Border closure didn’t stop free flow of arms, Buhari admits
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, confessed that the recent closure of land borders has not stopped the illegal flow of arms and ammunition.
Attributing the problem to the situation in Libya, Buhari said once the country remains unstable, illegal arms and ammunition will continue to flow in the Sahel region of Africa.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja while receiving in farewell audience the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
The statement was titled “An unstable Libya remains a problem for the Sahel region, says President Buhari.”
It would be recalled that Nigeria shut its land borders in August 2019 to crack down on smuggling.
They were however reopened in December 2020 ahead of the January 1, 2021 implementation date of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The President was quoted as saying on Thursday that “We closed our land borders here for more than a year, but arms and ammunition continued to flow illegally.
“As far as Libya remains unstable, so will the problem remain.
“We have to cope with the problems of development, as we can’t play hop, step and jump. But we will eventually overcome those problems.”
Buhari said Muammar Gadaffi held a grip on power in Libya for 42 years by recruiting armed guards from different countries, who then escaped with their arms when the Libyan strongman was killed.
“They didn’t learn any other skill than to shoot and kill. So, they are a problem all over the Sahel countries today,” the President said.
He described Chambas, who spent many years in Nigeria in different capacities, from ECOWAS to UN, as “more of a Nigerian than anything else.”
He wished him well in his future endeavours.
The outgoing Special Representative thanked the President “for personal support I received from you, and from Nigeria as a country,” adding that the country would continue to play a leadership role on the continent.
On terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, Chambas said Nigeria was playing a yeoman’s role, particularly in giving support to the Multinational Joint Task Force.