By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor
The Chiefs of Defence Staff of the United Kingdom and France, General Nicholas Carter and General Francois Lecointre respectively have alerted the Nigerian military that the Islamic State terrorist group in the West African region (ISWAP) was a larger threat of violent extremism than Boko Haram.
The top Military Commanders of both European Powers have therefore pledged their readiness to join hands with Nigeria to tackle the threat of the spread of violent extremism in the sub region.
Speaking when both General Carter and General Lecointre paid an historic visit to Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, the UK CDS commended the professionalism of the Nigerian armed forces in the battle against terror in the North East noting, “We are hugely in admiration of your efforts in getting off terrorism.
General Carter said, “This joint visit is a historical moment to Nigeria. It is also symbolic because we (the UK and France) both feel strongly that we need to fight for West Africa and we have a huge appreciation of how Nigeria fits well into the security situation of the region.
“We are also impressed with the strong commitments you have shown in providing security to the country, and in areas where you are challenged by the Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province. “The Islamic State is a much larger threat of violent extremism. “We are hugely in admiration of your efforts in getting off terrorism.
“Collectively, we look for opportunities to see where we can help and where we can maximise our support to West Africa and Nigeria particularly.”
Earlier, the CDS, General Olonisakin said he was happy to receive the two top generals even as he vowed that the armed forces of Nigeria will not rest until criminal elements, vis -a-vis terrorists, killer bandits, armed robbers/kidnappers among others are eliminated and flushed out of the country.
Olonisakin said the joint visit of the UK and French CDS and their delegation which is a landmark event, provided an opportunity to interact on all spheres of security and military collaboration particularly as it relates to tackling challenges in both French and English speaking West Africa.
According to him, the United Kingdom and France, have over the years remained strong pillars of support to the Armed Forces of Nigeria, through training, equipment support, intelligence sharing and many more.
“These (supports) have in no small measures helped us in our effort to tackle the various security challenges confronting our nation especially in our counter terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts in the North Eastern parts of the country.”
The CDS added that the Armed Forces of Nigeria was committed to restoring peace to troubled parts of the country hence the Defence Headquarters is currently conducting various operations across the country.
“These operations have continued to yield positive results and we will not rest on our oars until we rid our country of all criminal elements” he said.