Paul Obi in Abuja

The federal government on Saturday called for the defeat and disruption of Boko Haram insurgents and other terrorists’ theatre of operation and their ability to acquire drugs and other chemical agents.

This was the submission by experts and stakeholders at the end of a five day summit on National Chemical Security in Abuja.

According to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mungonu (rtd), represented by the Director, Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser, Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa, basic standards must be adhered to in the use of drugs and chemical agents around the country.

He said: “The dual use of chemical precursor touched on some priority areas in the on-going counter IED strategy of NACTEST.

“The overriding challenges in the transportation, distribution, storage and usage of hazardous and sensitive material and precursor chemicals were clearly identified.

“The need to adhere to standards and corporate with regulating MDA were also emphasised. To defeat the IED networks of criminal element and insurgents in the urban and insurgency theatre of operation, their material acquisition processes and other critical phases need to be effectively disrupted.”

Musa explained that “the critical lesson learnt from this five days engagement and training has really increased our understanding of the prevailing threat and vulnerability faced by the chemical industry in Nigeria.

“Threat arising from intentional and criminal acts, accidents and natural occurrence were also part of the lessons of interest.

“The need to know our working environment and what the inherent threat on material, environment, human factors and those external to our working environment.

“The detection, mitigation and response to these threats and vulnerability as identified could only be effectively tackled by well trained and motivated personnel from the security and relevant regulatory MDAs.

“The need for the reassessment of our existing security measures and ensures a proper upgrade. It is therefore important for a continuous training and re-training of relevant personnel and improve on human reliability program to minimise insider threats in our critical national assets and infrastructure.”

In the communique, stakeholders maintained that “the increase in cases of smuggling of harmful drugs, narcotics and other chemicals of concerns into Nigeria, it is agreed that NAFDAC and NDLEA should be deployed at the airports, seaports and other land ports in Nigeria, to work with other border agencies in chemical anti-smuggling enforcement.

“Conscious of the need to enhance knowledge in identification of drugs, narcotics, chemicals, explosives and fertilisers on the part of the border agencies, it was agreed that NCS, NIS, AVSEC and NPA personnel deployed at all land, sea and air border posts should be given awareness on explosives, accessories, drugs, narcotics, fertilizers and other chemicals of concerns.”

They added that “it was agreed that the curriculum for chemical security and safety should be developed and introduced into the curriculum of secondary schools, tertiary and training institutions of relevant MDAs in Nigeria through the FME, SME, NUC, NBTE, NCCE etc.

“Considering the importance of certification and security vetting as a tool for regulating the downstream sector of the chemical industry, it was agreed that NAFDAC should ensure that only duly certified chemical practitioners, who are members of their professional bodies, are appointed as approved persons in chemical distributor companies, laboratories of secondary/tertiary educational institutions, including allied manufacturing industries in Nigeria.

“Noting the safety and security implication of improper handling of chemicals, it was agreed that ONSA should set up a committee comprising experts from the MMSD, Min of Agriculture, NAFDAC, Min of Transport, Nigerian Railway Corporation, NNRA, NPF EOD, NSCDC, CEDAN, FEPSAN, SON, Nigeria Chemical Society and other relevant Stakeholders to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the handling of Hazardous Materials in Nigeria.”

They stressed that “conscious of the importance of human reliability in security of the chemical industry, it was agreed that all chemical, explosives, accessories and fertiliser handling companies should have human reliability programme/training as an integral part of their company security policy.

“Considering the importance of personnel data base infrastructure in the chemical industry, it was agreed that the MMSD and Min. of Agriculture should automate the application processes for appropriate explosives and fertilisers permits as applicable in chemicals permit by NAFDAC for chemicals.

“Concerned about the menace of drug abuse as a motivator for perpetrating violent extremism and other crimes, it was agreed that NAFDAC should expand the scope of its existing Federal Task Force on Fake and Counterfeit Drugs to address the menace of drugs/chemicals abuse and adulteration, including improper storage of hazardous chemicals in Nigeria.

“Considering the importance of strategic communications in creating awareness on the use of chemicals, it was agreed that NAFDAC, MMSD and Ministry of Agriculture should develop security advisory on general outreach media for chemicals, explosives, accessories and fertilizers in Nigeria. The media should also carry the contacts phone numbers of the MDAs.

“Noting the importance of advanced information in checking the activities and chemical abuse by individuals and criminal elements, it was agreed that MMSD, Ministry of Agriculture and NAFDAC should work out modalities to introduce whistle blowing initiatives to curb the menace of chemicals, explosives, accessories and fertiliser abuse/diversion in Nigeria.”