THE recent discovery of an armoury of sophisticated weapons and ammunition in the heart of the city of Kano is a strong evidence of prevalent security lapses that have so often paved the way for an uncontrolled inflow of illegal weapons into the country. The weapons, described by military authorities as “weapons of mass destruction,” were hidden in a bunker of a building owned by a Lebanese businessman currently said to be on the run.
Reportedly found in the armoury were “103 packs Slap TNT dynamites (with each pack containing 16 pieces) used in preparing explosives; 76 military hand grenades; one 60mm anti-tank weapon; two rounds of 122mm artillery gun ammunition; and four anti-tank mines.” There were also “21 Rocket Propelled Gun bombs; 16 RPG charges; one RGP tube; nine pistols; one sub-machine gun; two sub-machine gun magazines; 17 AK-47 rifles; 44 AK-47 magazines and 11, 433 rounds of 7.62mm Special and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ammunition.” They were all traced to Hezbollah, the deadly Lebanon-based terror organisation with notoriety for targeting Israeli and Western interests all over the world.
No doubt, the discovery is scary in a nation reeling under the pains inflicted by the deadly Boko Haram terror group operating in several parts of Nigeria. Although investigators have yet to link the weapon discovery to Boko Haram, it is easy to see why the Islamists have been so successful in carrying out their terror campaigns here since imported arms can easily find their way into the country.
This is why security agencies must move fast to investigate the arrested three Lebanese suspects – Fauzi Fawaz, Abdullahi Tanini and Talal Roda, all naturalised Nigerians – to find out their motives. Efforts should also be made to bring Tahir Fadallah, who partly owns the Wonder Amusement Park and Amigo Supermarket in Abuja, and in whose house the weapons were found, back for questioning.
One of the disturbing aspects of the discovery is its portrayal of Nigeria as fast becoming a playground for international terror groups, who are finding it hard to operate in other climes because the governments there are clamping down on them. While our government is distracted by the political power game, determined and motivated terror groups, bent on destroying Nigeria, are being treated with levity and allowed to commit havoc.
In a trend that is gradually emerging in the country, a Ukrainian cargo plane filled with sophisticated weapons was impounded by security operatives in July 2009. Similarly, an Iranian, Azim Aghajani, with his Nigerian accomplice (Ali Jega), was apprehended at the Lagos port a year later for importing 13 containers of firearms, while 15 Russians were arrested for the importation of arms in October last year.
With some of the current suspects repeatedly being linked to the previous illegal importations, our security agencies need to do more to address the menace. The Federal Government should empower the security operatives to do their job with an unimpeded freedom, employing intelligence gathering as a key component in the fight against terrorism.
Although the security agents claim that the weapons discovered in Kano were stockpiled to “attack Israeli and Western interests in Nigeria,” just as the leaders of another foreign terror cell, Abdullahi Berende, suspected of spying for Iran in Lagos, said after his arrest early this year, there is no doubt that, in carrying out their attacks, they could also harm Nigerians. Nigeria should not allow her territory to be used as a base for attacks on foreign interests.
The Nigeria Immigration Service should check the unfettered entry of foreigners into the country, to the extent that illegal immigrants are taking up even artisanal jobs that should be handled by Nigerians under our laws. The Federal Government should redefine our national interest to ensure that those who should not be in the country do not find their way in. For now, terror groups are exploiting our loose foreign policy that grants easy access to nationals from countries that are well known for sponsoring terror acts in other countries.
There are gadgets and equipment that could be employed to make the job of security agents easier. Unfortunately, in a clear example of crass negligence, a scanner installed at Seme border – the point between Nigeria and Benin Republic – in 2006 by the Nigeria Customs Service, in collaboration with a private operator, meant to detect weapons, and capable of examining 160 trucks a day, has been largely left unutilised because of the laxity of the security agencies. Government has to show seriousness by compelling the usage of such equipment.
However, the latest attempt to undermine Nigeria’s territorial integrity via terrorism is too closely linked with our recent past to be termed a coincidence. The terror war being waged by foreign elements against Nigeria is real. The Federal Government needs to change the uncoordinated response to arms importation into Nigeria by tackling the countries the importers represent. It is time to re-assess our relationship with countries known for exporting terrorism to other parts of the world.
Also, the Federal Government should collaborate more with the judiciary and the National Assembly in the fight against terror. The National Assembly should regularly review the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 (as amended) with a view to strengthening it to be able to hand down stiffer punishments to convicted felons, as it is done in other climes, while the judiciary should quickly deal with terror cases.
As for the local populace, vigilance is important, as the foreigners, who are easily identifiable because of their colour, will have to operate in partnership with Nigerians before they can succeed. Nigerians should be patriotic enough to tip off the security agencies about the nefarious activities of these foreign terrorists and their local confederates, whose sole aim is to dismember the country.
culled from http://www.punchng.com/
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