National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Mongonu (rtd) on Thursday disclosed that explosives experts dispatched to conduct investigations into the incessant bombing attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria have uncovered the diversion of about 9, 000kg of high explosives and 16, 420 pieces of detonators for illegal use.
Mongonu made the startling revelation at a meeting with local manufacturers of fertilizers just as he read the riot act to two fertilizer companies, Notore Petrochemical and Indorama Eleme Petrochemical companies for allegedly shortchanging Nigerians by causing Fertilizer shortages, through the illegal exportation of the product outside the country.
Throwing more light on the explosives and detonators in Abuja, a visibly worried NSA said, “The major actors, including the store man of a major explosives distribution company in Nigeria, an accomplice and five (5) security operatives have been arrested and handed over to appropriate authorities”.
“Right now, investigations are being conducted and I can assure you that they are deeply culpable and necessary actions will be taken on conclusion of investigation.
“Let me also reiterate that any individual or company that operates outside the confines of legitimacy or illegality will have itself to blame. We also want to add that the government of the day will not want to listen to any influence peddler in the society on behalf of any company that decides to sabotage National Security”.
On the fertilizer scam, the NSA said, “Nigerians should recall the discovery that improvised explosive devices (IED) being employed by terrorists for their bombing campaigns were developed mainly from certain grades of fertilizers with particular reference to some nitrate based types including Urea Nitrate (synthesized from Urea).
“Accordingly, it was discovered that the indiscriminate importation of these items by all and sundry resulted into lack of control and it eased their availability to mischievous elements for use to perpetrate insecurity. This indiscriminate importation further reduced the prospects for the local manufacture of these materials and by extension, the loss of foreign exchange to avoidable imports. This ultimately culminated into the ban on importation of fertilizers to the country”.
“In keeping with the commitment of the federal government to boosting national economy, Notore Petrochemical and Indorama Eleme Petrochemical were licensed as the sole manufacturers of Urea blend of fertilizers in Nigeria. Furthermore, the office of the NSA in collaboration with federal ministry of agriculture and rural development facilitated necessary importation of raw materials and also secured distribution networks’.
“This move 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”.
“The cumulative annual production of the two companies is estimated at 2. 05 million metric tonnes, while Nigeria’s estimated consumption rate is 1.1million metric tonnes, which is 53 per cent of production. Accordingly, the companies have the opportunity to cumulatively export about 47 per cent of their production”.
“However, this office has observed with total dismay some unpatriotic act and abuse of goodwill of government. Reports of activities of these companies have indicated that about 71 per cent of the 2. 05 million metric tonnes cumulative annual production is being exported to the detriment of our national economy. This has resulted in a spike in the price of urea-based fertilizers in Nigeria with obvious implications on food security in the country”.
“In view of the forgoing, I wish to categorically state that government will continue to adhere to the rule of law. However, it must be noted that the rule of law is not akin to anarchy”.
“Accordingly, this office (ONSA) will not hesitate to close and withdraw the operating license of any company that exports products without first meeting local consumption. This office and the ministry will work to put in place, measures to access production and determine exportable quantity by the respective companies”.
Continuing, General Mongonu said, “I must say at this point that the goodwill showed by the government of this country should not be taken for granted. The fact that we are in a difficult time and complicated situation in 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 (Buhari) came to power with specific mandate which is clear to all Nigerians and indeed the international community. We will view with very serious consequences, any company that falls 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”.
“We will not hesitate act and it is an action that will be taken with immediate effect. It is important to for us to also know that all farmers are suffering in all the communities throughout the country” he concluded.
Among those present at the meeting was the minister of state for Agriculture, Senator Hieneken Lokpobiri, Mr. Appolo Goma, Chief Operating Officer, Indorama Petrochemical Company and Mr. Oscar Okpe of Notoro Petrochemical Company.