Security agencies set to crack down on NATFORCE for issuing fake appointment letters, Others

Security agencies are set to carry out a major crackdown on an illegal security outfit, National Taskforce on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition, Light Weapons, Chemical Weapons and Pipeline Vandalism, for defying Federal Government’s ban on its operations throughout the country.

The illegal security outfit, well-known as NATFORCE, it was gathered, incurred the wrath of the security agencies for disregarding the order of the Federal Government banning it from operating in any part of the country.

But NATFORCE, it was gathered, has become emboldened in its illegal activities by luring some influential Nigerians, particularly some retired military personnel, ex-senior police officers and some members of the National Assembly with employment promises for their preferred candidates and people in their constituencies.

NATFORCE, it was also learnt, have issued 18,000 fake appointment letters for employment in the illegal security outfit after allegedly collecting various sums of money ranging from N6000 to N35,000 from each of them. A copy of the NATFORCE’s fake appointment letter sighted by our correspondent was signed by one Dr Baba Mohammed identified as its Director General.

In June 2021, FG had declared NATFORCE an illegal security outfit and directed it and other similar groups to immediately end their operations nationwide.

The Federal Government legally constituted National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser, our investigations revealed, is the only national coordination mechanism for the control and monitoring of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria. The eight-member body has Major-General A. M Dikko (rtd) as its Coordinator and eight other Directors drawn from the major security agencies in the country. A Bill sponsored by the ONSA for its transformation from a Centre to a full-fledged Commission is already being considered for passage by the National Assembly.

Investigations also revealed that the continued illegal activities of NATFORCE have led to a situation where Nigerians are now mistaking FG’s NCCSALW for the prohibited body.

It was learnt that NATFORCE’s illegal activities have been undermining NCCSALW’s operations and left the Centre with the challenge of extricating itself from dubious conducts of a security outfit already banned by Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Following this development and the reports that reached President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency launched a fresh investigation into the activities of the prohibited NATFORCE and discovered that the illegal security outfit is still operating and has been parading itself as an agency of the Federal Government in defiance of its earlier order banning it throughout the country.

Our investigations further revealed that the Presidency has now put machinery in place to implement the recommendations contained in the ONSA report on NATFORCE’s illegal activities. 

The ONSA report, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, accused NATFORCE, which it describes as “an unincorporated organisation” of “pushing to crystallize into a Para-military Government Law Enforcement Agency,” adding that it also engages “in various forms of illegal activities including; mounting road blocks, conducting illegal searches and seizures, extortion of innocent members of the public. 

“They also deceive members of the public through purported recruitment even when the organisation is not a legal entity.”

The report states that in addition to the various infractions allegedly committed by NATFORCE, the banned illegal security outfit had been making frantic and surreptitious attempts to emerge as an agency of the Federal Government.

The report also listed several court judgments that declared NATFORCE an illegal body and nullified its continued existence, adding, “The judgment of the Court of Appeal put an end to the numerous suits filed by NATFORCE against the State Security Service (SSS).  Unfortunately, NATFORCE continued to exist illegally and has not abated in deceiving members of the public that their activities are recognized by law and usually citing the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja. This is even more uncharitable considering the fact that the Court of Appeal exhaustively reflected the true position of the Federal High Court Judgment.”

The ONSA report further underscores NATFORCE’s illegality, stating, “It is instructive to state that the Executive Bill which seeks to provide a legal framework for NCCSALW, has legally put an end to the activities of the illegal outfit, NATFORCE. Also, the issues canvassed by NATFORCE in the suit at the Federal High Court (FHC) Abuja challenging the powers of the Minister of Finance to disband the group has been put to rest by the FHC in Ilorin. 

“In a Suit filed by NATFORCE against SSS, the group asked the Court to stop the SSS from disrupting its activities on the basis of the decision of Federal High Court Abuja. However, the Court presided over by A.O. FAJI (Justice) on 3rd June, 2014 dismissed the suit on the basis that the gamut of the judgement of CHUKWU (Justice) was the Letter from the Minister of Finance disbanding NATFORCE not on its legality. The decision of the High Court was also upheld by the Court of Appeal.

“It should be noted that the promoters of NATFORCE, in spite of the verdict of Court of Appeal have continued to rely on the decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja, misrepresenting facts to members of the public. It is moreover worrisome that some politicians, particularly members of the National Assembly have allowed themselves to be cajoled by the recalcitrant proponents of NATFORCE.”

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