The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) have agreed to hold a joint summit on April 7 and 8, this year to plan a common strategy for a final onslaught against the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The meeting will be held in a yet-to-be-named Central African country.
This was the outcome of a high-level meeting between the Chairmen of ECOWAS and ECCAS, Presidents John Dramani Mahama and Idriss Déby of Chad respectively at the Peduase Lodge in Aburi yesterday, during which it was agreed that the two blocs hold the summit to plan a final offensive against the terrorist group.
President Deby was on a day’s visit to Accra as a follow-up to last month’s meeting between President Mahama and two leaders from the Central African bloc, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and President Dennis Sassou-N’Guesso of Congo, to discuss the Boko Haram issue.
At the extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX) on the fight against Boko Haram held in Yaounde, Cameroun, on February 16, 2015, ECCAS had unanimously agreed to collaborate fully with ECOWAS on ways to end the bloody insurgency.
Already, ECCAS had been engaging with Nigeria and ECOWAS in coordinating actions for the fight against the Islamist group.
In recent times, the terrorists reportedly lost large areas under their control and suffered huge casualties as Nigerian, Chadian and Nigerien forces launched offensives.
But Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, still remains a threat, as it undertook occasional attacks in villages in north-eastern Nigeria and cross-border raids on the neighbouring countries of Cameroun, Chad and Niger a few weeks ago.
The April 8 summit will, therefore, complete the unfinished business to ensure security in the affected countries.
Addressing the press after the closed-door meeting, President Mahama expressed appreciation to Chad for the tremendous role it was playing in the fight to end Boko Haram attacks.
The Chadian Army, seen as one of the best in Central Africa, has waged a number of successful battles against the Islamist group.
Mr Mahama expressed the hope that the collaboration between the two blocs would yield results.
He said the two leaders also discussed the setting up of a permanent joint commission for cooperation and the Foreign ministers of the two countries had been tasked to begin the process for its establishment.
During the discussions, President Mahama also offered a parcel of land in Accra for the Chadian government to construct a hostel for students from that country and President Deby pledged to begin the construction very soon.
Currently, there are more than 3,000 Chadian students studying in various institutions in Accra.
President Deby expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the meeting because all the issues he had discussed with his host had been positive.
The ECCAS Chairman, who earlier this month reportedly stated that he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group, and consequently called on him to surrender or risk being killed, pointed out at the press briefing in Accra that it had become clear that no single country could defeat Boko Haram, a situation that called for the pooling of resources in that regard.
He stated that beyond the summit, there was the need for countries in the two blocs to look at wider economic spheres for the benefit of their people.
Source: Graphic Online