U.S. condemns Plateau attacks, warns on illicit arms ahead of 2019 polls

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The Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States (U.S.) Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. David Young, has condemned the June 24, 2018 attacks in Plateau State that killed over 200 people, urging security agencies to prevent a recurrence.

Mr. Young who visited scenes of the attacks and later the state governor, Simon Lalong, expressed concern by the U.S. that the violence could precipitate reprisals, leading to an orgy of bloodletting.

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“It is very essential to address the issue of impunity. The law enforcement agencies will have to react very quickly to get to the scene to prevent an escalation or even more horrific violence from happening. It is important for law enforcers to be well trained. They have to be well paid and they have to be ready to respond to emergencies,” he said.

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According to him, peace building and dialogue must take place at all levels of society because it is unhealthy for Christians to live in one area while Muslims live in another. ‘‘That kind of segregation creates suspicion. This leads to prejudice and hate speech. I think it is important for people to make human interactions and human connections as part of peace building.”

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During a question and answer session, Young said the U.S. government has spent about $200 million to provide humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Borno and neighbouring states.

He regretted the proliferation of arms, which he described as a huge problem the Nigerian government must address urgently, “because ultimately that is what fuels the violence.”

On the 2019 general elections, he said: “The possibility of escalation of violence is there because of the escalation of hate speech.”

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Meanwhile, the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) at a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja yesterday, highlighted the need to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials in the country.

The agency’s Director General, Prof. Lawrence Dim, said the government has already stepped up surveillance across the country to prevent the wrong use of such materials.

NNRA would be working with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other key international bodies to search for radioactive materials and secure them, he said.

According to him, “Not so many people are familiar with what radiation is. But we go round the country to try to pick it. We have a programme in NNRA where we try to get the sources of the radiation.”

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He noted that the aim of the meeting was to create synergy among government agencies responsible for nuclear security.

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He said the authority has been doing oversight of radiological facilities in Nigeria and has been advising the Federal Government on nuclear security matters.

A nuclear physicist, who is also the chairman of the meeting, Prof. Sunday Thomas, however, maintained that the nuclear sector is the most regulated in Nigeria and people do not have to be afraid, as efforts are made to avoid a nuclear accident.

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