By Yerima Kini Nsom
The Chadian Communication Minister, Hassan Sylla Ben Bakary, has claimed that 40 percent of arms and other war material used by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, are French-made.
He stated this recently in Yaounde during a press conference he co-chaired with his Cameroonian counterpart, Issa Tchiroma Bakary. The press conference was one of the major segments of the Chadian Minister’s friendly visit to Cameroon last week. The Minister said information gathered from their soldiers in the field reveal that 40 percent of war weapons seized from Boko Haram are French-made.
The Minister’s tone and tenor bespoke someone who was accusing France of arming Boko Haram that has been causing havoc in Chad, Cameroon and Niger. But, after some cautioning words from Issa Tchiroma, the Chadian Minister said he was stating clear facts without stigmatising or accusing France of supporting Boko Haram.
In order to buttress his point, the Minister ordered for the screening of a short documentary on how the Chadian army defeated Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Gambaru and seized many war weapons from them. In the video, one of the Chadian soldiers was showing guns, stating clearly that 40 percent of them are French-made.
Observers hold that such revelations could be fanning the embers of growing anti-French sentiments in Cameroon. Of late, the social media have been awash with allegations that France was sponsoring Boko Haram to get rid of the Yaounde regime. During the anti- Boko Haram march of February 28, in Yaounde, reportedly remote-controlled by some Government officials, a certain group of youth ignited a free-for-all cursing of France. Anti-French slogans went riot when the French Ambassador to Cameroon, H.E Christine Robichion joined the demonstration at the May 20 Boulevard.
France has in the past, denied every accusation levelled at her by public opinion in Cameroon. During his visit to Yaounde last February, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Laurent Fabius, said his country was the number one enemy of Boko Haram. He dismissed claims that France was sponsoring Boko Haram because the arms Cameroonian and Chadian soldiers seized from the terrorist group are French-made.
Going by the French Minister, such an accusation was simply ridiculous because Boko Haram has been seizing the arms from the Nigerian army. Laurent Fabius who granted a press conference at the residence of the French Ambassador in Yaounde said France was fully supporting the fight against Boko Haram. Given such a stance, he went on; it was unacceptable for anybody to be insinuating that his country was behind the terrorist group.
He said his country’s contribution to the anti-Boko Haram onslaught will be the provision of military intelligence and the training of soldiers. In an interview on CANAL 2 television recently, there was an allegation that France was bent on plotting the collapse of the Government of President, Paul Biya. The diplomat said France was determined to help Chad, Cameroon and Niger to flush out Boko Haram from the region.