There is trouble for Nigeria as the African Union (AU) alerted some days back that over 6,000 Africans who fought for the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq could soon be returning to the continent.
Last week, Smail Chergui, the AU’s commissioner for peace and security, said African nations would need to work closely with each other and share intelligence to counter returning militants.
“There are reports of 6 000 African fighters among the 30 000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East,” Chergui told a meeting in Algiers, according to the Algeria Press Service news agency.
“The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and intense co-operation between African countries,” he said.
In the same vein, security experts have warned that Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb, adding that the returning fighters pose a major security threat to the country, as they are likely to join forces with Boko Haram, an affiliate of ISIS.
The Punch quoted the analysts as saying that if the Federal Government failed to quickly install security measures to counter the potential threat, insurgency could increase in the country.
On the back of fears arising on the migration of the fighters, a security expert, Mr. John Enweliku, called on the Federal Government to quickly deploy troops in the borders so as to ensure the safety of Nigerians.
He said, “Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb with this development. Boko Haram alone has caused lots of trouble and we have yet to fully overcome them. Should the returning fighters join the sect, there would be more trouble.
“It calls for great worry because of the problem we’re already facing with Boko Haram. The returning fighters would likely join Boko Haram. All the security agencies, as well as the AU and ECOWAS, have to start doing something about the development. Troops must be deployed in the borders because Nigeria’s borders are very porous.
“Most of the returning fighters could disguise as farmers or others; they might not even be carrying arms, so there should be intense security measures put in place.”
On his own part, but in corroboration, a United Kingdom-trained criminologist and Chairman of Puma Eye Security Services, Pedro Ayandokun, told the news outlet on Friday that there was a high likelihood that most of the 6,000 returning fighters were coming to Nigeria, where Boko Haram operates.
He said, “I would refer to the development as an invasion and it is a security threat mainly to Nigerians because as the fighters are returning, they would likely join their ‘brothers,’ that is, Boko Haram terrorists.
“They are coming to wreak havoc. Nigeria is definitely sitting on a time bomb; the fighters are our enemies and we have to be security conscious.
“The government needs to move fast in deploying troops in the borders, where the fighters are likely to come in through. The most appropriate thing to do is for the AU and the Economic Community of West African States to convene a regional security meeting to find a solution to the potential threat.”