The United States government has donated five new mobile radiation detection systems valued at over $2 million to the Nigeria Police Force.
At the official hand-over of the equipment in Lagos Friday, Jon Dvorak, Assistant Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Consulate, said the equipment would help the police combat the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive material into and within Nigeria.
“The smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials is a significant national security concern, not only for the United States but for every country,” said Mr Dvorak.
Forty police officers – 30 operators and 10 in maintenance – participated in a two-week training on using the equipment and received their certificates of participation on Friday.
Mr Dvorak said the officers would have the responsibility of maintaining the equipment and keeping them running.
The police officers demonstrated how the equipment works: cars were driven past the radiation-detection van and the one bearing radioactive material set off the van’s alarm.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence aims to build global capacity to detect, disrupt, and investigate the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive material before it can be used by terrorists.
Zannah Shettima, Commissioner of Police, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, said the training is part of the police’s initiatives at ensuring that the officers are abreast of technological innovations in the detection of radioactive and nuclear material.
“This would further boost and develop our capacity in combating terrorism through the operations of mobile detection systems as well as being able to basically maintain the equipment for effective service delivery to detect illicit trafficked materials and respond to nuclear or radiological emergencies.”
Mr Shettima noted that the EOD-CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) International Training School at Maiduguri, Borno State, is near completion and solicited the U.S. government’s assistance in terms of equipment or training.
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