‘Nige­ria ac­counts for 70% of 500m small arms in W/Africa’

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Oz­ibo Oz­ibo

A bill to reg­u­late small arms and light weapons in Nige­ria yes­ter­day passed sec­ond read­ing in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Co-spon­sor of the bill, Nnenna Ukeje (PDP, Abia) said the bill be­came nec­es­sary as Nige­ria presently ac­counts for 70 per cent of over 500 mil­lion small arms and light weapons in cir­cu­la­tion in West Africa.

The bill Tagged; “Na­tional Com­mis­sion against the Pro­lif­er­a­tion of Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill, 2017,” was spon­sored by Ukeje and Speaker Yakubu Dog­ara.

“The bill is borne out of the de­sire to do­mes­ti­cate ECOWAS Treaty and UN’s Pro­gramme of Ac­tion on small arms and light weapons.

“The bill in­tends to ad­dress not only the se­cu­rity is­sues but also hu­man rights is­sues since it is said that small arms and light weapons have killed more peo­ple than weapons of mass de­struc­tion,” Ukeje added.

She said, “In a re­cent meet­ing, the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor, United Na­tions Cen­tre for Peace and Dis­ar­ma­ment, Mrs Okubo Ige, said West Africa had about 500 mil­lion small arms in cir­cu­la­tion and that 70 per cent of those arms, about 350 mil­lion, re­side in Nige­ria. Re­spon­si­ble for this, she said, were ob­so­lete laws and in­ef­fec­tive stock­pile man­age­ment.”


Sources of small arms and weapons

Ac­cord­ing to Ukeje, Nige­ria is to­day des­ig­nated as a coun­try of ori­gin, tran­sit and des­ti­na­tion of small arms and light weapons.

She quoted Army spokesper­son, Col. Sa­gir as say­ing there were over 250 il­le­gal routes - mostly foot­paths from Da­maturu/Maiduguri axis to Cameroon and Chad - where Libyan and Malian rebels ex­change money for arms.

In­cluded in the arms pro­lif­er­a­tion routes, ac­cord­ing to the Army chief, are Nige­ria’s por­ous bor­ders west of Idiroko and Seme, which fuel the transna­tional black mar­ket arms trade.

She said re­cently, the ComptrollerGen­eral of the Nige­rian Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice alerted the na­tion to the ex­is­tence of over “1,400 un­manned il­le­gal en­try points across Nige­ria.”

But the Min­is­ter of In­te­rior, Ab­dul­rah­man Dam­baz­zau, said the fig­ure is over “1,500 un­manned, un­pro­tected leaky routes for arms and am­mu­ni­tion, mostly un­known by se­cu­rity agen­cies,” she stated.

She ob­served that while stolen crude is ex­changed for arms in the Gulf of Guinea bor­der­ing the Niger Delta, over 60 per cent small arms are be­ing lo­cally pro­duced in the South­east.

“Be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber, 2017, the Nige­rian Cus­toms Ser­vice in­ter­cepted 2,671 pro­lif­er­ated arms: 661 pump ac­tion rif­fles; 440 arms and am­mu­ni­tion from Turkey; and 1,100 mil­i­tary grade am­mu­ni­tions in a Rus­sian plane at Aminu Kano Air­port,” she added.

She iden­ti­fied wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali, as well as con­flicts in the Nano-River basin, as re­spon­si­ble for pro­lif­er­a­tion of small arms and light weapons in West Africa.

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