#TrackNigeria The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, has called for intensified intelligence gathering as well as joint and combined operations to combat security threats currently plaguing member countries of ECOWAS.
Olonisakin made the call after he assumed leadership of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff on Wednesday at its ongoing 39th ordinary meeting in Abuja.
According to a statement by Col. Onyema Nwachukwu on Wednesday, the CDS said collective efforts by member states and other stakeholders was imperative for the security and economic development, peace and stability of the region.
He said some of the threats in the region include insurgency, terrorism, piracy, human and drugs trafficking and oil theft as well as other vices at sea.
Those threats, he said, had been exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons occasioned by porous borders within the sub-region.
Olonisakin said the acquisition of those weapons had emboldened criminal elements in their nefarious activities.
“The growing trend of local terrorist organisations affiliated with and receiving support from well known international terrorist organizations has also become very worrisome.
“This trend portends grave danger to our collective security.
“It is a matter of concern that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace and security of our sub-region.
“These security threats have been exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons occasioned by the numerous porous borders within the sub-region.
“This threat calls for collective action on the path of each member state as well as collaboration with other stakeholders and partners,” he said.
He expressed the hope that through frequent interaction of ECOWAS chiefs of defence staff and political leaders, the collective efforts at ensuring peace and stability in the region would be fruitful.
In her remarks, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence, called for more training for the troops to enhance their operational capability.
Batgarawa congratulated Olonisakin on his new appointment and promised the support of the Federal Government to the conduct of the Command Post Exercise by the ECOWAS Standby Force scheduled to hold in Nigeria later in 2019.
The permanent secretary, who was the special guest at the meeting, enjoined the ECOWAS Standby Force to continue to support, cooperate and collaborate with the Nigerian military in the fight against terrorism and other vices in the nation and sub-region.
Also speaking, the immediate past Chairman of the Committee and represented by the Deputy CDS of Togo, Brig.-Gen. Adjitowou Colman, thanked Nigeria for the support it is was rendering to secure the sub-region.
Enumerating some of the achievements of the committee, he mentioned strides made in Liberia, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mali among other countries within the sub-region.
” We are laying the foundation for our Standby Force to be able to have a better reaction in the event of security challenges,” he said.
He asked for measures that would tame the terrorists hampering development in the region.
The Togolese military chief called for field visits, exercises, more solidarity and joint actions to monitor and evaluate the readiness of troops.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Brig.-Gen. Francis Benhazin, said the commission had taken some steps to contain crises that could have arisen from disagreements after local elections in some countries in the sub-region. (NAN)