TERRORISM: Nigeria Warns Against Use Of Micro-Organisms

Director-General of National Biosafety Development Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba

The government in Nigeria has warned against the use of micro-organisms as it fears they could fall into the hands of terrorists aiming to cause bioterrorism, mayhem and havoc in the country.

The Director-General/CEO of the National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, gave the stern warning while addressing newsmen in Abuja.

He said micro-organisms can be used by terrorists to cause sickness, death in the country.

The NBMA DG gave an insight of a micro-organism like anthrax, a bacteria he said when obtained by terrorists can cause damage to human health amongst other micro-organisms.

“Anthrax, some years ago was posted as a means of causing harm in the United States.

“This bacteria can be engineered, or collected or any other micro-organisms that are harmful, can be collected if the terrorists know where they are stored, use them and expose them to the environment.

“When they are released to the environment, there is a tendency it will affect the population and when it affects the populace, they become sick. It is part of terrorism.

“In the nearest future you will discover in the military circle the likelihood of using micro-organisms for military warfare.

“That’s why when we were developing the National Biosecurity Policy, we made sure all the defence bodies were all involved to know what to do to prevent people having access to harmful biological agents to maliciously use them to cause harm.

“Micro-organisms can be used for terrorism. We are looking ahead to know what to do when they begin to manifest.”

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Ebegba disclosed that plans are ongoing to stem the tide of malaria parasitic infections which is caused by the female Anopheles mosquito, adding that the Agency will not rest on its oars in ensuring proper research is carried out on Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, that can be used to curtail the infections, before being released for use.

He maintained that alternative means of controlling malaria like the integrated vector control management program, is on course by some institutions in Nigeria.

“In a country like Colombia, genetically modified mosquitoes have been released to combat Dengue fever.

“The integrated vector control management program, is a program under the African Union Development Agency; the purpose is to develop alternative means of controlling malaria.

“The various research that are ongoing currently, they are looking at the mosquito that causes malaria, which is the female Anopheles mosquito.

“So the test basically, is to gradually reduce the population of the female mosquito.

“Another aspect of it is called gene drive, this is when the male mates the female and renders it sterile, they are various aspects of it.

“The research is going on right now in Burkina Faso, Mali and there are some institutions in Nigeria that have also applied.

“The role of the NBMA is to ensure that these genetically modified organisms do not cause harm to human health and the environment.

“We have not said we are going to release genetically modified organisms but plans are ongoing for them to be made.

“And when they are made by researchers our responsibility is to ensure they are safe before they are released to solve the malaria problem.”

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