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NSA, Ribadu, worried over illegal arms market in northern Nigeria



The National Security Adviser to the President, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Thursday, said the administration of President Bola Tinubu is making appreciable progress in the fight against banditry and terrorism in the country.

Ribadu, however, expressed concern about what he described as the booming illegal firearms market in the North.

He also decried the high level of poverty in northern Nigeria, saying the North-West was worst hit.

Ribadu expressed these concerns while speaking at the convocation lecture of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, in a paper titled, ‘Navigating the Maze: Addressing Multi-Dimensional Insecurity Challenges in Northern Nigeria.’

“The illegal arms market in northern Nigeria has seen a marked increase in demand and supply.

“Criminals and traffickers have developed sophisticated networks to transport illegal arms across Nigeria, deploying innovative methods to circumvent security checks,” the NSA said.

Speaking on the progress being made by President Bola Tinubu, Ribadu said: “Since assuming office, we have successfully freed over a thousand individuals, many of whom were villagers held captive for as long as two to three years.

“We have successfully secured the release of abducted students from the Federal University of Gusau and school children in Kuriga, among others.

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“These results were achieved without paying any ransom. Our approach utilises evidence as the foundation of our non-kinetic strategies.

“On the kinetic front, the Nigerian military is conducting numerous operations targeting insurgent groups like Boko Haram and bandits operating in northern Nigeria,” he added.

He described the President’s job as difficult but he was determined to turn the country’s situation around.

“This role is not a tea party; it is a demanding job that requires dexterity, hard work, and consensus building across security and political structures.

“The figures we encountered in terms of both attacks and casualties in May 2023 were heartwrenching. As recently as 2022, Nigeria witnessed four major terrorism attacks: the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, an attack on the Guards Battalion in Abuja, the Kuje Prison attack and another at a church in Owo, Ondo State,” the NSA said.

On poverty in the North, Ribadu said: “According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the North-West Nigeria contains some of the poorest states in the country.

“As of 2019, each northwestern state has a higher poverty rate than the national average of 40.1 per cent, with Sokoto having the highest rate in the country: 87.73 per cent of the state’s population live in poverty.

“The reports also illustrate that unemployment rates in the northern regions can exceed 20 per cent, a stark contrast to the more industrially-diverse and economically-vibrant southern regions, where unemployment rates hover around 10-15 per cent.”

He, however, said the Tinubu-led administration was working hard to change the poverty narrative.

“This agenda includes provisions for bolstering security initiatives, promoting socioeconomic development, and fostering inter-communal dialogue to address grievances and foster reconciliation.

“Through the Renewed Hope Agenda, the government aims to tackle the underlying causes of insecurity by addressing issues such as poverty, unemployment, social marginalisation and ethnic tensions,” he said.

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