- As Buhari restates commitment on December deadline
U.S. President, Barack Obama on, Wednesday informed Congress he is sending about 300 U.S. military personnel to Cameroon as part of a stepped-up effort by Washington to counter the violent group, Boko Haram.
Nigerian Pilot learnt through Reuters and Voice of America that an advance force of U.S. military personnel has arrived in Cameroon, an administration official said on condition of anonymity and will be conducting airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations , adding that they would be armed for their own protection.
This is just as President Buhari restated yesterday that the December deadline the government gave for rooting out Boko Haram is sacrosanct.
The militants have been active in northern Cameroon, across the border from their home base of north-eastern Nigeria.
Obama said 90 U.S. military personnel began deploying to Cameroon yesterday with the consent of the country’s government and the soldiers will be followed by additional personnel to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the region. The president said the U.S. force in Cameroon could eventually reach up to 300.
“These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protections and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed.”
Boko Haram has killed hundreds of civilians in Cameroon in addition to at least 10,000 in Nigeria over the past few years.
Cameroon is one of the countries taking part in a joint regional task force to fight the militant group, which seeks to create a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reiterated his assurances that by the end of this year, Boko Haram’s ability to attack, seize, ravage and hold any Nigerian territory will have been completely obliterated.
Speaking at an audience with the Commander of United States Africa Command, Gen David Rodriguez, President Buhari said that with greater support from his administration in terms of improved training, equipment, logistics and welfare, the Nigerian Armed Forces were now well positioned to meet the December deadline, which they have been given to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
The President seized the opportunity of General Rodriquez’s visit to restate his appreciation of the United States’ support for Nigeria’s efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.
“We must thank the United States of America for sending training teams and equipment to us. The positive results of our collaboration are evident.
“Structured attacks by the insurgents have reduced and by the end of the year, we should see the final routing of Boko Haram as an organized fighting force, “ the President said.
President Buhari appealed, however, for greater cooperation from the United States in securing the Gulf of Guinea through which stolen Nigerian crude oil is shipped abroad.
He decried the severe revenue losses which Nigeria suffers from crude oil theft, saying that his administration was determined to end this criminal practice and would welcome more support from the international community in this regard.
General Rodriguez told President Buhari that he was in the country to strengthen Nigeria/United States military relations, and also explore further options for assisting the Multinational Joint Task Force established by Nigeria and her neighbours, to fight Boko Haram.