BY OKEY NDIRIBE & CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA—Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau, has identified transnational criminals and global terrorist networks, which have infiltrated West African, as a serious threat to the nation’s security.
Delivering the keynote address at the National Stakeholders Summit on Security and Public Awareness, Dambazzau said the region had become a major reference point for global criminal activities, describing Nigeria as a major transit for drugs and arms trafficking.
Dambazzau said trafficking in small arms and light weapons was the major cause of global proliferation of arms, adding that when the arms found their way into the country, they were used for various acts of violence, such as armed robbery and ethno-religious conflicts.
He added: “In addition to the possibility of importation of terrorism through known global terror networks, transnational organised crimes, involving arms, drugs, human trafficking, money laundering, cyber-crimes , advance fee fraud and illegal bunkering are, indeed, posing serious security threats to Nigeria.”
He further stated that corruption had become a major threat to the nation’s security and stability.
Said he: “Much relevant to our gathering here, is the fact that corruption endangers the stability and security of our society when it undermines the institutions and values of democracy.
“Overall, corruption is both a cause and consequence of poverty and under-development and it increases the likelihood of other crimes.”
Declaring the summit open, President Goodluck Jonathan noted that the nation had been confronted with some major security challenges in recent times.
Enumerating such challenges as intra and inter party conflicts, socio-economic agitations, ethno-religious crisis, civil and organised rebellion, and outright criminality, the President reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to secure the life and property of the citizenry.
He said: “Let me reiterate that this administration remains irrevocably committed to its constitutional role of securing the lives and property of all Nigerians.
“Government is ready to do whatever needs to be done, within the scope of the rule of law, to bring about lasting peace, while also laying more emphasis on an intelligence based approach to meeting our national security challenges.
“Similarly, this administration is committed to the fulfilment of its promises of growing the economy through job creation for our teeming youths, so that they can be meaningfully engaged.”
President Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, reminded Nigerians that “security is a shared responsibility which underscores the importance of identifying and reporting suspicious activities.”
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to be vigilant and report suspicious characters to security agencies, adding that “to facilitate this, the office of the National Security Adviser is working with the Ministry of Communication to make telephone service operators provide toll free emergency lines that are going to be very easy to remember by the public.”
The President challenged participants to come up with simple and effective strategies for raising public awareness on indicators of security threats and to emphasise the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
In his own remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad II, said the presence of high ranking traditional rulers from across the country indicated the concern and commitment of traditional institutions to the peace and security of Nigeria.
He thanked the Federal Government for setting up the committee.
The Sultan expressed concern over the fate of report that would emanate from the summit and said, “I pray that at the end of this summit, the recommendations that would be put forward and sent to the government will not be thrown into the dust bin as so many others before this kind of summit.”
In his goodwill message, the Asagba of Asaba, Professor Chike Edozie observed that most nations in the world have gone through conflicts and wars.
“ People leave their nationalities and religion to come together on their own and wish to be together and remain as a country. We need to have done more to bring the people together so that we all merge our various traditional cultures and religions into becoming one nation” he said.
He continued: “We are happy that this has now has been recognised and we are here today to begin that journey that will lead to Nigeria becoming one nation, one people out of this diversity.”
Most speakers at the occasion condemned the activities of Boko Haram and other armed groups that have unleashed mayhem on different parts of the country.
Others speakers at the summit who included, Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Shehu Abubakar Ibn Umar; Tor-Tiv, Chief Alfred Torkula; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe; the representative of Oni of Ife, Oba Aderemi Adeniyi-Adedapo, Minister of Defence, Mohammed Haliru Bello and Minister of Information Labaran Maku. They all acknowledged that this is trying period for the nation due to its challenging security situation.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were the President of Nigerian Guild of Editors and General Manager/Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye; spokesperson of the State Security Services, SSS, Marilyn Ogar; former Commissioner of Police, FCT, Command, Mr. Lawrence Alobi; Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Philips Salawu, and Director General, NOA, Alhaji Idi Farouk, among othersTerrorists and arms networks are threat to national security