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Nigerian Navy disowns “unauthorized, personal” comments by Commodore Jamila Abubakar on Chadian soldiers

The Nigerian Navy on Tuesday disowned the statement by Commodore Jamila Abubakar indicting Chadian soldiers who ‘sell arms when broke,’ saying it was “unauthorized, personal comments on the issue of trans-national trafficking of small arms and light weapons.”

Commodore Abubabar, who represented Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, at the public hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence on the consideration of four security bills, 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.

But Director of Naval Information, Commodore Suleiman Dahun, said in a statement that the Navy “categorically dissociate itself from the view of the senior officer.”

The full statement by Commodore Dahun 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.”

Specifically, Commodore Jamila Abubakar has spoken “too candidly” at the public hearing on the proliferation of small arms and weapons, saying: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Sources said that while her statements may have elements of truth, it should not be expressed at a public forum as it may be misconstrued as an attack on a friendly-country with which Nigeria is prosecuting a war against terrorism.

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