Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
In view of the country’s security challenges, the Council of State presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, approved the establishment of a National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), revealed this when he briefed State House Correspondents on the outcome of the virtual meeting, yesterday.
The meeting attended by General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida; Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd) and Goodluck Jonathan, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, also ratified the presidential pardon granted Prof. Ambrose Alli (governor of the defunct Bendel state, 1979-1983, now Edo and Delta states), over N900,000 fraud and three other Nigerians.
Monguno said based on his recommendation, President Muhaamadu Buhari approved the establishment of the centre akin to the Counter Terrorists Centre and the Cyber-security Centre, which are both domiciled in the office of the NSA.
This centre, he said, will provide strategic framework for containing proliferation of small arms and light weapons, especially those coming from across the borders, particularly within the West Africa sub-region and through the maritime environment.
Monguno noted that the Centre, when fully operational, would work in compliance with already laid down international standards and ECOWAS moratorium on the control of small arms and light weapons.
He said a law would soon be enacted to that effect to give the needed legal backing to the centre and its activities.
Monguno announced that the president had also directed improved synergy and collaboration between the Armed Forces and other security agencies operating in the country.
According to him, President Buhari has given the go ahead for the procurement of more arms and ammunition to boost the fight against insurgency and other security challenges.
He added that the office of the NSA would now be coordinating the use of drones to patrol the vast lands where bandits and kidnappers operate.
Beside the late Prof Ali, the council also okayed the pardon of Col. Moses Effiong, Major E.J Olarenwaju (for attempted coup in the Ibrahim Babangida era) and Ajayi Olusola Babalola.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said it followed his presentation of a memo, relating to the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.
“The memo presented for consultation in line with one of the constitutional requirements and consideration of grant of pardon to 45 persons, two inmates for pardon, 39 inmates for clemency and four ex-convict for presidential pardon.
“To further clarify on the prerogative of mercy, Mr. President with COVID-19 pandemic, has directed the decongestion of our correctional centers across the country. And by way of collaborative action, the governors, heads of courts across the nations, have worked assiduously in collaboration with the presidential committee on decongestion of our correctional centers and at the end of the day we have succeeded in taking out over 4,000 inmates out of our correctional centers across the country.
“What we have today is a consolidation of what has been done and the strategies put in place to see to the decongestion of our correctional centers.
“As you are aware, more than 70 percent inmates in our correctional centers were awaiting trial across the country and a lot of considerations were put in place to ensure our correctional centers are decongested d the prerogative of mercy was one of such considerations by Mr. President.”
Malami said the the Council of State also approved the appointment of two new legal practitioners as members of Federal Judicial Service Commission.
“The two members to represent Nigerian Bar Association on the federal judicial service commission are Namoso Ekanem (SAN), from Akwa Ibom state representing the South South geo-political zone and Mammud Abubakar Mogaji (SAN) from Niger State to represent the North Central geo-political zone.”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the Council also approved the appointment of Nasiru Isa Kwarra, as chairman of National Population Commission.