The federal government yesterday destroyed over 3,000 seized small arms and light weapons.
The Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) destroyed the weapons at the Command Engineering Depot in Kaduna.
Speaking at the event, National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), said the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) constitutes a huge threat to our national security.
Mobguno who was represented by the director of Policy and Strategy, Ambassador A.A. Lawal said the government recognises the complexity of the challenge of controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria and the requirement for concerted action between the government, international community and all well-meaning civil society organisations (CSOs).
According to him, the government has resolved to galvanise strengths and unity as a nation to confront the monstrous challenge.
Expressing optimism that it will be overcome, the NSA said, “There is no gainsaying the fact that the proliferation of SALW constitutes a huge threat to our national security. It has become a major source of vulnerability in our society and stands out as a key driver of violent conflict, crime and terrorism within and beyond our borders.
“The failure of the global community to control the availability of illicit SALW, I dare say, has continued to undermine global peace and significantly hinder development especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The establishment of the Centre in 2021 by Mr President was a historic step towards addressing the problem of small arms proliferation through an institutional platform that would structurally address all underlying contributors to this national security threat within the framework of the various international protocols and instruments to which Nigeria is committed.
“This action was also a demonstration of Nigeria’s commitment to the provisions of Article 24 of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW which requires all member states to establish national commissions to promote a multilateral approach to stamping out unregulated or uncontrolled circulation of SALW in the Sub-region”.
Monguno further expressed confidence that by the destruction exercise, a robust framework has been established for effective grassroots impact in the quest for a whole-of-society effort to eradicate illicit weapons.
He added: “This weapons destruction exercise today gives a practical expression to the months of hard work and sustained engagements with key stakeholders since the establishment of the NCCSALW.
“Government is working assiduously and engaging the NASS to ensure the expeditious passage of the Bill establishing the Centre. This will provide the required legal framework to support a more robust discharge of the Centre’s mandate. Government is also taking firm steps through relevant Ministries and Government Agencies to tighten domestic controls to prevent and reduce the flow of SALW into illegal hands who are working to undermine our security.”
He further said the event was a reminder to all Nigerians of their collective responsibility to support the security agencies, and by extension, the government in the fight to defeat criminality, terrorism, banditry and all forms of behaviours that threaten the national wellbeing.
“It is a clarion call to reclaim our security space and restore our nation to the path of peace, security and development. We as patriotic citizens must stand up to be counted at this time by providing information to the security agencies and we must trust the Government to bring the state’s authority to bear in ensuring that all Nigerians, wherever they may reside, enjoy the peace and security that they truly deserve”, he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the national coordinator of Nl, Major General Abbah Mohammed Dikko (rtd), said the NCCSALW was established in May 2021 as part of wider national response to the escalating menace of the proliferation of illicit SALW in Nigeria and the sub-region.
He stressed that the proliferation of SALW had been the bane of Nigeria’s national and regional peace and security in the last 3’three decades and has caused great distress to our socio-economic wellbeing and overall development.
“It has therefore remained central to all security challenges that face Nigeria today including terrorism, ethno-religious conflicts, violent separatism and sundry organized criminal activities within and across our borders.Given the myriads of security challenges that Nigeria has grappled with in the last 15 years, the establishment of the NCCSALW in 2021 could not have come at a more auspicious time.
“Ever since, the Centre has been on a stated mission to prevent and control the proliferation of SALW in collaboration with stakeholders towards strengthening peace and security in Nigeria.
“In this pursuit, the Centre has kept in focus its overarching vision of promoting an illicit arms-free society in line with Nigeria’s national security objectives.In furtherance of its objectives, the Centre recognizes the indispensable roles of the Civil Society, governmental institutions, the diplomatic community as well as development partners and has in this wise continued to expand its scope of engagement with these stakeholders in order to achieve our shared vision of ridding our society of illicit SALW”, he stated.
He noted that the exercise highlights the dangers of excess, poorly secured, and illegal weapons as well as the importance of small arms destruction as a vital measure to reduce the proliferation and misuse of firearms.
He continued: “It also underscores the Nigerian Government’s commitment to transparent documentation and destruction of captured, surrendered and recovered illicit firearms. This is in line with the provisions of Article 17 of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in SALW.
“The centre will continue to push in this direction and to generate ingenious strategies to reduce, if not completely eradicate, the availability of illicit arms in our society. Rest assured that the Centre has followed the due process in line with international best practices to conduct this destruction exercise”.
Those who witnessed the exercise include Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai who was represented by the commissioner for Internal Security and home affairs, Samuel Aruwan; the Emir of Birnin Gwari, Alhaji Zubairu Jibril Mai Gwari 11, the and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) who was represented by the GOC 1 Division Nigeria Army Headquarters, Major General Tuwaheed Lagbaja.