By KINGSLEY OMONOBI, Abuja
Slain Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi was a major sponsor of terrorism activities and religious fundamentalism in the country, resulting in his supply of arms and ammunition to sectarian groups during religious uprisings, terrorist attacks and even the post elections violence that rocked the nation soon after the 2011 presidential elections, Saturday Vanguard has learnt.
Security sources disclosed that they had been aware of the intention of Col. Gaddafi to instigate the destabilization of Nigeria with a view to bringing to fruition, his proclamation early this year, that Nigeria would disintegrate into several parts unless the country was divided into two, with North going their own way and the South forming their own country.
Saturday Vanguard was told that it was in his bid to make this happen, that Col Gaddafi massively funded the construction of Mosques and other Islamic Centers of worship in Kano and other cities of the North. He was also said to have embarked on several humanitarian donations and visits to Kano and these other Northern states, most times unannounced, after which he would journey back to his country.
“There were also several visits by several top and influential Northerners, especially those of the Islamic faith to Libya ostensibly on the invitation of the late Libyan leader when he was alive and held sway in Tripoli before the revolution against him started which security agencies were aware of and we closely monitored these persons”, the source said.
It is against this backdrop and that of several well documented destabilization plots, allegedly sponsored or supported by the late Libyan leader, Saturday Vanguard gathered, that Nigeria moved swiftly in recognizing the National Transition Council after Gaddafi had fled Tripoli and such nations like the USA, Britain, France, Italy and the European Union gave the NTC recognition with some establishing temporary missions in Benghazi.
Though South Africa questioned the rational for Nigeria’s rush in giving full diplomatic backing to the NTC, unknown to them, Nigeria had suffered untold destruction and crisis as a result of Col. Gaddafi’s patronage and the only way to free her from the former Libyan leaders’ strangle-hold on these groups was to cash in on the international coalition’s resolve to help bring democracy to Libya.
Asked to give an example of how and when the security agencies discovered Gaddafi’s plan against Nigeria, the source said, “As far back as 2003 and 2004, some armed bandits who had been terrorizing Adamawa, Yobe, Kano states, were caught with about 40 double barrels, lethal rifles, machine guns and ammunition.
After investigations, and coupled with confessions from the suspects, the weapons and ammunition were found to have a special Gaddafi insignia on them.”
So why did Nigeria keep quiet all these years till Gaddafi had problems with his people? The source said he was not in a position to explain, adding that such answer can only come from the federal government.
It would be recalled that while Gaddafi was in hiding, West African Chiefs of Defence Staff, at an emergency meeting in Abuja early this month, deliberated for hours about the consequences of the Libyan uprising, with Nigeria’s CDS, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin issuing a security alert to Defence and Security chiefs in the West African sub-region over the instability in Libya and its anticipated spill over to countries in the sub region warning that it portends dire consequences.
Petirin, who is the Chairman of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff, had also warned of an upsurge in acts of terrorism in the sub region, noting that ‘the recent upsurge in acts of terror being experienced in several countries including Nigeria, are issues that require urgent attention’.
‘Therefore, the spate of terrorist’s attacks within the region and its implications have necessitated sensitization on counter terrorism strategies’ which must be tackled holistically” he said adding, ‘similarly, piracy and sea robbery thrives in the maritime domains of some member states within the Gulf of Guinea while small arms proliferation, political instability and internal security challenges and its socioeconomic and political implications continue to stare us in the face’.
‘It is in the light of the above that this meeting is quite auspicious, he said adding that the body was making progress in the security sector reforms that is ongoing in Guinea Bissau as well as the issue of the ECO WAS Standby force’, he said.
Recalling that the widely held view that threats to national security and regional peace and security in West Africa were deeply rooted in political, social and economic factors, the CDS said, ‘It is on this premise that our deliberations should seek to vigorously address these issues, in order not to only avert the negative consequences of these threats but promote the prospects of socioeconomic and political developments as envisaged in the ECO WAS Charter’.
There had been suggestions that former President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote D Ivore, President Mamaduo Tandja of Mali and Captain Moussa Dadis Camara of Guinea who failed to heed their peoples agitation and tried to change the constitution to achieve sit-tight status had the backing and financial support of Col. Gaddafi before they were pushed out for citizens of these countries to elect democratic leaders and today, our region is gaining rightful recognition.