Unlike Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire is tackling terror before it strikes
West African economic powerhouse Ivory Coast is yet to record any terror attack from Islamic extremists, but that is not stopping the country from taking terrorism seriously. The government told the Chinese News Agency, Xinhua, on Monday that it was reinforcing security measures in its northern border with insurgency-plagued Mali. The authorities say they are also working with communities to prevent infiltration by extremists who may want to set up recruitment centres.
Xinhua reported that chiefs in the northern regions of Korhogo, Odienne and Kouto are leading their communities to collaborate with defence authorities by reporting any suspicious individuals. “They have equally announced measures aimed at guaranteeing security, especially combing through forests to dislodge any suspicious individuals and inspect passengers in vehicles,” the agency said. “We have witnessed a proliferation of new mosques constructed by people with questionable reputation. We want to know who is funding the construction of these mosques and as a result the construction of new mosques has been suspended until further notice,” it quoted Korhogo chief Daouda Ouattara as saying. “Jihadist threats should be taken serious and I want to assure you that no one is safe. Whether muslims, christians or animists, no one is safe from the terrorist actions of jihadists,” Odienne’s Michel Amani Yao added. Clement Kouame Bi Kalou, the chief of Kouto department, said he has set up a departmental security council.
Malian terror group Ansar Dine has threatened Cote d’Ivoire for assisting Malian forces fight against its insurgency. The group has attacked Fakola, a southern Malian town just 15 kilometres from the border with Cote d’Ivoire. But the country is not waiting till the group comes good with its threat; it joined the Malian forces in combing the town, an operation in which they killed three jihadists according to Xinhua. Government Spokesman Bruno Kone says the country is working closely with the Malian authorities in the efforts to secure the border zones.
These moves are the crucial first steps in combating Islamic terror, yet they were given little attention by Nigeria, one of the countries worst hit by terror in the region. The consequence of the lack of these measures is the sustained wave of attacks by the Boko Haram group. In 2014, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote of foreign sponsored madrassas in northern Nigeria that were indoctrinating students and preaching support for terrorism. “A perverted and distorted view of a peaceful religion was being disseminated to a new generation of young people. So it is no surprise to me that extremism is on the rise in parts of Africa”, Brown said in an article on Project Syndicate. The little attention to to madrasas, mosques and islamist groups led to the growth of extremist sects like the Boko Haram and the Maitatsine that sprung up decades ago.
Nigeria began soliciting community cooperation and regional security partnerships only after the insurgency had claimed thousands of lives and dislodged dozens of communities. However, even though the insurgency has already eaten deep into the social fabric of the country, the measures are not too late to succeed. They need to be further strengthened across the lake chad basin especially with neighbours Chad, Cameroon and Niger now facing increasing levels of Boko Haram threat.
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