The threat of terrorists’ activities to the security of lives and property has become real in recent times following the devastating reign of terror they have unleashed on the populace in parts of the country. To counter the menace, the Anti-bomb Command otherwise known as the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) is currently training 100 of its personnel to checkmate terrorists. Chiemelie Ezeobi writes
It is often said that the best form of defence is attack and in so many instances, this strategy has yielded positive impact. Following this reality, the Anti-bomb Command of the Nigeria Police recently made a move to counter the forces of terrorism in the nation.
Otherwise known as the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), the command recently sent the first batch of 100 of its personnel nationwide on a counter-terrorism course that would take all of four weeks. This move was undoubtedly informed by the increasing spate of terrorism in the country by the Boko Haram sect who in their quest for violence, have maimed lives and destroyed property worth billions of naira.
Recently, the dreaded sect set their target on media houses and Abuja and Kaduna offices of THISDAY Newspaper were viciously attacked. Not done with their nefarious and ill-conceived actions, the sect also promised to unleash further mayhem on the watchdog of the society for what they termed the biased coverage of their activities by the media.
Piqued by this and several other bombing activities of the sect which seemed to be on the increase, it was gathered that the Acting Inspector General of the Nigeria Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar, threw his weight behind the training course to equip the police personnel in countering terrorism.
Speaking during the official declaration of the Basic EOD Training Course 15 (a), 2012 for the Anti-Bomb (EOD) technicians and investigators in at the Traffic Training Wing, Ikeja, Lagos, Abubakar said the training is germane going by the security crisis in the country. The IG who was represented by the Commissioner of Police Anti-Bomb Command, Mr. Foluso Adebanjo, said crime is a threat to the security of any nation and the state of insecurity is an infertile ground for the economic, political, social and wholesome advancement of any country. He also said an unfriendly security climate precludes both external and internal investment into the nation.
According to him, the objective of the EOD is to combat misapplication of explosives and allied accessories by societal deviants against national security and economic interests. To this end, he said the frightening and lethal usage of explosives do manifest itself in form of suicide bombings, arson, vehicle borne IEDs, destruction of private/government establishments and security agencies/residents who have become target of attacks.
He said: “The mischievous users misused and misapplied IEDS in methods that suites them who unjustifiably measure their redress of any perceived injustices or wrong to individual or group in our society. Issues of concern to Nigerians and security agencies alike are focused on how to generate ideas on solutions in tackling the menace. Security challenges facing the country are affecting our economic, political and social development. The best solution is on ways to address them with the right action it deserves.”
As against the era when the EOD took a back seat role in security, Adebanjo said their roles are now more pronounced than ever before in view of the recent bombings with unprecedented pressure and increasing demand from commands, government institutions, private organisations, religious bodies and even embassies etc clamouring for EOD services on daily basis.
Undoubtedly, he said their present strength is over stretched and unable to cope with the challenges at hand and it has become pertinent to urgently increase the command workforce to meet with the emerging trends.
Accordingly, he said the approval to train the first batch, course 15a comprising of 100 officers and men is timely and clearly outlines the IG’s vision and mission agenda, which is aimed at improving the general security in the country.
Going down memory lane, he said the Nigeria Police Anti-Bomb Command otherwise known as EOD is indeed advancing in geometrical progression since its inception in 1976 as a unit. According to him, the unit in its initial pioneering strength and personnel made up of inspector J.I Ankoh, a class A1 Armoyuere and Ammunition Technical officer and three others. However, it soon metamorphosed into a squadron in 1982 and was therefore upgraded to a command structure in 2008.
On what gave room to the formation of the unit he said the Nigerian Civil War, which ended in 1970 brought in its wake remnants and relics of weapons of war, amongst them bombs/explosives all over the Eastern states of Nigeria. The region, he added, was the theatre of Nigeria/Biafra conflict.
To this end, he said Unexploded Objects (UXOs) such as mortar bombs, military grenades were littered all over and were becoming potential threat to humans and assets thereby prompting the establishment of the EOD.
Listing the duties and constitutional roles of the EOD, Adebanjo said although the command is involved in the disposal/demolition of wartime bombs, it erroneously created the impression that the command was solely formed for that purpose. In other words, he said the function of the command have tremendously increased alongside with the technological advancements, and socio-economic dynamics.
In the actual sense, the EOD he said is saddled with the responsibility of detecting, identifying, recovery, field evacuating and reading safe of explosives; the recovery and disposal of demolition of explosives which have become hazardous by deterioration; the identification, recovery, and neutralization/disposal of commercial explosives in the event if negative application of terrorist/unauthorised persons.
He added: “The EOD also provides escort of explosives/radioactive materials to prevent the loss of control; provision of security coverage of important events to ensure bomb-free environment; provision of specialised EOD security services at airports, seaports and other entry points; provision of security at key and vulnerable points such as explosive magazines, oil and related facilities, government installations to prevent sabotage as well as investigation of cases involving the use of explosives and appearance in court to give evidence.
“We also attend proactively to cases of bomb blasts through the use of IEDs in any part of the country. Also, we do public enlightenment on the hazardous nature of explosives and their toxic chemical and relevant safety and precautionary measures to police institutions, government and their interested organisations; general enforcement of explosives/mining regulations laws and Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Agency Legislations and ensure public safety by combating terrorism on oil pipeline vandalisation /bombing.”
Most importantly, he said the EOD is saddled with the inspection and control of commercial explosives/radioactive materials which are legally imported to ensure that all such importation are in accordance with the import permit/license issued by the relevant authorities.
Speaking to the participants, he urged them to make good use of the opportunity and privilege afforded them through the training. “You should ensure that the resources unvested on the training is not wasted but to help in promoting this command’s proficiency and professionalism
“I will not tolerate any acts of indiscipline and unethical practices or action. EOD is a family and our operational lives give no room for laziness and indolence. EOD command have standards and we must endeavour to uphold the standard and ethics of discipline in the force and professionalism is an essential part of our daily life and we invest in it at improving ourselves in that line and spirit,” he said.