Boko Haram:Regional force formed to tackle militants

boko harajm 4
The purported leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekahu

 

Nigeria and its neighbours  have agreed  to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram.

Analysts say this is yet another clear sign of President Muhammadu Buhari’s intent to crush the Islamist militant group during his tenure.

The leaders reached the deal at a summit hosted by president Muhammadu Buhari, who made tackling the militants a key campaign pledge.

Most of the troops will be from Nigeria with Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin also contributing.

Cameroon will take the number two role of “deputy first commander” for an initial 12 months while a Chadian will be appointed chief of staff, again for the first year.

The decision that the force should be led by a Nigerian commander came after Mr Buhari rejected calls for leadership to rotate between the countries.

National contingents of troops for the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin should be deployed by July 30.

Boko Haram has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people in their six-year fight to establish an Islamic state in north-eastern Nigeria.

Squashing the insurgency was one of Mr Buhari’s main campaign promises, in contrast to his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, who was accused of inaction in tackling the Islamist extremist group.

Boko Haram has also kidnapped hundreds  of girls and women and even using children as suicide bombers.

Nigeria has promised $100 million for the “smooth take-off” of the MNJTF, Mr Buhari said on Thursday, but added that longer-term funding was still a “major issue”.

The partners called for financial backing from the African Union for “operations, logistics and general mission support” and asked the UN Security Council for its backing for the force.