Cameroonian President Paul Biya told Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that Boko Haram’s insurgency was like a “dark cloud” hanging over their two nations, a Nigerian newspaper reported Friday. Biya addressed Buhari during a welcome dinner in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde amid fresh efforts to soothe tensions and to exterminate the radical Islamic group once and for all.
“Mr. President, a dark cloud is looming over our countries even as we welcome you. We are facing the same threat, which may rock the foundation of our two nations,” Biya said late Wednesday, according to Daily Trust. “This danger bears the name of Boko Haram. Its atrocities and crimes are jeopardizing peace around Lake Chad and especially in our two countries.”
The two leaders met in Yaounde for two days of talks, which wrapped up on Thursday, in an effort to overcome their differences on the anti-terror campaign. Buhari and Biya vowed to improve intelligence-sharing on Boko Haram and security cooperation along their oil-rich border. The presidents also voiced support for the new Multinational Joint Task Force comprised of soldiers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin. However, they failed to provide specifics on military cooperation or when the 8,700-strong coalition force would be deployed, Reuters reported.
This week was not the first time Nigeria and Cameroon have pledged to share intelligence. The two African countries made a similar promise at a Paris summit on Boko Haram in May 2014, according to Reuters. Since then, Nigeria has accused Cameroon of not doing enough to fight the Nigerian insurgents and prevent them from seeking refuge on Cameroonian soil. Cameroon saw Buhari’s failure to visit the country sooner as a snub and Biya, who has been in power since 1982, didn’t attend his presidential inauguration May 29. The tensions between the two countries date back decades and have strained regional anti-terror efforts.
In what appeared to be an indication of warming relations, Buhari and Biya agreed to meet again in Nigeria, but no date was set, Reuters reported. Buhari’s trip to Cameroon came eight weeks after he visited Chad and Niger, two other neighboring nations which have also suffered from attacks by Boko Haram.
Since Buhari took office, swearing to crush the Islamist militants, Boko Haram has unleashed a wave of violence that has claimed dozens of lives. The six-year insurgency has killed at least 15,000 people and displaced millions, mostly in northeast Nigeria.
"The number of dead and victims are rising, economic activities have been crippled in affected areas, the number of refugees and displaced persons are ever increasing,” Biya said Wednesday, according to Daily Trust. "We cannot allow this cancer to spread, we must pool our resources and forces and share our experiences.”