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Senate seeks to establish commission against illegal use of arms

– Nigerian lawmakers are making moves to establish a bill against the unlawful use of arms

– The bill was sponsored by Kogi state senator Smart Adeyemi

– The commission’s function would include identifying people involved in the illegal trade

On Wednesday, the Nigerian Senate considered a bill seeking to establish the National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by Ezrel Tabiowo, the special assistant on press to the Senate president. The bill scaled second reading on the floor of the upper chamber during its plenary session.

Senator Smart Adeyemi, who sponsored the bill said the functions of the commission include identifying sources and routes of small arms and ammunitions, identifying those involved in the illicit trade, and providing harmonization of intelligence and information collection.

According to the APC senator, the proliferation of small arms and weapons is a phenomenon responsible for destabilizing the peace, development and threatening the national security of some countries in Africa.

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Noting that the local root causes of conflicts are numerous and diverse, Adeyemi, however, said that in all local conflicts, the diffusion of illegal arms and weapons of terror has played a decisive role in the escalation and intensification of these conflicts.

He said, “the proliferation of these weapons affects the intensity and duration of violence and encourages militancy rather than a peaceful resolution of unsettled differences.”

The lawmaker stated that, “in Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge, adding “there is general insecurity as most parts of the country experience high level crimes perpetrated using illicit arms.”

Citing a United Nations report, Adeyemi raised concerns that “a substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria.

“This has fueled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East, Armed robbery pandemic in the South West, Ethnic-Religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram operations in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into serious state of insecurity.”

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He warned further that the 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 jeopardized free and fair elections in many states of the federation,” the lawmaker said.

“There are numerous ways by which small arms can be smuggled into the country because of their light-weight and concealable nature. Trucks have been used to smuggle arms into the country, while a number of them are brought in on donkeys, camels and on foot.

“The effects of illegal arms and weapons of terror in Nigeria are self-explanatory an calls for concerted effort by all and sundry to successfully prosecute this war against terror. The support, collaboration, and involvement of all genuine stakeholders is a condition precedent to winning the war,” Adeyemi said.

Senator Adamu Aliero while lending his voice in support of the passage of the bill, accused men of the Nigerian Customs Service of conniving with arms dealers to smuggle in small arms into the country through the borders.

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Nasarawa state Senator Abdullahi Adamu contributing to the debate lamented that the proliferation of small arms has become a thriving business because those involved in the illicit trade are not apprehended by the relevant security agencies.

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In a previous report by Legit.ng, Samson Salau, a suspected gunrunner from Plateau state, reportedly confessed to selling dangerous weapons, including AK-47 guns, to armed robbers and bandits attacking some northern states.

Salau, in a video clip, confessed to the crimes while being interrogated by DSP Hassan Gimba Sule, the Minna sector commander of the Inspector General of Police (IGP)’s Special Tactical Squad. The suspect, who spoke in Hausa, confessed that he has been involved in the criminal business for over three years.

In a related development, the Nigeria Police Force on Wednesday, January 8, arrested a 32-year-old suspected gunrunner, identified as Samuel Uche, in Mafoluku area of Oshodi in Lagos state. Uche was arrested by detectives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) while on his way to sell two automatic revolver pistols to a notorious kidnapping and armed robbery gang.

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