COVID-19 worsens Nigeria's insecurity, others, says UN

By Joseph Erunke – Abuja

United Nations, UN, has attributed Nigeria’s growing insecurity to the COVID-19, adding that the disease also impacted negatively on the socio-economic development of the West African subregion and the Sahel.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who said this yesterday, in Abuja, at the National Institute for Security Studies, NISS, noted that the security situation in the entire region escalated due largely to low national response-ability caused by the disease.

According to him, the development further radicalized the extremist groups.

The UN Representative, who delivered the Graduation Lecture for Participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC13) tagged, “COVID-19: Myths, Really and Challenges to Economic Development and Security”, said besides the insecurity, the deadly virus has also impacted negatively on the socio-economic development of the region.

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To this end, he called for a multi-government and multi-stakeholders’ approach to mitigating the far-reaching effects of the viral disease.

Participants of the EIMC 13 were drawn from military, security, para-military and law enforcement agencies in the country, the Gambia and Ghana, not below the deputy directorate cadre.

“It is not lost on lost on anyone’s mind that violent extremism perpetrated by non-state armed groups in parts of West Africa and the Sahel, is the current most pressing security dilemma in the region”, Chambas said.

He submitted further,that the attacks by Boko Haram and the ISWAP within the Lake Chad general area, as well as the Sahel in the month of March, had resulted in significant losses in the ranks of Defence and security forces of Nigeria, Chad and Niger republic.

He said this was “indicative of the fact that the pandemic is yet to have a deterrent effect on their (terrorists’) activities.

Chambas noted thus: “The overall security situation in the region grew in complexity due to exacerbation of conflicts by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected national response capacity to insecurity and further radicalized the narrative of extremist groups, who blamed governments for the impact of the health crisis on populations.

“On 9 March, at the onset of the virus in the region, Islamic State encouraged its fighters to increase attacks while governments are struggling to manage the pandemic.

“Additionally, militants’ have attempted to win over local populations by portraying the pandemic as punishment against non-believers going further to provide their version of psycho-social support to populations of cutting areas where they control in Lake Chad Basin and the tri-border areas of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

“The terrorist groups in West Africa and the Sahel failed or refused to adhere to the appeal of the Secretary-General for a global cessation of hostilities, or ceasefire due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his address, the Director-General of the State Services (DG-SS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi, said the intelligence and security sector, like others, were gravely impacted by the novel coronavirus disease.

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