THE Federal Government, on Tuesday, raised the alarm on the influx of arms and ammunition from Libya into Nigeria.
The Minister of Defence, Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed, who disclosed this on Tuesday, while on a maiden visit to the Defence, Army, Navy and Airforce headquarters, said that security reports revealed that some of the dissidents of the slain former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, were moving with heavy equipment and arms into the northern part of the country.
“We are very much aware of the movement of arms and explosives that were stolen from Libya. And I discussed with the Minister of Defence from Niger recently and he confirmed to me that arms were coming in. Recently, about 10 trucks entered from Libya and they had to fight them. They killed six people and seized all the 10 trucks and all of them were loaded with weapons.”
He said that anxiety was being expressed on the issue of security of the country’s borders, as fears had heightened about arms coming from Niger and lack of military representation in that country.
Subsequently, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, has directed the deputy concierge to move to Niger, while the government is to set a process in motion to ensure that the government approves the establishment of Defence attaché for Niger.
The minister disclosed that the fears were genuine but that they were up and doing. “We are doing something about it; we are working to set up a memorandum of understanding with Niger. And the EU has just approached that they would also like to work with us. They have fears also of disruption in our sub-region, if these weapons are allowed to proliferate without challenge. And Mali, Central African Republic, Mauritania Niger are all coming together to set a joint operation to fight movement of these weapons.”
He said that the government was doing a lot in this area and that with the support of the armed forces which are the field operators, and with their dedication, “we are going to face the situation and we will not allow it to deteriorate the security situation in our sub-region.”
Dr Bello charged the armed forces and other security agencies to really look inwards; “to look at ourselves, our attitudes, our methods of operation so that we devise means and ways of combating these new challenges, as he also promised to involve the military in internal security operations by bringing them into greater contact with the civil population.
He appealed to senior military officers to consider the civil populace as their friends, brothers and sisters, saying that to a great extent, they relied on them to get some of the information that they used to plan their operations.
According to him, when coming in contact, senior officers should talk to their men to be extraordinarily civil, because military training was geared towards threatening the enemy.
“When you are fighting a war, every citizen of your enemy country is considered an enemy, but internal security operation is different and we have to re-orient our people to think and behave accordingly,” he said.
Also, he added that it was the aim of the government to transform the Armed Forces by ensuring that they are always properly equipped and trained.
He said training institutions in the country were of high quality, as evidenced by constant request they received from other countries, even from outside Africa.
The minister said they had set in motion a process for amending the conditions of service for the Armed Forces to increase the age of retirement for various positions.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop for the clamour for state police by some states of the federation, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police for South-South, Mr Mustafa Yesufu, has said such a development is unnecessary, as it would promote chaos and anarchy in the society.
The DIG, who stated this in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Tuesday, while on a working visit to the state police command, said the present structure of the police force was suitable for the country.
According to him, “Nigeria as a nation has not developed into having state police, those who are calling for the establishment of state police are simply inviting chaos and anarchy.”
Explaining further, Yesufu said state governors were the chief security officers of their individual states, even as they had given enough support to their state police commands with the provision of security apparatus like security vans, weapons and financial assistance.
He said allowing state police would mean state government having control over security agencies in their domains, which, he said, would result in mismanagement. “
On the activities of Boko Haram sect, Yesufu said such a crime was relatively new in the system, adding that the steps to stem their activities required a collective effort and should not be left to the security agencies alone.
He, however, called on the members of the public to be vigilant, saying that “note those that buy ammunition, explosives from you, report strange and funny characters around you. The situation requires team work and not to be left in the hands of the police alone.”
In his welcome address, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, said the command had concluded arrangements to establish a quick response squad in the state, to ensure that proactive measures were taken to fight crime with all vigour available to the command, to make the state safe for prospective investors and the general citizenry.Written by Chris Agbambu, Abuja Wednesday, 30 November 2011