Bor­der arms seizure

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

n in­di­ca­tion of the util­ity of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to curb cross-bor­der crime was demon­strated re­cently when large caches ap­par­ently des­tined for Nigeria were seized by Cameroo­nian gen­darmes along that coun­try’s bor­der with Nigeria. It rep­re­sent a small vic­tory in the ef­fort to stem the flow of small arms to Nigeria, which could add to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity chal­lenges, par­tic­u­larly in the North East re­gion. Cameroo­nian au­thor­i­ties should be praised for the re­cent seizure of weapons, which Nige­rian of­fi­cials be­lieve was meant to re­sup­ply in­sur­gents in the North East. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for the Nige­rian Army, the caches in­cluded 288 ri­fles and 35 rock­ets; rocket pro­pelled grenades and im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices (IEDs). Two sus­pects car­ry­ing over 50 Cameroo­nian pass­ports were ar­rested. The seizure no doubt is a boost to the col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts by the two coun­tries to­wards curb­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of in­sur­gency and other crimes that the trade in small arms fu­els. Cameroon had pre­vi­ously been ac­cused of not do­ing enough to as­sist Nigeria to curb the in­sur­gents sus­pected to be op­er­at­ing out of Cameroon. Nige­rian au­thor­i­ties have of­ten com­plained that in­sur­gents linked to Boko Haram rou­tinely flee into Cameroon af­ter per­pe­trat­ing mayhem in Nigeria. While the Cameroo­nian au­thor­i­ties pledged to back Nigeria’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions, lit­tle had been done to show such com­mit­ment. There are many in Nigeria who urged the govern­ment to in­voke Nigeria’s na­tional in­ter­est and chase the in­sur­gents in hot pur­suit into an­other coun­try, re­gard­less of bor­der pro­to­cols. In fact, that event has oc­curred be­fore, when in 1983 the mil­i­tary govern­ment of Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari or­dered troops into Chad to re­pel a brief Cha­dian in­va­sion of Nige­rian ter­ri­tory through Borno State. Even in Western democ­ra­cies, par­tic­u­larly the United States, soldiers have been de­ployed to en­ter other coun­tries with­out prior ar­range­ment in en­force­ment of the na­tional in­ter­est. How­ever, such mil­i­tarist re­sponse on the part of Nigeria in the cur­rent cir­cum­stances could be mis­con­strued; and could po­ten­tially open up wider and un­in­tended ram­i­fi­ca­tions and con­se­quences. That is why reach­ing an un­der­stand­ing with Nigeria’s neigh­bours was the proper way to go. The suc­cess­ful as­sis­tance of Cameroo­nian au­thor­i­ties in seiz­ing arms caches at­tests to the wis­dom of that that diplo­matic ini­tia­tive. Apart from the arms re­cov­ered, dis­clo­sures from cap­tured ter­ror­ism sus­pects have ap­par­ently led to more arms be­ing seized in the on­go­ing of­fen­sive in dif­fer­ent ar­eas. A mil­i­tary spokesman noted that since the Cameroo­nian au­thor­i­ties pledged to back Nige­rian se­cu­rity forces in the fight to curb in­sur­gent ac­tiv­i­ties, the re­sults have been pos­i­tive. It is vi­tally im­por­tant that the im­pe­tus be kept up by bet­ter use of in­ter­nal se­cu­rity mech­a­nisms. The age­long tra­di­tion of com­mu­nal vig­i­lance should be en­cour­aged and re­vived. District and vil­lage heads and other com­mu­nity lead­ers should be able to iden­tify and point out strangers in their ar­eas. The Bor­der Com­mu­ni­ties De­vel­op­ment Agency also has a role to play in im­prov­ing se­cu­rity in these ar­eas. Over the years, bor­der se­cu­rity and man­age­ment has been left chiefly to the cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices to deal with, and these alone are in­ca­pable of con­trol­ling wide ex­panses of land that de­mar­cate Nigeria’s borders with other coun­tries. The wide­spread smug­gling of goods into the coun­try is in­dica­tive of the por­ous na­ture of these borders and the chal­leng­ing in con­trol­ling move­ment through them. Un­til the men­ace of the in­sur­gency, not much at­ten­tion had been paid to tight­en­ing bor­der se­cu­rity. Lo­cal in­tel­li­gence is re­quired to ef­fec­tively com­bat the men­ace of cross-bor­der ter­ror­ism. Not only should such com­mu­ni­ties be will­ing and pre­pared to as­sist the au­thor­i­ties in their in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing, it is in their long-term com­mu­nal in­ter­ests to re­port on those whose pres­ence in their midst pre­sents a se­cu­rity threat. Such bor­der com­mu­nity vig­i­lance would strengthen in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in ad­dress­ing the threat of ter­ror­ism and other crimes.

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