President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday explained why Nigeria is using “minimum force” in fighting Boko Haram insurgents, saying his administration was doing its utmost best to protect the fundamental human rights of persons in the theatre of operations.
Addressing a special session of the EU parliament in Strasbourg, France, President Buhari said his government shared the European Union’s commitment to peace and security.
He said he also shared the UN’s respect for human rights, democracy and good governance, equality and tolerance, as ways of developing prosperous and strong societies.
“For our part, we have updated our rules of engagement in fighting terrorism and pay very close attention during operations to the treatment of captured terrorists, civilians caught up in the conflict and in general, safeguarding property.
“Our aim is to use minimum force necessary in our fight against terrorists,” Mr. Buhari assured members of the parliament and the European Union Commission.
Mr. Buhari also spoke of Nigeria’s concerns about the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), collectively endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States.
He said Nigeria was yet to sign the agreement because pertinent technical issues raised by the Federal Government have not been satisfactorily addressed.
“Giving due consideration to the mismatch of the two regions (Europe-ECOWAS) in terms of technology and manufacturing experience, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Associated Trade Unions raised concerns over the negative impact of the agreement on Nigeria’s industrialisation programme.
“Nigeria is working towards addressing her own side of the issues and I therefore urge our European Union partners to also address our own concerns to allow for an Economic Partnership Agreement that is mutually beneficial and can contribute to the prosperity of our people, in the context of our shared values and interest at promoting cordial bilateral trade relations,” Mr. Buhari said.
The president also sought greater support from the European Union for Nigeria’s efforts to curb the theft of its crude oil and corruption in its oil and gas sector.
“Nigeria is facing the challenges of oil-theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta as well as recovery of illicit funds.
“In this regard, Nigeria solicits the cooperation of the European Parliament to support the efforts aimed at stemming these vices.
“Our attempt to restore security, curb corruption and fight crime will result not only in improving social stability in Nigeria but will re-open the doors for full economic relations with Europe and the rest of the world.
“Those who wish to invest in our country have immense opportunities and we intend to guarantee the security of people and investments brought to Nigeria,” Mr. Buhari said.
He assured the parliament that Nigeria would collaborate with the European Union to address illegal migration to Europe.
“Our government is making concerted efforts to address the push-factor that propel migration, especially from Nigeria, as both destination and transit country.
“In this year’s budget, the government has provided for over 500,000 graduate employment in the teaching profession alone.
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