As part of measures to stave off a possible terrorist resort to the use of chemical and biological weapons, the Federal Government is working with the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to halt the proliferation of such weapons.
This, the government hopes to achieve, by ensuring stricter control of the purchase and use of the weapons. Permanent Secretary, Political Affairs, in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Olukunle Bamgbose, announced at the opening of a five-day National Workshop on Assistance and Protection Against Chemical Weapons in Abuja yesterday.
The workshop, which was organized in collaboration with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, seeks to strengthen the understanding of actors in handling issues relating to chemical and biological weapons. Olukunle, who is also the Chairman, National Authority on Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention, said the collaboration with ECOWAS would deepen import controls within the sub-region.
He said: “The chemical weapons imported into the country are used for the purposes for which they are meant and government also makes sure that these chemicals do not get into the hands of non-state actors like Boko Haram or the Niger Delta Avengers.”
“There are many companies in Nigeria that make use of these chemical weapons and, of course, their importation is also being controlled by NAFDAC and that is why NAFDAC and the security agencies are here to make sure that these chemicals which have multiple uses don’t get into the hands of non-state actors in Nigeria.
If not well-managed, if it gets into the wrong hands, it would have great repercussions,” he stated. He expressed optimism that the workshop would improve the relationship between Nigeria and its allies, while also assisting participants to discharge their mandates effectively.
On its part, Head of ECOWAS Political Affairs Office, Mrs Halima Ameh, said the workshop was aimed at promoting chemical awareness and safety in the sub-region and “to support our member-states in responding to threats of use of chemical and biological weapons.
“It is our desire that at the end of the project, our members should be able to provide assistance and protection to their citizens and where possible to other member-states in the sub-region.” Ameh added that ECOWAS Commission was committed to assisting member-states in eliminating the threats posed by chemical and biological weapons.