Also, the seizure of 10 truck-loads of arms from Libya has strengthened the resolve of Nigeria to work in synergy with the governments of Mali, Central African Republic, Mauritania and Niger to stop the infiltration of such Libyan weapons into their territories.
Minister of Defence, Dr. Haliru Mohammed Bello, disclosed this yesterday when he visited the Defence complex, Area 7, Abuja, where he held discussions with the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin; Service Chiefs – Lt.-Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika (Army); Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim (Navy) and Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar (Air Force) – and other principal officers of Defence and Service Headquarters on the security challenges facing the country.
In his first maiden formal visit to them, Bello announced that as part of the measures aimed at checking the infiltration of weapons from Libya through Niger Republic, Nigeria was working to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its northern neighbour, Niger Republic.
Bello, who came with his Minister of State, Erelu Olusola Obada and directors from the Ministry of Defence said that Nigeria, Mali, Central African Republic, Mauritania and Niger were setting up a joint operation.
He told the top military brass that as part of the measures geared towards maintaining a modern military, “we have also set in motion a process for amending the conditions of service for the armed forces to increase the age of retirement for various positions. This is because we have noted that due to better healthcare and better economic environment, armed forces personnel are retiring at ages when they are still strong and able-bodied to be useful to the armed forces. So, we are increasing the age limit that we retain experienced personnel longer than is allowed now in the armed forces regulation.”
The minister also said that the European Union (EU) had already approached Nigeria towards forming a common front to stop inflow of weapons from Libya as they “have fears also of disruption in our sub-region if these weapons are allowed to proliferate without challenges.”
Bello also thanked the leadership and personnel of the Nigerian military for their patriotic efforts in helping to fight the menace of the new security challenges, including terrorism, saying that “if not because of the tremendous efforts our security agencies and the armed forces are putting, this country would have been on fire by now. We are faced with daunting challenges and these demand from all of us extra efforts and extra vigilance. And it also demands that we reappraise our methods and systems because we are faced with situations that hitherto were not known to us. I am referring particularly to acts of terrorism that have become pervasive in this country.”
Bello said at the Defence Headquarters conference room that “fears have been expressed about arms coming from Niger and our lack of military representation in that country. I appreciate the effort of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin and the initiative of asking the deputy concierge to move to Niger. We are going to set a process in motion to ensure that the government approves the establishment of Defence Attaché for Niger. We are very much aware of the movement of arms and explosives that were stolen from Libya. And I have discussed with the Minister of Defence of Niger recently and he confirmed to me that yes, arms are coming in. Recently, they (Nigerien authorities) had (intercepted) about 10 trucks coming in from Libya. And they (Nigerien authorities) had to fight them. They killed six people and arrested all the 10 trucks and all of them were loaded with weapons.
“So, the fears are genuine. But we are up and doing. And we are doing something about it. We are working to set up a Memorandum of Understanding with Niger. And the European Union has just approached that they would also like to work with us. They have fears also of disruption in our sub-region if these weapons are allowed to proliferate without challenges.
SOURCE :THE GUARDIAN