PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has called on the United Nations to support Africa to curb the influx of illegal arms trade and illicit mining by foreign firms.
He made the call on Wednesday, September 20, while addressing the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
He said illegal arms deals had resulted in inhumane commercial activities, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, while noting that illegal mining had been a persistent concern, posing significant economic and environmental threats to several African countries, particularly Nigeria.
Speaking on illegal arms, the President said, “Our entire region is locked in a protracted battle against violent extremists. In the turmoil, a dark channel of inhumane commerce has formed. Along the route, everything is for sale. Men, women and children are seen as chattel.
“Yet, thousands risk the Sahara’s hot sand and the Mediterranean’s cold depths in search of a better life. At the same time, mercenaries and extremists with their lethal weapons and vile ideologies invade our region from the North,” he said.
He described the practice as harmful, which could adversely affect the region’s stability.
Tinubu noted that African nations were committed to developing their economies to limit the emigration of citizens to other regions under life-threatening circumstances for menial jobs.
He also said the continent was committed to ridding itself of terrorist groups, adding that the international community had a role in achieving this goal.
“We also shall devote ourselves to disbanding extremist groups on our turf. To fully contain this threat, the international community must strengthen its commitment to arrest the flow of arms and violent people into West Africa,” he said.
According to a report by SB Morgen Intelligence, ammunition from about 21 countries has been used in Nigeria’s conflict zones since the nation began to witness insurgency over a decade ago.
Nigeria’s porous borders contribute significantly to the smuggling of these arms as there are over 1400 illegal and poorly manned borders in the country.
Similarly, The ICIR, in different reports, had detailed how foreign illegal miners exploit Nigeria’s natural resources, fueling insecurity in the country.
The ICIR reports also exposed how traditional rulers engaged in arbitrary land grabs, conniving with illegal gold miners to destroy the ecosystem and natural vegetation in several communities in southwestern Nigeria.
While highlighting the adverse environmental impacts of illegal mining, Tinubu urged world leaders at the 78th UNGA to collaborate and implement stringent measures to curb the practice.
He said: “The fourth important aspect of global trust and solidarity is to secure the continent’s mineral-rich areas from pilfering and conflict. Many such areas have become catacombs of misery and exploitation. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has suffered this for decades despite the strong UN presence there. The world economy owes the DRC much but gives her very little.
“The mayhem visited on resource-rich areas does not respect national boundaries. Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, CAR, the list grows.”
According to him, billions of dollars meant to improve Nigeria go into fueling violence and insecurity, adding that the situation remained a grave risk to the country if left unchecked.
He warned that the UN member nations must respond by working with African nations to deter their firms and nationals from the pillage of Africa’s resources.
He further stated that Africa had abundant land resources and possessed a populace known for their creativity and industry, but “man has too often been unkind to his fellow man, and this sad tendency has brought sustained hardship to Africa’s doorstep.”