The Federal Government has indicted some top fertiliser companies in Nigeria of sabotaging national security and economy by being a conduit through which the insurgents, especially the Boko Haram terrorists and Niger Delta militants, obtain explosive materials wrecking havoc across the country.
This is coming as the Nigerian security and intelligence agencies have made a major breakthrough in tracking the source of explosives used by the Niger Delta militants to blow up the oil pipelines and facilities with the arrest of several suspects, including five security personnels.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno, made the revelation when he met with the representatives of local manufacturers of fertilisers.
Monguno warned that the Federal Government would no longer tolerate a situation whereby the security and economy of the country was being threatened by “unpatriotic actions of the fertiliser companies,’’ threatening to close them should the seemingly acts of sabotage continue.
The security chief also read the riot act to any company or individual engaged in economic, business or commercial activities linked to the dissident groups operating within and outside the country.
He said: “I must say at this point that the goodwill shown by the government of this country will not be taken for granted. The fact that we are in difficult and complicated situation, in terms of our economy and security, does not mean that companies and individuals with vested interest will take the goodwill of this country for granted.
“The president came to power with specific mandate which is clear to all Nigerians, and, indeed, the international community. We will view with very serious consequences whatever any company does to fall out of line and behave in a manner that will bring to its knee the economy of this country and, indeed, the security of this country.”
“ Like I said, we will not hesitate to take action with immediate effect. It is also important for us to also know that the local farmers are suffering in all communities all over the country,” he stressed.
Monguno said ONSA and “the whole intelligence community discovered that the Improvised Explosive Devices (EIDs) being employed by the terrorists for their bombing campaigns were developed mainly from certain grades of fertilisers with particular reference to some nitrate-based types, including Urea Nitrate (synthesised from Urea).”
He said it was the discovery that the indiscriminate importation of these urea nitrate by all and sundry resulting into lack of control and the ease of their availability to the terrorists, militants and other mischievous elements for use to perpetuate insecurity that necessitated Federal Government to license only the two companies to operate in the country.
He also noted that ONSA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development facilitated necessary importation of raw materials and also secured distribution networks, which was “aimed at solving the national security problem on one hand by easing control of the items and on the other hand, boosting economy by encouraging local production.”
Against this backdrop, the NSA said the cumulative annual production of the two companies was estimated at 2.05 million metric tonnes, while Nigeria’s estimated consumption rate was 1.1 million metric tonnes, which was 53 per cent of production and “opportunity to cumulatively export about 47 per cent of their production.”
Monguno, however, noted that ONSA “has observed with total dismay some unpatriotic acts and abuse of the goodwill of government,” saying “reports of activities of these companies have indicated that about 71 per cent of the 2.05 million tonnes cumulative annual production is being exported to the detriment of our national economy.”
According to him, this had resulted in a spike in the price of urea-based fertilisers in Nigeria, with obvious implications on food security in the country.
“In view of the foregoing, I wish to categorically state that government will continue to adhere to the rule of law. However, it must be noted that rule of law is not akin to anarchy. Accordingly, this office will not hesitate to close and withdraw the operating license of any company that exports products without first meeting local consumptions.
“This office and the Ministry (of Agriculture) will work to put in place measures to access production and determine exportable quantity by the respective companies. Please note that the well-being of this country is a collective responsibility of all,” he said.
In a related development, Monguno disclosed that ONSA conducted investigation into the incessant bombing of oil facilities in the Niger Delta and discovered that commercial explosives and accessories were used for the attacks.
He said the resultant investigation and detailed audit of the records of explosives magazines and quarries in the region revealed “the diversion of about 9000kg of high explosives and 16, 420 pieces of detonators for illegal use.”
He revealed that “the actors, including the store man of a major explosives distribution company in Nigeria, an accomplice and five security operatives, have been arrested and handed over to the appropriate authorities.”
“Right now, investigations are being conducted and I can assure you that they are deeply culpable and necessary action will be taken on the conclusion of these investigations,” he remarked.
The NSA, however, assured that the administration was committed to the well-being, safety and security of the Nigerian citizenry and urged members of the public and business community to do their business in accordance with laid down rules of law.
“Let me also reiterate that any individual or company that operates outside the confines of legitimacy or legality will have itself to blame and we also want to add that the government of the day will not listen to any influence peddler in the society on behalf of any company that decides to sabotage national security,” he warned.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has ordered the immediate sealing off of Messrs Nigerian Development and Construction Company (NDCC), an importer and seller of explosives in Koko, Delta State, over illegal diversion of explosives.
According to a release signed by the Special Assitant to the Minister on Media, Olayinka Oyebode, this was in addition to the blacklisting of the company and withdrawal of its explosive licences.
The development is sequel to investigations by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), which revealed that the company was involved in illegal diversion of about 9,000 kg of Nitro-glycerine explosives and 16,420 pieces of electrical detonators from its magazines between 2015 and 2016.
The minister warned all manufacturers, importers, sellers and end users of explosives in the country to desist from unprofessional sale, procurement, storage and use of explosives, in line with the provisions of the Explosives Act of 1964, the Explosives Regulations of 1967 and other extant policy directives.