FG declares NATFORCE illegal
Stephen Angbulu, Abuja
6 June 2021
The Federal Government has declared the National Taskforce on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition, Light Weapons, Chemical Weapons and Pipeline Vandalism an illegal security outfit.
It has, therefore, directed NATFORCE and other such groups to immediately end their operations nationwide.
The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), gave the directive in a statement on Sunday.
Only on Monday, NATFORCE said it had received Israeli experts that will train its management staff and operatives.
It said the Israelis, from “world-renowned international security trainer organisation, ETOS Company, arrived at NATFORCE head office penultimate Thursday.
But the Head, Strategic Communication, Office of the National Security Adviser, ZM Usman, disclosed the NSA’s position on the group in a statement titled ‘Office of the National Security Adviser directs the dismantling of illegal security outfits.’
He said the NSA had directed the immediate dismantling of all illegal security outfits and warned against the use of these outfits to extort, harass and intimidate Nigerians. The statement read in part,
“In particular, the office has cautioned individuals, organisations and foreign partners on the activities of NATFORCE which was illegally formed as a task force to combat illegal importation and smuggling of small arms, ammunition and light weapons into Nigeria.”
“The National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser is the national coordination mechanism for the control and monitoring of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.”
“The Office of the National Security Adviser has observed with concern the proliferation of illegal security outfits in the country.”
The NSA accused these illegal outfits of extorting, harassing and intimidating Nigerians while masquerading as part of the Nigerian security architecture.
“One of such groups is NATFORCE which seeks to combat illegal importation of Arms, Ammunition, Light Weapons, Chemical Weapons and Pipeline Vandalism and has been involved in mounting illegal roadblocks, conducting illegal searches, seizures and recruitment.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the general public and all stakeholders are to note that NATFORCE is an illegal outfit without any mandate or authority to carry out these functions.”
“This trend is unacceptable and the promoters of NATFORCE are warned to dismantle their structures and operations immediately,” he added.
Following the establishment of the NCCSALW on May 3, 2021, the country has initiated the process for the full implementation of Article 24 of the ECOWAS Convention on small arms and light weapons.
The NSA, therefore, urged national and international stakeholders to work closely with the NCCSALW to stabilise Government-Civil Society initiatives.