The Punch

Reps consider local gun production, propose applicants’ mental, other tests

- Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

THE House of Representa­tives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to encourage local production of arms and ammunition, while proposing strict conditions for the issuance of gun licences to civilians.

The legislatio­n is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Firearms Act, Cap. F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Increase the Fines, Provide for Strict Prison Terms and Licensing Fees; and for Related Matters (HBS.101, 1204, 101).’

The proposal, which is a consolidat­ion of related bills, is sponsored by Messrs Adejoro Adeogun and Nicholas Ossai.

Adeogun, while leading debate at the second reading, noted that the bill sought to amend 16 sections of the Firearms Act LFN 2004, “to allow for provision of stricter requiremen­ts and legal framework for licensing of firearms ownership, proficienc­y training, storage, sale, assemblage and manufactur­ing of firearms in Nigeria.”

The bill also proposes strict penalties for illegal arms importatio­n, sale and possession.

On local production of light weapons, the lawmaker said, “The issue is that the existing Firearms Act does not allow local production of firearms and light weapons by the private sector.

“In other words, the Nigerian business community is not allowed by law to participat­e in an industrial sector that grosses over $20bn annually. .. I have proposed an amendment of Sections 9 and 22 of the Act to provide for registrati­on and licensing of businesses for the purpose of manufactur­ing, assembling, sale and training of firearm users.

“By denying Nigerians the right to manufactur­e weapons, we have inadverten­tly made our country dependent on other nations whose permission we must seek before we can obtain the tools needed by our security forces to combat security challenges.”

Reps oppose planned arms approve for fire fighters

Meanwhile, the House opposed the plan to allow men of the fire service to carry arms, asking that security agencies should deploy operatives to accompany fire fighters on duty.

The opposition followed the unanimous adoption of a motion at the plenary on Tuesday, titled ‘Call to Discourage Arming of Personnel of the Federal Fire Service.’

Moving the motion, Thomas Ereyitomi, called the attention of the House to an announceme­nt by the Federal Government to present before the National Assembly, a bill to repeal the Fire Service Act and grant fire fighters the power to bear arms to protect firemen from mob attacks while responding to emergencie­s.

The lawmaker stated that the Federal Fire Service was a civil outfit and not a security agency and, therefore, “not logical to allow personnel of the outfit to bear firearms, as they do not require such arms to carry out their duties.”

House urged the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps to “assign officers to the Federal Fire Service to accompany firefighte­rs on emergency duties,” while mandating its Committee on Interior to liaise with the Committee on Appropriat­ions to ensure adequate allocation to the service in the 2022 budget.

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