Posted by News Express | 20 February 2020 | 708 times
Senators, on Wednesday, accused security agencies of offering weapons to criminals. They also indicted the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) and Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) for conniving with criminals who smuggle arms and ammunition illegally into the country.
They also linked the spate of killings, kidnappings, banditry and other violent crimes in the country to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
The senators stated this during a debate on “A Bill for an act to provide for the establishment of the Nigeria National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons and for related matters,” sponsored by Smart Adeyemi.
The bill, having passed the second reading, was referred to the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, with a mandate to report back in two weeks for further legislative action.
Adeyemi said the bill sought to establish a commission to coordinate and implement activities that combat the challenge of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria, in line with ECOWAS stance on small arms and light weapons.
The lawmaker listed the objectives of the bill to include “identifying sources and main routes of small arms, ammunition and light weapons; identifying why this illicit trade thrives in Nigeria; liaise with relevant authorities, agencies and organisations, with the aim of tackling the menace.”
“The UN estimated a substantial percentage of illegal arms in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria. This has fuelled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South-East, armed robbery pandemic in the South-West, ethnic and religious violence on the Plateau, and Boko Haram in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity. Uncontrolled arms have also impacted on the country’s democracy and development negatively. Electoral violence by gun-wielding thugs and assassinations of several political leaders since 1999 have jeopardised free and fair elections in many states of the federation,” Adeyemi said.
Senators took turns to stress the necessity of the bill in their debates. Adamu Aliero, lending his voice in support of its passage, accused the Nigerian Customs Service of conniving with dealers to smuggle small arms into the country through the land borders. Aliero said “violence would continue” if the bill was not passed into law.
Emmanuel Bwacha cited the United States as a country operating without strong gun control laws, lamenting “they are paying dearly for it today. It is better to have a control of arms than allow every Dick and Harry to possess arms. In doing this, we must do it with genuine intention,” Bwacha said.
Abdullahi Adamu, lamented that the proliferation of small arms had become a thriving business because those involved were not apprehended and prosecuted by relevant security agencies.
Francis Fadahunsi lamented a situation where weapons kept under the care of the military and police would be stolen from armouries.
Ibrahim Gobir alleged that Immigration and Customs connived with criminals to proliferate illegal firearms and ammunition while Amos Bulus lamented that government lacked the will to prosecute those involved in gunrunning.
Meanwhile, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the National Assembly has devised a strategy that would see to the creation of institutions dedicated to providing enduring solutions to Nigeria’s security travails.
Lawan made the disclosure in his concluding remarks on three critical pieces of legislation presently before the National Assembly which seek to establish the Nigeria Civil Defence Academy; a bill to give legal backing to the Nigeria Police Academy; and another to establish a commission against the proliferation of small arms and weapons.
According to Lawan, the National Assembly remains committed to ensuring that the security situation in the country improves.
“For the last two weeks or so, or even more, the Senate has been discussing and debating on security related motions for days. This is our commitment to our country. We want to see the security situation improve, and that is why we are doing this. We are dealing with this by trying to institutionalise certain situations that will provide enduring arrangements and solutions to the situation we face today.” (The Sun)
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