DR Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations’ Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel has identified transnational crimes as constituting major threat to peace and stability of Nigeria and other countries in the region. The UN envoy who stated this at a lecture to mark the fourth anniversary of the Real News online magazine held recently in Abuja said many now engage in trafficking in drugs, arms, and small weapons; human trafficking, and precious metal as a result of desperation to make money by all means. The UN envoy said the resources derived from their criminal activities have provided these elements with the capacity to corrupt institutions and undermine the state and its law enforcement capacity. He said according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, report 18 tons of cocaine with the market value of US $2 billion are ferried through the West African region annually. Dr Chambas added: “Criminals in Nigeria have, in the recent past, started to manufacture methamphetamines and several laboratories have been seized. These are some of the most addictive drugs which can easily flood our streets. We must also think of the direct adverse impact on the health of the citizenry arising from drug addiction.” He noted with sadness that organised crime makes a mockery of “our porous borders and undermines our maritime security. They sometimes operate in the jurisdiction of the state with impunity. Corruption undermines the faith of citizens in their governments.” The UN envoy said “Our region has been the target of terrorist groups and violent extremists. They constitute the archenemies of our democracy and pluralistic society.” He continued: “In the past year, we have watched with horror attacks carried out by militant groups in Bamako, Ouagadougou and Grand Bassam. Niger continues to be a target. We are also given daily and harsh reminders about terrorism and violent extremism in the northern part of Mali. Boko Haram is considered as the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, responsible for more deaths in one year than any other terrorist group in the world.” He also noted that in the Niger Delta, new militant groups are emerging, attacking oil facilities and threatening strikes on other government targets, while the clash between farmers and herders in the Middle Belt continues. He further noted that grievances from the time of the Biafra civil war also loom large. These developments, he said, have contributed to undermining the security and development of Nigeria. Dr Chambas said in the mist of all these challenges, what has stood out most conspicuously is the determination of the Nigerian people to overcome the challenges. “We must not forget the entrepreneurial spirit and prowess of Nigerians, the innovative zeal of its youths and intellectual capacity. These are indicators of a promising nation. I remain, therefore, always hopeful that the best is yet to come.” In her speech, Publisher and Editor- in-Chief of Realnews magazine, Ms Maureen Chigbo, said the anniversary lecture is one of the ways Realnews “is contributing to the development of our nation by providing a forum for professionals, scholars and prominent Nigerians to discuss and proffer ideas to resolve burning national issues. She said the theme for this year’s lecture “Security and National Development in a Plural Democratic Society” was based on the recurring internal security crisis that has been one of the major challenges that has plagued the Nigerian state in its quest for nationhood. She noted that in the last 100 years, the country witnessed violent internal security crisis which predates its independence in 1960 including Tiv riots and Aba women riots of 1929. The latest security threats manifest in the form of Boko Haram insurgency, separatist Independent People of Biafra, Niger Delta militancy under various names and the farmers/ herdsmen brouhaha and other sundry criminalities. Chigbo said as Nigeria seeks its place in a modern interconnected global community, it is clear that security is one of the major challenges facing it as was predicted that it could disintegrate in 2015, thank God it is still standing. She said although this has failed to happen, the social dynamics that could make the prediction come true are still very much with us.” With this in mind, one can see that security is one of the factors to focus on in our dream for nationhood,” she said
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