Nigeria has agreed with seven other African countries contributing troops to the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on setting up a rapid intervention force to fight terrorist groups in Mali and other cross-border criminal organisations.
The countries joining Nigeria include Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo. The countries are also expected to strengthen the current capacity of the MINUSMA so that it can attain the authorised contingents provided for in 2100 and 2164 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council early enough, to allow MINUSMA fulfill its mandate.
In a statement by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Amb. Aminu Wali on Friday, he noted that the decision was reached at the recent ministerial meeting of countries contributing to MINUSMA in Niamey, capital of Niger Republic.
Wali who led Nigeria’s delegation to the meeting, also disclosed that it was resolved to strengthen Malian Defence and Security Forces (MSDS) to enable them defend the territorial integrity of Mali, reports Thisday.
While Nigeria’s troops linking up with their counterparts in the continent for special missions may not be strange, what many will find strange is the fact that Nigerian troops will be fighting to preserve the territorial integrity of another country when its own territorial integrity is being threatened by Islamist sect Boko Haram, a terror group that has taken over several towns in the north east.
Wali however said the meeting also discussed how countries in the sahel-Saharan region can strengthen regional cooperation to fight terrorism and organised crimes.
Present at the meeting convened at the instance of the Niger Republic, are international organisations, including the African Union, European Union, Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) and Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). Observer countries that include Algeria, China, Mauritania, France and United States of America were also present.