 15-man National Stakeholders’ Working Group (NSWG) for Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

Speaking at the African High-Level Meeting on Counter-terrorism in Abuja, the president also emphasised the need for African countries to strengthen regional cooperation and institution-building to address the evolving threat of terrorism on the continent. He stressed that terrorism posed a big threat to peace, security, and development in Africa.

The president said illegal mining had robbed countries on the continent of the natural resources that ought to have been deployed to meet citizens’ needs. He said the resources were now being hijacked by terrorist groups in exchange for foreign cash, which was used to buy arms and ammunition.  

According Ejike, “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.

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

Tinubu, however, said Africa must strengthen existing counter-terrorism structures, such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU) in Abuja, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers, and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) in Addis Ababa.

He underscored the importance of a regional standby force that included tackling terrorism as part of its mandate, declaring, “It must not be abandoned.”

Tinubu stated, “I am mindful of the funding, legal, and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force. However, with a prudent and clearly defined mandate that accords with the international law and respects national sovereignty, such a force can serve as a rapid deployment mechanism, capable of swiftly responding to major threats and bolstering the security of our region.

“Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources. We must continue to make careful yet meaningful progress toward this goal.”

He added, “Establishing an all-inclusive African Union Ministerial Committee on Counter Terrorism is also a high priority as envisaged in the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly two years ago in May 2022. This would ensure that a forum of high-level government officials meets regularly to assess our counter-terrorism efforts and provide guidance on how to further improve.

“Key to our collective efforts against terrorism is the urgent need for a fully operational regional counter-terrorism centre.”

The president also spoke on efforts by Nigeria to beat the menace. He said the country’s counter-terrorism capabilities had been enhanced through the enactment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act, establishing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

He stated, “We have and will continue to take bold steps forward in safeguarding our nation and the wider region. Dedicated to coordinating and implementing counter-terrorism strategies, the NCTC significantly enhances our capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats.

“The centre has become a platform; fostering greater collaboration among stakeholders and promoting synergy in our approach to fighting terrorism.

“Similarly, our security forces continue to demonstrate courage and dedication in the fight against terrorism, often at great personal risk. I am grateful to the selfless work and sacrifice of these patriotic men and women. They are the best of the best.

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

“We need to reposition our regional organisations and build the capacity of our national institutions to effectively address this element of terrorism and violent extremism.”

The president affirmed that Nigeria was committed to working with regional partners to strengthen arms control measures, enhance border security, and disrupt the illicit trafficking networks that fuelled terrorism and organised crime, while urging firm and expeditious actions against prevailing insecurity on the continent.

He said, “As leaders, let us show our people that their safety and welfare are paramount. May this conference be succinct and to the point. Let us keep rhetoric to a minimum. Let us be focused and dedicated to pinpointing solutions and embarking on the meaningful and strong action needed to win the day and free our continent of violent extremists.

“May we do everything that is required of us to defeat this challenge so that five, 10 or 20 years from now, it is historians who will be meeting to discuss how today became a major turning point in the African continent’s defeat of the terrorist scourge.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, stated that terrorism in Africa was driven by a number of factors, including organised crime, foreign terrorist financing and training, poverty, inequality, and prolonged conflicts, among others.

Ribadu said Nigeria was 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 was strengthening its judiciary to effectively deal with cases of terrorism and had earmarked a fund to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

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

Equally speaking, 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 was for Africa to work to rebuild its social contract with its citizens, and deliver good governance.

She said, “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.”

On his part, 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.

According to Voronkov, “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.”

Tinubu Approves Re-composition of NSWG for NEITI

Meanwhile, Tinubu approved the reconstitution of a 15-man National Stakeholders’ Working Group (NSWG) for Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). 

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. George Akume, would function as Chairman of NSWG, a statement yesterday by Director, Information and Public Relations, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Segun Imohiosen, said.

The statement said the membership of NSWG included Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Zacch Adedeji, member, government representative; Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, member, representative of extractive companies (oil and gas); Mr. Oghenegwueke Ajafia, member, Oil Producers Trade Section, Lagos Chamber of Commerce (OPTS);  President, Miners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Ayanleke, member, representative of extractive companies (mining); representative of the civil member (to be elected by the CSOs); and former President, Association of Professional Women Engineers, Mrs Nkechi Isigwe, member, representative of  Women/Geo-scientists.

Others were President, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Williams Apkoreha, member, representative of industries union in oil and gas; Musa Abdullahi Lawan, member, representative of North-west Zone; Abubakar Mu’azu, member, representative of North-east zone; Ambassador Matthew Sunday Adoli, member, representative from North-central zone; Olasupo Abdel-Jeleel Taiwo, member, representative of South-west zone; Chief Israel Ikechukwu Ikwuegbu, member, representative of South-east zone; Dr. Stephen Leo Akpan, member, representative of South-south zone; and Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Secretary to NSWG and Executive Secretary/CEO (in Office on five-year single tenure).

The statement added that the inauguration of the board would be announced in due course.

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