The National Security Council, on Thursday, declared the National Task Force on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition, Light Weapons, Chemical and Pipeline Vandalism illegal.
The council, therefore, ordered the body to disband itself or force the wrath of the federal government. It also passed a vote of confidence on security agencies for their efforts to quell the violence and attacks recorded nationwide.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after Thursday’s National Security Council meeting presided over by the President, Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The upper legislative chamber had in July passed into law a Bill establishing the National Commission for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, with NATFORCE being one of its components.The House of Representatives is expected to pass its version of the law upon resumption from recess later in September 2022.
However, security experts have rejected the Senate’s inclusion of NATFORCE in the new Act, urging the lawmakers to expunge NATFORCE from the Bill when harmonizing both versions.
The National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons currently domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser and headed by Maj-Gen. A. M Dikko (retd) is the only national coordination mechanism for the control and monitoring of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
According to the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, who also spoke at the briefing, the Nigerian constitution protects freedom of association. However, matters of national security should be regulated by the Office of the National Security Adviser, he argued.
The Interior Minister, who said the council received reports from all service chiefs and Inspector-General of Police, said it is “very satisfied” with the performance of all security agencies and that the country is moving to the phase of consolidated security.
He said the council also commended the police for its performance in Ekiti, Osun and Anambra states where governorship elections were conducted recently.
Speaking on NATFORCE, Aregbesola said “Equally of concern is the presence of some illegal outfits that impersonate the legitimate security agencies. Of particular concern is a body called National Task Force on Illegal Importation of Goods, Small Arms and what have you, but the short name for it is NATFORCE.
“The Council declares that body an illegal organization, it should just simply disband itself, because the Council has ordered all security agencies to enforce the disbandment of that body and other such bodies that operate illegally without any force of law,” He said.
On the council’s outlook on the performance of security agencies, he said, “The Council has just concluded today’s meeting. It received briefings from all security chiefs and the Council is very satisfied with the performances of all our security chiefs; the military, the police and other security agencies. We are happy with their performance and the gains recorded so far.
“We are moving to the phase of consolidation of all those gains, such that by December, as ordered by the Chairman of the Council, the President, which he has said to all Nigerians before now, that we’ll put, essentially, most of the challenges of banditry particularly, insurgency, kidnapping for ransom, criminalities of that nature, far behind us.
“We are equally pleased with the performance of the Nigeria Police on the elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun, which elections have demonstrated our commitment to democracy and expression of the will of the people at the polls.”
Fielding questions on the remaining passengers kidnapped in the March 28 attack on a Kaduna-bound train who are still in the terrorists’ den, the Minister of Police Affairs, Dingiyadi, said no effort will be spared to rescue them alive.
He said that the arrest of the key negotiator, Tukur Mamu, will not hinder negotiations as there are other bodies negotiating to ensure their safe release.
“We are not sparing efforts to release our brothers and sisters who are in captivity,” he said.