By VICTORIA OJEME & FAITH GORA
ABUJA — Governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom are in talks over a new phase in the fight against Boko Haram, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Andrew Pocock has said.
This came as the Federal Government condemned the use of chemical weapons against Syrians, noting that such weapons were prohibited by subsisting international laws and conventions.
Pocock in a chat with Vanguard in Abuja, said much of what his government was discussing with Nigerian authorities are classified.
He, however, stated that part of the new area of co-operation between UK and the Nigerian government was how to make the Nigerian military more citizens friendly in the fight against terrorists in the North.
Pocock said: “We regard the Nigerian victory against terrorism as very important for international and continental stability. So we are working very hard to contribute to that. Now there are certain things that we are discussing with the Nigerian government about how that campaign might be conducted.
“How the Nigerian Armed Forces can best be seen as protectors of their citizens, but that is the debate about methodology.”
He said his government had worked for some years with its Nigerian counterpart in combating terrorism, adding that it was not something one could speak of freely.
According to him, the UK government sees terrorism as an international problem.
He added: “We regard the stability of Nigeria as very important for the whole West African sub-region of the continent .
“The objective of helping Nigeria secure stability internally and regionally and banish terrorism and extremism from the country is something we are very committed to.”
He also said his government was working closely with the Nigerian government to combat illicit drug trafficking, as well as other forms of trafficking.
He said: “We have a number of programmes on trying to stop smuggling and illicit migration and drugs and all sorts of programmes.
“As I said some of them are things that we don’t really want to discuss in public because they are sensitive but there are programmes going on and it is a mutual benefit to the bilateral relationship.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has condemned the use of chemical weapons against the people of Syria, noting that such weapons were prohibited by subsisting international laws and conventions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement signed by its spokeperson, Mr Amedu Ode, stated: “The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has followed with keen interest the ongoing crisis in Syria and in particular, the recent reported use of chemical weapons which has led to the death of many civilians, including innocent women and children.
“It is yet to be established which group may have used the prohibited weapons. It nonetheless, welcomes the action by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in despatching the UN Weapons Inspectors to verify the use of such weapons.
“Nigeria reiterates its call on all parties in the Syrian crisis to exercise maximum restraint and seek negotiated political solution to the protracted crisis, including through the instrumentality of the UN.
“Nigeria further calls for unfettered humanitarian access for relief supplies to victims of the conflict.”