Nigeria’s silent success in regulating the use of explosives – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

Nigeria’s silent success in regulating the use of explosives – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

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At the height of the terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Boko Haram and other insurgent groups increased the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Most of the IEDs deployed by these terrorist groups were made from ammonium nitrate and carbamide, which are also used for controlled explosions (mines, for example) and as fertilizer.

The continued risk of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials by non-state actors for terrorist or other criminal purposes has become one of the most serious concerns of the Nigerian government.

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According to Action On Armed Violence (AOAV), a security think tank that focuses specifically on the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas, from 2011 to 2020, 11,649 deaths and injuries from explosive violence have been recorded. in Nigeria.

AOAV also reported that IEDs caused the most damage during the reporting period, with 92% of civilians killed and injured resulting from this type of violence.

The use of CBRNE materials for IEDs peaked in 2015, with 2,920 civilian deaths and injuries recorded as a result of explosive violence.

In response, the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) was mandated to develop a policy and strategic framework to counter the threat.

In both the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the National Counterterrorism Strategy (NACTEST), the illegal and unauthorized use of CBRNE by non-state actors has been clearly identified as a threat to national security.

These documents call for increased awareness of the importance and benefits of adherence to and full implementation of international legal instruments against CBRNE terrorism; provide assistance to national policy makers and law enforcement agencies in drafting and revising relevant legislation.

He also called for building the capacity of criminal justice officials to ensure the effective investigation, prosecution and adjudication of CBRNE-related terrorism offences; develop and disseminate training tools; and strengthening national, regional and international cooperation in criminal matters related to CBRNE terrorism.

Stricter measures have therefore been put in place to regulate the sale of fertilizers and controlled explosives.

For example, all fertilizer producers and suppliers must be registered with the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), while all fertilizer distributors and farmers in Nigeria must be registered under the of the Growth Enhancement Program (GES) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

These measures and others implemented in recent years have resulted in a substantial reduction in the ability of terrorist groups to gain access to CBRNE materials used in the manufacture of IEDs.

In September 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari passed a bill to the National Assembly to control arms proliferation and regulate the import of explosives into the country.

This is said to be part of efforts to significantly reduce illegal access to CBRNE materials.

This stems from the fact that apart from the use of these materials by terrorists, the indiscriminate and uncertified use of explosives at illegal mining sites is a violation of the Nigerian Arms and Explosives Control Act.

The bill sought to repeal the Explosives Act 1964 and enact a new law that would regulate the manufacture, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sale, transportation, import and export of explosives and other related issues.

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is responsible for licensing explosives for use in mining and construction, with additional safety checks carried out by NAHO through the certification of the end user.

A person wishing to trade in explosives is required, by the provisions of the bill, to apply for a licence, permit or certificate to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development.

When granted, this approval is valid for a period of one year from the date of issue.

When the Minister denies the application, an applicant who is not satisfied with the decision can go to court to challenge the Minister’s decision.

In addition, an applicant must be reviewed by the appropriate security agency at the request of the Minister, to determine suitability for licensing.

In addition, according to the bill, a license can be modified, revoked or suspended by the minister in certain circumstances specified in the bill.

It is important to note that at the heart of Nigeria’s success in controlling access to CBRNE materials is effective collaboration among relevant stakeholders in Nigeria.

It also involves cooperation between regional and international partners, particularly in the areas of capacity building and the provision of training tools.

Experts believe that building staff capacity in accordance with global best practices and standards in detecting illicit trafficking of CBRNE materials is crucial.

So in 2022, the Nigerian Police, in collaboration with ONSA and the US Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Smuggling, Detection and Deterrence (NSDD), approved the continuing training of personnel of the Nigerian police. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD-CBRN) Command over the operation and maintenance of the Mobile Detection System (MDS).

Practical training is an ongoing effort to reassess and redefine performance levels to achieve the goal of protecting the nation against homeland security threats.

Indeed, federal government efforts to regulate the use of CBRNEs have been successful, resulting in the virtual elimination of access to their illegal and unauthorized use by terrorists and illegal miners.

While such efforts deserve praise, it is necessary to avoid complacency and hope that the various interventions put in place will be sustained over the long term in the interest of national security. (NANFeatures)

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