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Reps panel: We’ve put mechanisms in place to address rising insecurity

house of representatives house of representatives
The house of representatives

The house of representatives committee on national security and intelligence says it has taken steps to address the security challenges in the country.

Satomi Ahmed, chairman of the committee, spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at a workshop on ‘Enhancing effective legislative oversight of the national security and intelligence sector in Nigeria’, organised for members of the panel.

Ahmed said the committee will hold quarterly meetings with security agencies as part of efforts to tame the escalating insecurity in the country.

“I am glad that this committee has begun to address the security challenges confronting every part of the country as they arise,” Ahmed said.

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“In the coming days, the committee pursuant to its mandate of oversighting all matters relating to any organisation or agency established by law for ensuring the security of the federation, will be inviting all security, intelligence, law enforcement, paramilitary agencies, etc. to a security roundtable to discuss the general state of affairs of the security and intelligence sectors in Nigeria with a view to recommending practical solutions, among other objectives. This interface will hold at least once a quarter.”

The lawmaker said the country’s security challenges are not insurmountable, noting that the house of representatives through the committee, has “put mechanisms in place to confront these criminalities frontally and decimate them for the peace and stability of this great country”.

“We have already begun engagements with all security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies on these challenges,” he said.

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“Some of the feedback we received from the agencies is currently being analysed and will form the basis of the security roundtable, which we plan to hold soon.”

Ahmed expressed appreciation to security agencies for their willingness to collaborate and support the committee to work together to address the issues confronting the country.

Ahmed said the workshop is aimed at enhancing the competency or capacity of members of the committee to carry out effective and efficient oversight as required.

“Some of the critical areas to be discussed during this summit include combating organised crimes, small arms and light weapons proliferation, cyber security, terrorism financing, and its implication for national security,” he said.

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Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house of representatives, said lawmakers need constant workshops to be versed in the legislative process.

Abbas, who was represented by Ibrahim Halims, the deputy majority leader of the house, said the workshop “provides one of the platforms for equipping members of this committee with the necessary competencies and skills essential for fulfilling their oversight mandate effectively”.

“Of course, to effectively carry out this responsibility, members of our legislative bodies require a high level of technical competence and knowledge in national security and intelligence governance and oversight,” Abbas said.

“To enhance effective legislative oversight of the national security and intelligence sector, we must first understand its complexities.

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“This deficiency in technical expertise is not unique to Nigeria but is a prevalent issue faced by legislative bodies worldwide.

“Therefore, it is imperative that we take concrete steps to address this issue.”

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Abbas advocated for specialised training programmes for legislators and staff on national security and intelligence matters.

He also suggested that the national assembly staff should receive regular training on various aspects of national security and intelligence governance and oversight, which includes workshops, seminars, conferences, or attachments to relevant agencies or institutions.

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“Such training will provide members with practical experience in handling sensitive information, analyzing data, and engaging with experts in various fields,” Abbas said.

“Investing in training programmes, workshops, and knowledge-sharing sessions can equip legislators with the skills and expertise needed to effectively oversee the national security and intelligence sector. It would enable them to ask informed questions during oversight hearings and make more informed decisions regarding national security policies.

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“Another solution could be to engage external experts or consultants with expertise in national security and intelligence matters to provide guidance during oversight hearings.

“This approach has been adopted by some parliaments around the world with great success.

“bFor instance, the United States Congress regularly invites experts from think tanks, academia, and government agencies to testify during hearings on national security issues.”

Abbas said equipping legislators with modern technology can significantly enhance their ability to carry out effective oversight.

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