By Bolaji Ogundele (The Nation)
An outright ban on the use of motorcycles (Okada) and the suspension of mining are parts of fresh measures being considered by the Federal Government to curtail terrorism.
The National Security Council rose from a meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday with a resolution that a nationwide ban on motorcycle operations will cripple the movements of terrorists.
The suspension of mining, the Council said, would cut off funding sources for terror activities.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, dropped the hints in a chat with reporters after the Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Malami, who was flanked by Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola and Police Affairs Minister Maigari Dingyadi, the steps were part of the resolutions taken by the Council to defeat terrorism.
Malami lamented that terrorists have moved from the conventional ways of funding their activities to mining and ransom taking, making it necessary for the government to act.
He said: “The issues deliberated border on one, the logistics being used by the terrorists, Boko Haram and bandits among others in the act of executing their unfortunate acts of terrorism.
“It was extensively deliberated upon as to what needs to be done for the purpose of ensuring that their means of logistics are indeed adequately considered and necessary steps are taken in degrading their capacity to move around.
“So, discussions were carried out, deliberations made and sizeable resolutions in that direction were equally developed.
“The government would look into that possibility with particular regard to restriction on use and distribution of motorcycles which is the most conventional logistical means being deployed by terrorists.
“Again, issues of funding of the terrorism and the terrorist acts were discussed and deliberated upon and considered.
“As you rightly know, recently the government under the leadership of President Buhari had passed and assented to certain bills inclusive of the Money Laundering, Prevention and Prohibition Act, among others.
“With the passage of that law, the conventional means of terrorists funding and financing was substantially and drastically addressed and that led to forensic analysis of and identification of certain personalities that were in one way or the other connected with terrorism funding and financing.
“But then, new innovations were brought into it, into the terrorists funding and financing inclusive of the use of mineral resources – the mining for example, among others.
“And indeed, ransom, which conventionally has been taken by the terrorists, and then, the need arises to now look into those frontiers that are being considered by the terrorists for the purpose of addressing them accordingly.
“A resolution was equally developed on the need to address frontally, attack and ensure at the end of the day that other considerations being put in place by terrorists in terms of funding their activities are equally addressed.
“And with that in mind, the government is looking at what measures to take in terms of addressing, bridging and blocking associated sources of funding including payment for ransom and indeed, the mining activities and the possibility or otherwise of suspending, for the time being, mining activities, are being considered as well, by the government.
“Other considerations were equally put in place on the table for consideration by the Council with particular regard to the unfortunate incident of the (Kuje) Correctional Service attack.
“There were anticipated resolutions arising from the consequences associated with dereliction of duty.
“Issues associated with logistics of terrorists and bandits, blockage of the source of funding, the likely possible suspension of mining activities if indeed there is a nexus and connection is indeed established; and the issues associated with consequences for dereliction of duty if indeed, it is established regarding the Kuje correctional incident.”
The Interior Minister affirmed that substantial efforts went into intelligence gathering before the recent attack on Kuje Correctional Center.
He, however, regretted that there was the absence of will to act on it.
Aregbesola, who said the preliminary investigation on the attack had been submitted to the President, assured that all those who are found to have shirked their responsibilities at the end of the ongoing investigation would be punished.
He said: “On your specific question to me as to what’s the outcome of our investigation on the Kuje incident, the preliminary report of what happened at Kuje has been sent to the President, but a more detailed, comprehensive report will come at the end of the investigation.
“We are on to find all those, whose action or inaction led to that unfortunate incidents. Those who have shirked their responsibilities will have to face the consequences of their actions.
“On intelligence, of course, we have different levels of intelligence: internal and external intelligence services.
“I must say this with all sense of responsibility. Sufficient effort was made, but unfortunately, for those of you that accompanied me when I visited the place, you heard that I said it very clearly that we had some problem with the will.”
Aregbesola lamented that despite their presence on ground during the attack on the facility, security agencies did not fully do what was expected.
He said: “I have to say that we noticed they were not fully conformed. So, incapacity, in terms of the will, that’s what we mean by whoever was responsible for the failure of defence and security and the breach of that institution’s facility will face the consequence.”
The minister said the government was taking necessary measures to stop the inflow of arms and ammunition used by terrorists.
He said: “As of today, we are strengthening our borders to prevent any importation of arms and dangerous materials that can threaten the integrity of the nations and security of our people.
“This is not limited to Immigration alone, all security forces are at alert at various levels. Do not take your mind off the fact that we have a vast territory and that whatever is happening within Nigeria must be put in the context of what’s happening in the region.
“The Federal Government is not unaware of the need to strengthen the border forces to prevent aggression, or importation of contrabands, particularly arms and ammunition.”