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Jude Johnson and Godsgift Onyedinefu
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, has warned that there may not be end to orgies of bloodletting across the middle Belt of Nigeria until justice is served to prevent cyclical conflict.
Gauer gave this verdict on Saturday during a press briefing to mark the French National Day in Abuja.
He was emphatic that unless there is proper arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators including the principal actors, the heinous crime which has claimed thousands of lives, erased several communities and threatening food security since the incident assumed a worrisome dimension beginning of this year will not stop.
He however, identified demographic factors to be more behind the crisis rather than the allusion to ethnicity and religion in some quarters but explained that as time goes on it would eventually began to take the shape of ethno-religious conflict on the long run.
To this end, the envoy urged the authorities to do everything possible to put an end to the killings, which he noted is adversely affecting the image of Nigeria globally.
He said for Nigeria to overcome the challenge it must put in place a real policy to develop agriculture and to develop cattle growing in the country with other method as well as tackling the level of impunity surrounding the incidences.
He said, “If there is that kind of killings there must be a proper prosecution and people must be arrested, those responsible for that must be arrested and properly sentenced.
“If that doesn’t happen then of course it cannot end because then those who are victims search for revenge for themselves which of course is not the right way to do things”.
Gauer, added that if the killings is not brought under control a lot of foreign partners would be less willing to come to Nigeria and engage in partnership with the country, especially in those affected areas which according to him is in dire need of investment.
He noted that France is willing to help Nigeria overcome both her security and developmental challenges, which according to him formed part of the French President’s visit to Nigeria earlier this month.
“We are proposing some sort of training for the Nigerian armed forces. Mr. Macron came to Nigeria 10 days ago and met with President Buhari in Abuja, they discussed security issues and of course other issues such as bilateral and economic issues, coming elections and other challenges of Nigeria”, he said.
“We are focusing our investment on special sectors for example, renewable energy and agriculture and like I said before ‘Smart Cities’ where we are working currently with Lagos on transportation system”, he added.
The outgoing ambassador disclosed that France, has signed several developmental agreements with government and private sector in Nigeria.
He stressed that France through its developmental agency has in the last 10 years provided funding in form of soft loans to the tune of 2bn euros to Nigerians as well as another 70m euros to finance water management in Kano state.
Gauer listed other areas France is seeking cooperation with Nigeria to include; sports, arts, cinemas, museums amongs others, which according to him would enhance the development of relations at both people and cultural levels.