President Muhammadu Buhari has attributed proliferation of arms and resultant conflict in the Sahel region to activities of mercenaries escaping from Libya.
He said the late 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.”
“As far as Libya remains unstable, illegal arms and ammunition will continue to flow in the Sahel region of the African continent,” Buhari added.
The President spoke yesterday at the State House, Abuja while receiving the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
He said: “They didn’t learn any other skill than to shoot and kill. So, they are a problem all over the Sahel countries today.
“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.”
The Nigerian leader described Chambas, who spent many years in Nigeria in different capacities right from ECOWAS to UN, as “more of a Nigerian than anything else.”
Responding, the visitor thanked Buhari “for personal support I received from you and from Nigeria as a country.”
On terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, Chambas said Nigeria was playing a yeoman’s role by giving support to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).