The collaboration between the EU and Nigeria to rout terrorism came barely a week after a global alliance, championed by the United States, committed itself to assist Nigeria and other West African countries to combat insurgency, according to reports by Nigeria's ThisDay newspaper on Friday.
The report added that a communiqué issued on Thursday after the seventh Nigeria-EU ministerial dialogue held virtually on Wednesday, the EU also expressed its willingness to step up assistance to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to defeat terrorism in the Lake Chad basin and West Africa.
The dialogue was co-chaired by Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Mr. Josep Borrell.
According to the 10-page communiqué, the two parties condemned the horrific abuses committed by non-state armed groups and acknowledged the efforts to reduce the threat.
The communiqué read in part: “Both sides acknowledge that in order to respond to the complex challenges in the Lake Chad Basin region, a truly integrated approach is needed, linking political, security, environmental and development efforts and ensuring provision of humanitarian assistance in a principled manner.
“Both sides expressed their support for the implementation of the AU’s Lake Chad Regional Stabilisation Strategy in close coordination with all key actors, including the AU and the United Nations.
“The EU expressed willingness to continue working closely together through the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) as part of an integrated response to the crisis, and in line with relevant Security Council resolutions. The EU called for better cooperation between MNJTF member states and increased operational activity.”
The European body acknowledged the significance of Nigerian leadership within the MNJTF and urged the federal government to take initiative to enhance the MNJTF’s efficiency.
The EU and Nigeria recognised the need for higher military pressure on armed terrorist groups, in compliance with humanitarian law, for the return of peace in the Lake Chad region.
It added: “Both sides intend to work together to prevent further violence in the North-west and the Middle-Belt, particularly through the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
“Both sides recognised that maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea require concerted efforts of all stakeholders, and noted that Nigeria demonstrated strong resolve to tackling the threats in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.”
The EU and Nigeria expressed resolve to intensify collaboration and coordination, even with neighbouring countries, and to continue the implementation of the Yaoundé Architecture to fight transnational organised crime in the maritime domain.
Following the recent #EndSARS protests, EU and Nigeria reiterated the importance of respecting human rights, including the right to peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression within the context of law and constitution.
The EU expressed condolences to the casualties and stressed the need to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice.
Both sides acknowledged the importance of delivering on genuine reforms, including of the police, through a process characterised by engagement of all stakeholders, local ownership, transparency and accountability.
Both EU and Nigeria acknowledged the concrete efforts and response of the federal government in addressing the #EndSARS movement demands, including the setting up of independent bodies to investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings, with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units.
This, they said, also included civilian brutality to policemen and damages done to private and public properties and investments.
They expressed commitment to continue supporting efforts to address Nigeria’s peace and security challenges, and to respond to the humanitarian needs, in particular in the North-east, North-west, Middle Belt, Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea.
On the economy, they reaffirmed their support for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation in order to preserve and strengthen the multilateral rule-based order.
They also welcomed Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, being the candidate recommended for the appointment as next director-general of the WTO, while the body also hopes the appointment would follow in due course.
The EU welcomed the signature by Nigeria of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
They also noted the importance of continental and regional economic integration and the EU reiterated its support for this transformative process for the African continent.