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Infiltration of illegal weapons into Nigeria

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The recent news report that some weapons looted in Libya have infiltrated Nigeria is distressing. It portends great danger and should worry those in authority. It has serious security implication taking into consideration the current siege on the nation by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

Also, the incident has further underscored the porous nature of our borders. That such sophisticated weapons, which include surface-to-air launchers and other dangerous arms, found their way into Nigerian territory shows that those manning our border posts have either failed in their duty or compromised their position.

The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, had while receiving a delegation of the National Defence University of Pakistan confirmed the infiltration of arms but expressed confidence that Nigeria is at peace with all countries of the world and, therefore, free from any form of external security threats, especially from its immediate neighbours. She, however, admitted that the country faces serious internal threat but maintained that the threats have been reduced to the barest minimum. Besides Boko Haram’s challenge, Obada surmised that other internal issues such as arms smuggling, piracy and oil theft, which are considered as “non-military issues,” equally constitute security threat.

At a time like this, the infiltration of these lethal weapons should be of great concern to all Nigerians, especially those in positions of authority and the security agents. It is, indeed, worrisome that these weapons entered into our shores. Since these weapons were unauthorized, there is the likelihood that they might have entered into wrong hands. Therefore, the statement credited to the Minister that we are at peace with our neighbours misses the point. It is not the issue here. She should rather worry about the serious security challenge we have in the country. Her rationalization of the entire situation, at best, appears simplistic and begs the issue at hand.

The fact that these deadly weapons penetrated our country shows that our security agencies are not diligent enough. All those in charge of our border posts should be held accountable. The usual excuse that our borders are too many will not impress anybody in this mater. Nigeria is not the only country with large and extensive borders. If other countries can guard theirs, we can equally do the same.
Now that these illegal arms have entered the country and government has admitted it, what is the government doing now to recover them? We need not remind the concerned authorities that they should work towards recovering the arms. They should also be interested in knowing who brought them and who received them. These are some of the issues that government should be concerned with now. Having such weapons in wrong hands at a period of serious security challenge does not augur well for the country.

For our borders to be properly manned, government should strengthen the number of security agents around them to ensure that there is adequate security. There is the need to recruit more Customs and Immigration personnel to augment whatever shortfall these services might be having at present. Also, those manning our land, sea and air borders should be well trained and armed well enough to curtail the infiltration of small and big arms into the country. Governments within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional blocs in Africa should come up with strategies to stop the nefarious arms movement within their region and amongst the regions as well. If this is done, it will, to a great extent, limit the illicit traffic in these dangerous weapons that promote violence in Africa.

Apart from these measures, the time is now ripe to introduce hi-tech security equipment to properly man our borders. Most things in the world now are technologically-driven, including security. Government should invest in highly sophisticated security gadgets and install them at strategic border posts throughout the country.
Above all, let all our security agents work in concert to rid our shores of these unwanted weapons.

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Boko Haram, illegal weapons in Nigeria

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