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Withdrawal of Nigerien troops from MNJTF fuels influx of weapons, terrorists in Nigeria – NAF Chief

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The withdrawal of the Republic of Niger troops from the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) has heightened security concerns in Nigeria, according to Hasan Abubakar, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).

Speaking at a recent meeting with senior NAF officials in Abuja, Abubakar warned that this move could exacerbate security challenges in the Sahel Region, leading to an increased influx of weapons and terrorists into Nigeria.

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He also highlighted the growing impact of economic challenges on the nation’s security landscape, pointing out that factors such as high youth unemployment, increasing inflation, and multi-dimensional poverty are intensifying the security threats facing the country.

“The upsurge in coup d’etat in the West African sub-region as well as the withdrawal of some nations from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have negative impacts on the collective regional security architecture.

“Similarly of concern, were the withdrawals of United Nations (UN) troops from MINUSMA, 2000 Chadian troops from Mali as well as Niger Republic troops from the Multi-National Joint Task Force which tend to aggravate the security challenges in the Sahel Region, causing the influx of more weapons and terrorists into Nigeria’, he noted

These security situations, he went on, have necessitated the need for the NAF and other security agencies to be proactive and intensify efforts at meeting the Federal Government and Nigerian citizens’ expectations for an expeditious actualization of a peaceful, safe and secure nation for prosperity to thrive.

He further noted that despite these threats, the NAF has, in the last 12 months, re-strategized and adopted new air power measures to enhance the gains against identified threats.

On his command philosophy backed by 5 key enablers, he highlighted that these strategic measures have led to modest yet significant progress in various operational areas, including the fight against insurgency, terrorism, banditry, and oil theft.

Despite these achievements, the CAS acknowledged the ongoing challenges posed by Nigeria’s harsh economic realities, including high youth unemployment, increasing inflation, and multi-dimensional poverty.

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These factors, he observed, have exacerbated the security situation, making it imperative for the NAF to continuously adapt and improve.

Abubakar also commended the efforts of NAF personnel, expressing his gratitude for their support since he assumed office stating that, “the NAF, so far, has achieved modest yet significant progress in fighting insurgency, terrorism, banditry, oil theft, and other criminal activities in the country.

The meeting according to him aimed at revisiting NAF’s set objectives in line with the CAS command philosophy and key enablers, discussing performance and achievements, and identifying challenges to be addressed.