AS many as 350m illegal arms are now available across Nigeria according to senate majority leader Senator Yahaya Abdullahi who revealed that about 70% of all the illicit weapons in the West African sub-region are now in the country.
He revealed this yesterday while commenting on the report of the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management organised by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Senator Abdullahi made the revelation as the senate blamed the high level of violence, insecurity with consistent cases of armed banditry and kidnapping across the country, on the proliferation of weapons.
According to the senate, small arms and light weapons are readily available and quite easy to use, pointing out that against this backdrop, they had become the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society. Senators said that these weapons were in the hands of irregular troops operating with lack of respect for international and humanitarian law.
These weapons they have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80% of the casualties. Consequently, the upper chamber has considered a critical bill seeking to tackle the illicit importation and trade of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
In Wednesday, a Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons bill scaled through the second reading in the senate. Senator Abdullahi sponsored the bill, which after consideration, was referred to the Senate Committee on Defence for further legislative work.
Senator Abdullahi said that the piece of legislation, among other things, seeks to identify sources and main routes of small arms, ammunition and light weapons. It will also establish links of liaising with relevant authorities, agencies and organisations with the aim of tackling the menace.
In addition, the bill will aim to train and build the capacity security corps towards and enforcement of this mandate. According to Senator Abdullahi, when passed into law, the bill will enhance harmonisation of intelligence and information collection, analysis and dissemination among the intelligence organs and law enforcement agencies.
Senator Abdullahi said: “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 hands 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% of the casualties. In Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge as 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 fuelled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the southeast, an armed robbery pandemic in the southwest, ethnic-religious violence on the plateau, and Boko Haram terrorist operations in the northeast, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity.”