Paul Obi in Abuja
The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) Monday revealed that Boko Haram terrorists and bombers operating in the North-east region now rely on the influence of drugs to attack, commit heinous crimes and other acts of terrorism.
It was discovered that most suicide bombings and other violent crimes are carried out under the influence of drugs.
This was made known at a five-day conference on National Chemical Security in Abuja with the theme: â€˜Towards a Secured Importation, Distribution, Storage and Use of Chemicals in Nigeriaâ€™.
According to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), the increasing spate of attacks by terrorists in the region is linked to the use of hard drugs.
Monguno, represented by Coordinator of Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Rear Adm. Yaminu, said: â€œThe National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism is aimed at identifying early warning signs of violent extremism, pre-empt and prevent it from manifesting.
â€œOne of such acts of violent extremism is the suicide-bombing phenomenon, a tactic being exploited by the Boko Haram terrorists, especially in the North-eastern part of the country.â€
He explained that â€œin response to this ugly phenomenon, we have extended our counter IED efforts beyond control of explosives and precursor materials to include the human aspect of the threat, which is the motivational factor.
â€œWe have identified that most of these violent crimes, such as person-borne IEDs, are perpetrated under the influence of drugs.â€™â€™
He added that to curtail the surge in drug-related violent extremism and others, â€œthe centre had included certain drugs often abused and their various precursors as chemicals of concerns.â€
The coordinator said those drugs required strict control measures for their importation, manufacture, distribution, storage and usage.
On use of chemicals, he stated that the ONSA had identified the prevalent types of explosives, accessories, fertilizers and precursor chemicals used in the preparation of the IEDs.
He stated that the findings were arrived at after investigation carried out over the years on series of Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) incidents in urban terrorism and insurgency theatre of operations.
â€œIED attacks have become an integral part the Boko Haram terroristsâ€™ tactics. Over the years, countries faced with the threats and dual use of chemical substances and precursor for illicit and criminal activities, have evolved strategies to mitigate, pre-empt and respond to such threats.
â€œSimilarly in Nigeria, we have also included counter IED initiatives in our National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST).
â€œThe focus of this strategy is to attack the criminal network of sourcing for the materials used in preparing the IEDs, including the various dual use chemicals, explosives/accessories and specific blends of fertilizers,â€™â€™ he said.
He identified the MDAs as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete Ibas, called for intelligence sharing among all security agencies to check importation and smuggling of illicit drugs and dangerous chemical substance into the country.
Represented by Rear Admiral A B Adamu, the naval boss assured Nigerians of the role of the navy to checkmate the importation of harmful chemicals to the country.
He said: â€œWhile the Nigerian Navy would continue to monitor the movements of dangerous and harmful chemicals by land and sea, it has become imperative for all stakeholders to do things that would lead to a more secure Nigeria under the present circumstance.â€
Also speaking, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, explained that the time has come for the federal government to declare emergency in the drug and chemical sectors of the countryâ€™s economy in view of its porous borders.
â€œSome weeks ago, about three trucks of Tramadol were impounded, after NAFDAC received a tip off on their exit from Apapa port, we were told the substance were being transported to Yola, Adamawa State, probably to Sambisa forest.
â€œYou will all agree with me that it will be difficult for a normal person to strap around herself IED, this is what our young girls are being made to do.
â€œIt is because their minds have been stolen. Therefore, we must do everything possible to address this issue. We will be hiding our heads in the sands as far as the importation, storage and transportation of drugs and chemicals into the country are concerned,â€Adeyeye stated.
Also, Mr. David Centofante of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stressed the need for collective effort to control the use of chemicals.
Centofante stated that such effort was necessary to prevent such substances from getting into the hands of criminal elements and terrorists.
He maintained that there was need for shared responsibility in chemical security and in dealing with the threats of chemical weapons which he said were not peculiar to any nation.
The five-day conference is expected to brainstorm on threats of chemicals and drugs to national security, and would focus on various aspects of transportation security, physical protection of chemical installations and chemical security vulnerability.