Amidst the increase in the proliferation of small arms and ammunition in the country, security experts have said the menace is driving the skyrocketing rate of insecurity and violence in the nation.
They noted that the proliferation of arms, occasioned by illegal and porous borders and the booming business of gun-running, is fuelling Nigeria’s security challenges, giving rise to criminal activities across the country.
The security experts who spoke to LEADERSHIP said the proliferation of arms portends the vulnerability of the nation’s borders to the spread of insurgency, compounded by the fact that Niger and Cameroon had borders with the northern Nigerian states, where Boko Haram already exerts a strong influence.
Report said there are 500 million illegal arms in West Africa out of which 350 million which constitute 70 percent are in Nigeria.
According to Statista 2021, Boko Haram Terrorists have between 2011-2021 killed 32,820 people in Borno State, 4,009 in Adamawa, 3,804 in Kaduna, 3,705 in Zamfara,3,705 in Benue, 2,929 in Yobe, and 2854 in Plateau States.
Nigeria is ranked second highest in the world in terrorist attacks after Afghanistan. With the proliferation of arms, several militant groups are active in Nigeria, leading to attacks on both civilian and military targets.
Some deaths are also been attributed to conflicts among other herdsmen, farmers, and communal clashes.
From 2011 to 2021, over 20 thousand Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram Terrorists, Kidnappers, armed robbers, and ethnic militias.
Established by the Executive Order of the President on 3 May 2021, the National Center for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) is mandated to mop up the over 350m arms in the hands of non-state actors.
However, the commission regrettably did not meet the requirements of the ECOWAS Moratorium on Small Arms of which Nigeria is a signatory in streamlining all efforts of eradication of illicit arms in the West African sub-region.
The NCCSALW has therefore partnered with Service Chiefs of military and paramilitary agencies to combat illicit arms flows in Nigeria.
The national coordinator, NCCSALW Major General Abba Mohammed Dikko (Rtd) while soliciting the support of service chiefs when he separately visited the Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Oladayo Amao and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Alkali Baba Usman in Abuja recently said the move became imperative to galvanize the whole-of-nation support in order to bring onboard stakeholders and civil society organisations in line with the guidelines enshrined in the UN and ECOWAS protocols.
Accordingly, he said the NCCSALW intends to aggregate all weapons and related materials that have been mopped up from the society and manage the stockpile leading up to its destruction.
The Centre also plans to institutionalize the process of marking all weapons holdings of security agencies and maintain a national database that would help to keep track of all small arms and light weapons in the country to ensure traceability in case the weapons fall into wrong hands.
In a statement by the director of strategic communications and information, National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Group Captain Ewejide Akintunde, Dikko said the purpose of the visit was to acquaint the various chiefs with the core functions of NCCSALW.
He said all stakeholders’ support was needed in the actualisation of the centres’ objectives.
Gen Dikko explained that the NCCSALW was established on 3 May 2021 following an executive order by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and he was appointed the pioneer National Coordinator of the Centre on 6 May 2021.
He highlighted that the Centre was intended to serve as the institutional mechanism for policy guidance, research, and monitoring of all aspects of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
“In view of this, the centre will be promoting policy actions through networking and advocacy in close collaboration with government agencies, civil society organisations, security sector institutions, development partners, and international organisations,” he said.
In response, the Chief of Defence Staff congratulated the national coordinator on his appointment and thanked him for the visit.
He noted that the establishment of the Centre was long overdue given the current state of insecurity in the nation.
The CDS further reiterated that research and experience revealed that the state of insecurity in the nation is attributable to the illicit proliferation of arms in the society.
He, therefore, commended the National Coordinator for the effort made thus far in the operationalisation of the Centre and implored the National Coordinator not to relent his effort in concretising the core functions of the centre.
Gen Irabor said the significant reduction of illicit arms flows was a collective responsibility of all stakeholders, therefore, all hands must be on deck in this fight against insecurity in the nation.
He further pledged to give his maximum support in the actualisation of the Centre’s objectives which aims at the eradication of illicit arms in the country.
On his part, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Amao, thanked the National Coordinator for the visit and highlighted the importance of collaboration with key stakeholders in combating the illicit proliferation of arms in the society.
While congratulating the National Coordinator on his appointment as the pioneer National Coordinator of the Centre, he noted that the decision to have a body with the responsibility of controlling and combatting the proliferation of SALW in the country is part of efforts to rejig the security architecture of the nation.
He, therefore, urged the Centre to remain resolute until they attain success in their mission noting that the success of the NCCSALW would equally translate to the success of the Armed Forces and other security agencies in the fight against crimes and all forms of criminalities.
Air Marshal Amao further reiterated that intelligence sharing is key to the actualisation of the objectives of the Centre and therefore advised that the Centre should strive towards the development of structures needed to effectively create and sustain intelligence sharing between both organisations.
The CAS, therefore, pledged to give his maximum support to the Centre in the actualisation of its objectives.
Also, the IGP Usman applauded the establishment of the Centre, adding that the creation of the Centre was all in the interest of peace and security as well as crime prevention and control.
He expressed delight in the opportunity to share the art of crime control and mopping of illicit arms with the Centre.
While pledging to give his full support to the Centre in the areas of intelligence sharing, capacity development, and use of instruments of the INTERPOL, the IGP however, expressed concerns about some organisations impersonating the NCCSALW and mimicking the assigned functions of the Centre.
The IGP disclosed that the Nigeria Police is on the heels of such organisations impersonating the legally established NCCSALW and would not relent in its efforts to bring them to book.
He, therefore, stressed the impact of illegal production and possession of weapons of various types within the country.
Despite challenges faced by the Nigeria Police, the IGP asserted that efforts are on top gear in checkmating the menace of unlawful arms in the society.
The IGP acknowledged tracing and law enforcement cooperation as the primary tools that would assist in combating the proliferation of illicit arms in the society.
He, therefore, pledged that the Nigeria Police would give its maximum support to the NCCSALW in the achievement of its objectives.
Though laudable, the government must address those issues that brought about the rising insecurity and win the trust of every Nigerian. It is time to silence the guns and push for national development initiatives.