The declaration of the National Taskforce on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition, Light Weapons, Chemical Weapons and Pipeline Vandalism (NATFORCE) as an illegal security outfit by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), has been described as anti-democratic and against the rule of law.
This was the conviction of human rights organization, Forum in Support of Rule of Law (FSRL), that condemned strongly the purported declaration of the NSA, pointing out that the step taken by the retired General was not only against the interest of the generality of Nigerians but also unpopular and unwelcome development.
In a statement signed by the National Convener of the organization, Comrade Chaka Malamdori and made available to the media in Abuja Monday, the group reminded that, an Abuja Federal High Court Abuja under Hon. Justice E.S. Chukwu on April 30th 2013 has declared the outfit legal.
The case under reference was a civil suit brought before that court by the outfit against the Federal Minister of Finance, Federal Ministry of Finance and the Inspector General of Police, and the judge declared the outfit as legal.
Besides, the organization further reminded that, the National Assembly, the democratic organs to make Laws for the country are already handling a Bill that has passed a Second Reading towards adoption of the outfit as a state security agency.
The sponsors of the bill, according to record, were former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara (APC, Bauchi) and Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi) at the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively.
The organization therefore wondered how a top government official, who should know better about the rule of law in a democratic setting, should, despite the subsisting court verdict on the matter should ignore it and went ahead to declare it and others like it illegal and thus be disbanded!
The organization, in the statement stressed the need for all hands to be on deck to collectively combat the security challenges pulling the country down to her knees, asserting that, “any outfit established through legislative means like the NATFORCE should be allowed to operate in the country.”
What is expected of the authorities, private sectors and other well-meaning Nigerians both home and abroad is to join hands to assist such a security outfit through training and procurement of weapons and logistics to make it effective, condemning any act that would jeopardize such an initiative meant for the security of lives and properties.
“The most disappointing of the NSA’s declaration was its coming at the time the Director-General of the outfit, Dr. Baba Mohammed, was said to have received Israeli experts that will train its management staff and operatives,” condemning the statement from the , Office of the National Security Adviser, signed by its Head, Strategic Communication, ZM Usman, directing the immediate dismantling of all illegal security outfits!”
The group lamented that, the NSA specifically descended on NATFORCE in the statement that read in part that, “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.”
In conclusion, the organization urged all well-meaning Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to prevail on the NSA to have a rethink on the issue for the benefit of the citizenry more so when a Bill on it is before the country’s legislative organs, asserting that, “the need for assured security of lives and property in the country at this point in time could not be over-emphasized.”