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26 November 2020

Senate moves against illicit arms trade

The Nigerian Senate is considering a critical bill seeking to tackle the illicit importation and trade of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.

Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC – Kebbi North) sponsored the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons bill on Wednesday.

It was learnt that the bill has scaled through second reading during plenary.

According to him, the piece of legislation among other things seeks to: identify sources and main routes of small arms, ammunition and light weapons; establish links of liaising with relevant authorities, agencies and organizations with the aim of tackling the menace; and train and build the capacity of the corps towards and enforcement of this mandate.

Yahaya added that when passed into law, the bill would put in place machinery such as the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to combat illegal importation of arms; and enhance harmonization of intelligence and information collection, analysis and dissemination among the Intelligence organs and law enforcement agencies.

He recalled that the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) organized in 2019 in Abuja by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), revealed that Nigeria hosts 350 million or 70 percent of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa.

“Small Arms and Light Weapons are readily available, easy to use and have been the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society.

“These Weapons of Terror are in the hand of irregular troops operating with scant respect for international and humanitarian law, they have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80 percent of the casualties.

“In Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge. There is general insecurity as most parts of the country experience high-level crimes perpetrated using illicit arms.

“The UN estimated that of the most substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria.

”This has fueled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East, Armed robbery pandemic in the South West, Ethnic-Religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram terrorist operations in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity,” the Senate Leader said.

After consideration, the bill was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Senate Committee on Defence for further legislative work.

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