Chadian soldiers: Nigerian Navy disowns senior officer’s comments

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Nigerian Navy has disowned a statement made by one of its officers, Commodore Jamila Abubakar Malafa indicting Chadian soldiers who she claimed ‘sell arms when broke.

Malafa, an international maritime lawyer and a Navy Commodore spoke on Monday at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives committee on national security and intelligence on the consideration of four security bills.

Representing Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, at the public hearing, Commodore Malafa said some of the weapons donated by developed countries to neighbouring nations are finding their ways to non-State actors, thereby complicating the security woes of the country.

Meanwhile, he Navy spokesperson, Commodore Suleiman Dahun in an official statement said the Navy “categorically dissociate itself from the view of the senior officer.” and that that it was “unauthorized, personal comments on the issue of trans-national trafficking of small arms and light weapons.”

The statement by Commodore Dahun, who is Director of Navy Information and Public Relations reads: “The House of Representative Committee on National Security and Intelligence yesterday 27 September 2021 held a public hearing on 4 Bills, including the Bill for an Act to Establish the National Commission Against Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (HB 10).

“During the hearing on this Bill, the representative of the Nigerian Navy (NN) duly presented the position of the Service on the proposed Act but went ahead to make some unauthorized, personal comments on the issue of trans-national trafficking of small arms and light weapons.

“This is as it relates to neighbours with which Nigeria maintains robust diplomatic security relationships/collaborations; a personal opinion that is at variance with the position of the NN.

“The NN wishes to categorically dissociate itself from the view of the senior officer. The NN appreciates the indelible contributions of our regional partners/neighbours in the fight against small arms and light weapons trafficking.

“Pertinently, effective and sustained regional cooperation towards ensuring maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is a key priority of the NN.

“Against this background, the Service acknowledges the regional security efforts of our neighbouring countries within the existing frameworks of bilateral and multilateral cooperations and commits to working assiduously to strengthening these arrangements. Onwards Together,” it concluded.

Commodore Jamila Malafa, has said that Chadian soldiers, when broke, sold their guns

“They do not have armoury. So most of their arms that are being donated by — I don’t want to be specific — the developed countries in the name of assisting us are compounding our problems in Nigeria because you find out that each average Chadian soldier has 20 to 30 arms underneath his bed.

“When he is broke, he brings it out and sells it for $30, $20. I am here, I am standing here, and I am saying it”, she said.

She said the lack of armouries in some of the neighbouring countries makes arms available to their security operatives who in turn sell it off when they are “broke”.

“Section 9 (1) suggests an additional function of proposing a seized weapons and arms be used by security agencies; I think we can look at the provisions of the international convention on the issue of how the arms should be used when seized,” she said.

“I was in charge as a member of the fight against Boko Haram and I can tell you categorically here, I stand to be corrected, that some of these countries that we have borders with have no armoury.

“Since we are going to collaborate with ECOWAS and other countries that are donating such arms to these countries, I think we should insist that they should either enact laws to govern the handling of these arms and ammunition or build an armoury for these countries or else we will not see peace.”

Speaking on the bill to establish integration of private close circuit television (CCTV) to fight insecurity, Abubakar said: “I think we should build a wall between us and these neighbouring countries or we should have serious surveillance or else we will not see peace in this country. I am telling you this, I have been in that area for years, so I know what is happening.”

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said “knowledge would be drawn from everywhere,” because security is an important national issue.

“The security agencies are welcome to make submissions but everyone is welcome to submit as well.

“I say so because I want to underscore the fact that security is about everyone and we are all stakeholders,” he said.