Posted by News Express | 31 July 2022 | 345 times
Security experts have kicked against the Senate’s inclusion of what they called illegal security outfit – the National Taskforce on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition, Light Weapons, Chemical Weapons and Pipeline Vandalism (NATFORCE) in the new Act establishing the National Commission for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The Senate on Tuesday passed into law the Bill establishing the Commission, while the House of Representatives is expected to pass its version upon resumption in September 2022.
The security experts urged the lawmakers to expunge NATFORCE from the Bill during the harmonisation of the two versions.
They argued that removing NATFORCE from the Bill will correct the anomaly inadvertently caused by the Senate, which included the illegal organisation.
The National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) currently domiciled in the office of the National Security Adviser and headed by Major-General A. M Dikko (rtd) is the Federal Government’s only national coordination mechanism for the control and monitoring of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
With the passage of the Bill into law by the Senate and its expected subsequent passage by the House of Representatives, the NCCSALW will transform into a full-fledged Commission any moment from now.
But the security experts have said that the lawmakers have the onerous task of ensuring that illegal entities like NATFORCE are not captured in the final copy of the Bill before passing it into law for the President’s assent.
They noted that aside from the declaration of NATFORCE by the High Court and the Court of Appeal as illegal, the Federal Government had since banned the illegal body.
A Kaduna-based security consultant, Commander Yusuf Ibrahim (rtd), wondered why an illegal and dangerous body like NATFORCE, which had allegedly been indicted for its involvement in gunrunning and supply of arms and ammunition to some of the militant groups in the South East states should be included in such a sensitive security and firearms regulatory body.
Ibrahim warned that if NATFORCE is not barred from the membership of the proposed Commission the alleged gunrunning activities of some of its members could compound the already volatile security situation in the country.
According to the security expert, “In June 2021, Federal Government had declared NATFORCE an illegal security outfit and directed it and other similar groups to immediately disband and put end to their illegal operations nationwide.
He wondered why the illegal security outfit, has continued to operate in spite of its ban by the Federal Government, which prohibited its existence in all parts of the country.
Speaking in the same vein, another security expert and National Coordinator of the Centre for Security, Peace and Democracy (CSPD), Dr. Samuel Adesola, recalled that NATFORCE had since been declared illegal by the competent courts of the country, including the High Court and Court of Appeal, in addition to the recent ban of its operations in all parts of the country.
Adesola said it’s, however, curious that such “an illegal, illegitimate and dangerous body” should now be included by the Senate in its version of the Bill, which seeks to establish a legally constituted Commission.
According to him, the Court of Appeal judgment has put an end to NATFORCE’s numerous suits against the Department of State Service (DSS), expressing surprise that the illegal body had remained recalcitrant and even intensified its deception of the unsuspecting members of the public that it is recognised by law by always being quick to cite a judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which the Court of Appeal has since nullified.
He reminded the Senate that the Executive Bill, which provided the legal framework for NCCSALW legally, ended NATFORCE’s illegal activities and should not have included it in the Act establishing the new Commission.
Adesola, therefore, urged the House of Representatives to correct the anomaly in the Bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday by ensuring that NATFORCE is not included in its own version before passing it into law.
The CSPD boss further stated that the issues raised by NATFORCE in its suit at the Federal High Court Abuja to challenge the powers of the Minister of Finance to disband the illegal group has been put to rest by the Federal High Court in Ilorin, Kwara State. (The Guardian)
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