The Nigerian Navy has disowned a statement made by Commodore Jamila Abubakar Malafa indicting Chadian soldiers.
Malafa, an international maritime lawyer and Navy’s first female Commodore, spoke on Monday at a public hearing by the House of Representatives.
The event was organized by the committee on national security and intelligence for deliberations on four security bills.
They include the Bill for an Act to Establish the National Commission Against Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (HB 10).
Representing Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo revealed how weapons donated by developed countries to Nigeria’s neighbours enter the country illegally.
The Commodore noted that the situation was worsening the security in Africa’s biggest nation because non-state armed actions were taking possession of sophisticated arms.
On Tuesday, Navy Director of Information, Commodore Suleiman Dahun dissociated the military arm from the claim of the senior officer.
A statement by the spokesman said it was her “personal comments on the issue of transnational trafficking of small arms and light weapons.”
Dahun indicated that after presenting the position of the Navy on the Act, Malafa made “unauthorized” remarks.
“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.”
Dahun added that effective and sustained regional cooperation towards ensuring maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is the key priority of the Navy.
Malafa told the gathering that when broke, Chadian soldiers sold their guns.
“They do not have armoury. Most of the arms being donated by – I don’t want to be specific – developed countries in the name of assisting us are compounding our problems in Nigeria.
“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.
“Section 9 (1) suggests an additional function of proposing that 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.
“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 donating such arms to these countries, we should insist that they either enact laws to govern the handling of arms and ammunition or build an armoury for these countries, else we will not see peace”, Malafa warned.
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