AK-47 rifles constituted the biggest chunk of the over 5,840 arms and ammunition recovered from suspected criminals by the Nigeria Police Force and the military between June and October this year, LEADERSHIP investigations have revealed.
Proliferation of fire arms is one of the major challenges facing the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, secessionists, terrorism and other violent crimes in Nigeria.
In June 2021, the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, had said a total 45 sophisticated firearms and ammunition, including one GPMG, one LAR rifle, 17 AK47 rifles, two Pump Action rifles, locally fabricated firearms, single barrel guns and live ammunition of different calibres had been recovered.
In Delta State, assorted arms concealed in a bag of rice were recovered by the police from an escapee passenger who boarded a vehicle from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The arms included 138 rounds of AK47 live ammunition, one AK47 magazine, one Baretta pistol magazine and a knife.
In July, Lagos State commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said the police recovered a total of 110 arms and 125 ammunition in different parts of the state.
In Bauchi, the police in August 2021 said it recovered 25 AK-47 rifles and 6,460 ammunition.
Also in August, the Niger State Police Command arrested suspects with two locally fabricated guns while on their way to Garun-gabas market.”
The Police Command in Delta also arrested seven suspects three cut-to-size single barrels gun with 18 cartridges.
Operatives of the NPF also arrested 39 suspects with two RPG launchers, 13 AK47 rifles, four locally made pistols, 58 wraps of dynamite, 769 AK47 live ammunition, 14 AK47 magazines and 30 live cartridges,
In September, the Ebonyi State Police command recovered over 800 arms and ammunition.
The state commissioner of police, CP Aliyu Garba, said the command recovered over 800 arms and ammunition from criminals in the state, adding this was made possible through synergy with the people of the State.
He said the recoveries include arms and live ammunition and locally made Improvised Explosive Device, 11AK-47 rifles, five assault rifles and one GPMG.
Also, the Ogun State Police Command said it recovered a total number of 3,445 arms and ammunition in October, 2021.
The commissioner of police, Ahmed Iliyasu, said some of the recovered items include 24 AK47 assault rifles, 66 pump action guns, more than 1,000 single and double barrel guns, about 1,100 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, and 1,200 rounds of live cartridges.
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP investigations also showed that in the northern part of the country where insurgency, banditry and kidnapping are rampant, residents have resorted to stockpiling arms for protection.
Communities in Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Katsina and Sokoto States are said to be fully involved in arms stockpiling for self-protection against rampaging kidnappers, bandits and terrorists.
Also, the Nigeria Armed Forces also recovered large cache of light arms and small weapons from surrendered terrorists and others killed during encounters with non-state actors in the period under review.
In June, troops of the Nigerian Army engaged bandits in a gun duel and recovered one PKT riffle and large cache of ammunitions.
The troops, in another encounter, killed five bandits at Bingi village in Bungudu local government area of Zamfara and recovered one AK-47 rifle from them.
In July, the troops operating across the country recovered 39 guns and large cache of ammunitions.
In the North East, troops of Operation HADIN KAI recovered one General Purpose Machine Gun, four AK-47 rifles, 50 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and one belt containing 296 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, accessories for making IED, among other items.
In the North West, the troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI in the period under review recovered seven AK-47 rifles and 12 assorted rifles.
The troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE recovered five motorcycles, three pump actions, one locally-made mortar tube, six Dane guns, three machetes and 62 assorted rounds of ammunition within the period.
In another development, troops of Operation WHIRL PUNCH/THUNDER STRIKE recovered two dane guns, three AK-47 rifles, two locally fabricated rifles, three motorcycles and 23 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.
In August, the military recovered several AK 47 rifles, magazines and a locally made pistol from surrendered terrorists.
Others include 35 assorted arms and 1,051 round of ammunition, including AK-47 and FN rifles, Dushka anti-aircraft guns, GPMG, PKT guns, 60mm mortar tubes, Makarov pistol and other machine guns, amongst other items.
Cumulatively, five AK-47 rifles, three rounds of 9mm ball and 48 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition were said to be recovered.
Between August 2 and 6, 2021, troops recovered six AK-47 rifles, one SMG, two pistols, 66 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition among other items.
They also recovered one speed boat, one AK-47 rifle, one FN rifle, three Smoke gun rifles, 12 fabricated RPGs, 263 live cartridges, 20 rounds of 7.62mm NATO and 7.62mm special ammunition, among other items.
In the South East, troops also recovered 19 AK-47 rifles, single barrel Dane guns, one G3 assault rifle and three locally-made pistols, 30 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, three daggers, and one locally-made double barrel pistol loaded with 10 rounds of cartridges.
In all, the troops recovered 87 weapons and other equipment in August.
Meanwhile in September, the military recovered 283 rifles and ammunitions.
A breakdown showed that troops operating in the North East recovered 121 assorted weapons, including SMG, HK21 guns, AK-47 and locally-made rifles with magazines, 3,372 rounds of 7.62mm NATO/Special ammunition, locally made pistols and smooth body grenades, as weel as RPG-7 bombs.
In the North West, 125 assorted arms, including AK-47 and FN riffles and Dane guns as well as 1,166 rounds of 7.62mm special/NATO ammunition, were recovered.
Also, troops of operation Whirl Stroke recovered 23 AK-47 rifles with magazines as well as 66 rounds of 7.62mm special and 39mm ammunition.
In the same vein, troops of operation Safe Haven recovered 14 locally fabricated rifles, 27 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 14 cartridges and 44 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition among others
In the month of October, troops on operations across the country recovered over 70 arms, including ammunitions.
The troops of OPHK recovered 38 assorted weapons and 968 rounds of assorted ammunition in the North East.
They also recovered 11 assorted arms, including AK-57 rifles, locally fabricated rifles, pistols and SMG as well as 446 assorted ammunitions
Other recoveries include 22 AK 47 rifles, 107 rounds of ammunition, 13 assorted arms, 291 ammunitions.
The military also recovered 35 arms, including AK-47 rifles, Machine Guns, teargas launchers, locally-made pistols and rifles, 25 extra rifle magazines and 431 rounds of ammunition.
When contacted, the newly established National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) charged to mop up arms said it has not received any weapons.
The director of Strategic Communication and Information (NCCSALW), Group Captain E. Akintunde, said the centre was aware of several weapons recovered but has not been handed any officially.
He said, “Officially, none for now. Although there are several recovered arms that abound, the centre is awaiting the conclusion of investigations and possible conviction on the illegal weapons before taking charge of the weapons.”
He said the Centre’s mandate also includes marking all arms recovered in the polity and those with arms bearing security agencies.
Security Agencies, Others Seek Law Against Proliferation Of Small Arms, Light Weapons
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, the Police, Nigerian Immigration Service and Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) have thrown their weight behind a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to give legal backing to the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
They stated their various views at a public hearing on ‘ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and other Related Matters (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill’.
Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, who was represented by Air Vice Marshall T. O. Yusuf welcomed the bill, saying it will tackle the proliferation of small arms and light weapons fast becoming a threat to the security of the country.
He however said that due diligence was needed on the bill, as it appeared it will establish an agency with functions duplicative of the National Commission Against the Proliferation of Arms and Light Weapons, an executive bill before the National Assembly.
“On proposed bill, it was well received and it is pertinent to state that DHQ is of the view that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria poses a systemic threat to the nation’s long term socio-economic development as well as security,” he stated.
Also, the Inspector-general of Police, Usman Baba, represented by Assistant Inspector-general in charge of Armament, Mohammed Lawan, also supported the bill.
He said, “The Nigerian Police Force encourages law enforcement agencies of ECOWAS member states to support joint action, both at international, regional and national level, to stamp out the rising illicit traffic link to organized crimes and terrorist activities”.
The chairman of IMAN Special Task Force, Chijioke Okoro, urged the House to speedily pass the bill and also ensure that all other stakeholders in the establishment of the commission be carried along.
He said, “It is internationally known that Importers Association is strategically placed at a vantage position to help government checkmate all categories of importation of goods and services whether legal or illegal and thereby serve as perfect infiltrator to filter all imperfections elements right from the countries of origin.”
The chairman, House committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, noted that the Bill seeks to give legal effects in Nigeria to the ECOWAS Convention to checkmate the security challenges precipitated by small arms and light weapons proliferation.
He said, “The overall objective of the strategy is to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in an integrated and holistic manner across all regions of Africa.
“It has therefore become necessary, Hon Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, that today’s engagement would further encourage the seamless domestication of the several international instruments to which Nigeria as a state party is yet to effectively and legally internalize.”
It would be recalled that the Bill passed second reading at the plenary on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 and was referred to my Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements for further legislative action.
Military Budgets N36bn For Defence Equipment
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, Air Force and Navy have budgeted 36,022,192,587 for procurement of defence equipment needed to protect the nation’s territorial integrity against external and internal aggressions for the year 2022.
The proposed budget is supposed to equip the military which has continually been struggling with inadequate equipment required to effectively prosecute the over a decade war against Insurgency and other extremist groups.
The Army however earmarked NB141,377,914 for the construction of worship centres in 176 GDS Battalion.
A breakdown of the proposed budget showed that the Nigerian Army earmarked N3,472,037,089 for purchase of defence equipment and N2,766,851,739 for security equipment.
Overall, the Nigerian Army earmarked 579,089006,262 for its total expenditure.
The Army, however, budgeted 4,321,301,857 for training personnel.
A further breakdown of the budget showed that while the Army did not specify how much is meant for arms and ammunition, the Nigerian Air Force earmarked N1,500,000,000 for procurement of arms and ammunitions, N1,056,694,283 for aircraft maintenance and N168,241,500 for Uniforms and kits.
The Nigerian Air Force, on the other hand, proposed N179,779,010,481 expenditure for the year 2022.
NAF budgeted N2,070,950,080 for aircraft fuel, and N25,657,742,046 for purchase of defence equipment.
Aircraft maintenance got 1,056,694,283 and uniforms/kits got N168,241,500 for capacity building, while the NAF earmarked N617,817,00 for international training and N402,450,000 for local training.
Interestingly, N3,000,000,00 is budgeted for the procurement of various aircraft arms and ammunitions and N1,500,000,000 for procurement of various small arms and ammunitions.
This is in addition to 1,000,000,000 for procurement of Uniforms/accoutrements. The Nigerian Navy also earmarked 148,223,502,510 for expenditure. A breakdown which shows that 6,892,413,452 is budgeted for purchase of defense equipment,3,000,000,000 for Sea boat fuel cost and 537,899,495 for Aircraft fuel. To build capacity of the fighting force, the Navy budgeted N855,488,699 comprising N409,464,254 for local training and N446,024,445 for International training.
Maintenance of sea boats got 3,825,180,994 and Aircraft maintenance 1,200,000,000
The Ministry of Defence earmarked 218,041,734 for purchase of defence equipment and 54,204,503 for training.
And yesterday, the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) has partnered the Nigerian Army towards the eradication of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria.
The centre in pursuant of its mandate of eradicating the spread of illicit arms in the society reaffirms its commitment to promote an illicit arm-free Nigeria.
The national coordinator of NCCSALW; Major General Abba Mohammed Dikko (Rtd), during a courtesy call on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Faruk Yahaya reiterated the Centre’s effort toward achieving its objectives of facilitating wider stakeholder participation in the eradication of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), institutionalizing SALW control and mainstreaming illicit SALW eradication effort in Nigeria’s national security discourse.
Dikko informed the COAS of issues about SALW and highlighted modalities to strengthen the Centre’s ongoing drive towards the eradication and control of illicit SALW in Nigeria.
The forum provided a platform to appraise the successes recorded by the Nigerian Army in its fight against insecurity throughout the nation.
They also discussed unfolding developments regarding the surrender and recovery of arms by the Nigerian Army in some parts of the North-East and North-West.
In his remarks, the Chief of the Army Staff thanked the National coordinator for identifying with the Nigerian Army as the vanguard in the fight against the proliferation of illicit SALW and related materials and commended the efforts of the Centre so far in the achievement of its mission.
He restated that the bane of insecurity in the nation today has been the proliferation of SALW.
He therefore pledged the support of the Nigeria Army to the Centre in its endeavours to rid the nation of illicit arms