Lagos – The 7 200-strong force is composed of military personnel drawn from Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger with the United States of America assuring both military and intelligence support.
Several Christian and Muslim leaders, who spoke to CAJ News this weekend, welcomed the move to deploy the troops following AU’s organisation of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to dismantle the Boko Haram insurgency.
In an interview, Chief Emeka Adenigba, who is also a Muslim church leader, said the AU's renewed support for Nigeria was a huge development.
"We would like thank the AU, especially the African Union Commission chairwoman, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Pan African approach.
"Such unity of purpose displayed by the new-look AU was missing for many years. I strongly believe with this latest military action, very soon peace would return to Nigeria," Adenigba said.
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Pastor Charles Okwonkwo of the Evangelical Ministry in Lagos echoed his sentiments.
He appealed to Nigerians to unite and complement the troops in the fight against the Boko Haram.
“They have caused much anxiety to the nation and neighbouring countries. We pray those that behind the Boko Haram be arrested and thrown to life imprisonment with the keys thrown to the sea for them to rot in jail," he said.
The Boko Haram, which is attempting to carve an Islamic state in Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, has to date massacred 13 000 people in Nigeria with more than a million others displaced from their communities since 2009.
The AU military initiative has repelled the Boko Haram in the north before liberating regions such as Gamboru-Ngala, Malamfatori, Abadam, Kirawa and Ashigashiya and Michika.
- CAJ News