Federal Govt To Destroy Illicit Arms, Light Weapons Recovered In 18 Months - Mc Ebisco
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Federal Govt To Destroy Illicit Arms, Light Weapons Recovered In 18 Months

The federal government has said it will carry out a destruction exercise of over 3,000 recovered illicit small arms and light weapons as well as other associated materials.

The office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), through the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW), saiud the seizures were made majorly through theatre operations from the Northwest, Southsouth, Southeast and North Central regions of the country within the past 18 months.

National coordinator of NCCSALW, Major Gen Abba Muhammed Dikko (rtd), stated this in Kaduna yesterday while addressing a press conference preparatory to the exercise.

Dikko explained that the arms were handed down to the centre from security agencies who are currently on the ongoing theatre operations in furtherance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to tame the insecurity in the country.

He said, “The seizures were made from ongoing theatre operations and voluntary surrendering by non-state actors, we will continue to destroy them. We have had collections from the Northwest, Southsouth, North Central and Southeast.

“In terms of categorisation, small arms are categorised by the ammunition they can fire – from 9 mm to 100 mm in calibre. The key thing is for us to be able to mob up those weapons that are capable of destruction from non-state actors.

“We have the AK47, AK 49, AA guns and even dane guns among those we are going to destroy by tomorrow. We try to see how we can remove not only the weapon but also the ammunition”.

The national coordinator added that the Illicit arms and light weapons mostly were illegally brought into the country by criminal elements like bandits and terrorists.

“We don’t go to pick these illicit arms from criminals, it is what the security agencies have been able to recover that we collect. Some of them were actually seized while some were voluntarily surrendered because there is still ongoing voluntary submission which we have been following.

“I have not mentioned North East because there is ongoing mass surrender of weapons. Borno State government is also working in that process,” he stated.

He stressed that security challenges had become precarious due to the availability of Illicit weapons in the hands of those not licensed to handle it, adding that the commission is saddled with the responsibility of regulating the acquisition and use of light weapons in the country.

“We are also working on building a database of ownership of weapons, and the destruction exercise to ensure that they are no longer in circulation, it must be noted that the centre is not to criminalise those with capacity to manufacture weapons but to identify them and recommend them to relevant agencies for collaboration”.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is set to consider the recommendation of its committee on National Security and Intelligence for the establishment of a Centre for the coordination and control of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.

In the synopsis of the report seen by journalists, the committee chairman, Hon. Shaaban Sharada, (APC, Kano), explained the trajectory of the document titled: ‘a Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Nigerian Centre for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.

He said, “This Bill was introduced on the Floor of the House in 2019 and subsequently referred to the Committee on National Security and Intelligence Pursuant to Order 12 Rule 2 after the second Reading.

“The Committee held a Public Hearing on Monday, 27th September, 2021 in the Conference Room 231. The Hearing was declared open by the Rt. Hon. Speaker of the House of Representatives and was well attended by Members of the Committee and invited stakeholders.

“The memoranda and inputs received from the various stakeholders were subjected to further technical analysis and the Report of the committee had been laid on the floor of the House on 21st July 2022.

“It is instructive to note that ECOWAS member states consider the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to constitute a major threat to peace and stability within member states. They are deeply concerned at the flow of small arms and light weapons into West Africa and recognise the need to control arms transfers.

“They recognise the need to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacture, excessive accumulation, trafficking, detention and use of small arms and light weapons. In light of this, and recognizing the principles and obligations contained in previous agreements, member states agreed to the articles contained in Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

“This Bill, therefore, seeks to establish a National Institutional framework to implement the provisions of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons 2006,” the Synopsis reads.

Sharada in his synopsis argued that the Bill “will go a long way to promote and ensure the coordination of concrete measures for effective control of Small Arms and Light Weapon (SALW) in the country.”

According to him, “the Centre would further combat the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapon (SALW) by arm smugglers across our own porous borders into Nigeria as well as the West African Sub-region.”

The synopsis noted: “The committee recommended for the Establishment of the Centre after wide consultations with the Federal Ministry of Justice, Institute of Advanced Legal studies amongst several other stakeholders.

“The committee also wishes to state that there is an existing functional administrative structure, the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) with six zonal offices under the office of the National Security Adviser. The center is currently headed by a National Coordinator and has several staff working in its various departments and units.

“We therefore strongly recommend that the House do consider and pass the provisions of the Bill as contained in the Report of the Committee”.