By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Office of the National Security Adviser has directed the immediate dismantling of all illegal security outfits being used to extort, harass and intimidate Nigerians across the country.
ONSA gave the directive in a statement by its Head, Strategic Communication, Mr Zakari Usman, on Sunday in Abuja.
It also cautioned individuals, organisations and foreign partners particularly on the activities of a security outfit known as “NATFORCE”.
It said that the outfit was illegally formed as a taskforce to combat illegal importation and smuggling of small arms, ammunitions and light weapons into the country.
ONSA said that the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) domiciled in it, was the national co-ordination mechanism for the control and monitoring of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.
According to the statement, ONSA has observed with concern the proliferation of illegal security outfits in the country.
“These illegal outfits have been masquerading and acting as part of the Nigerian security architecture while extorting, harassing and intimidating Nigerians.
“One of such groups is NATFORCE which seeks to combat illegal importation of arms, ammunition, light weapons, chemical weapons and pipeline vandalism and has been involved in mounting of illegal roadblocks, conducting illegal searches, seizures and recruitment.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the general public and all stakeholders are to note that NATFORCE is an illegal outfit without any mandate or authority to carry out these functions.
“This trend is unacceptable and the promoters of NATFORCE are warned to dismantle their structures and operations immediately,” it said.
ONSA said that Nigeria had initiated the process for the full implementation of Article 24 of the ECOWAS Convention on small arms and light weapons following the setting up of NCCSALW on May 3.
It urged the national and international stakeholders to work closely with the centre to strengthen Government-Civil Society initiatives. (NAN)