BY SUNDAY ISUWA |
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has asked the Senate to increase fine for illegal possession of firearm from N1 million to N2 million.
LEADERSHIP reports that presently, fine for illegal possession of firearm is N1,000 but the Senate in a proposed law, is seeking for a N1 million fine.
The Senate, through its joined committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport conducted a public hearing on Firearms Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 (Repeal and Re – Enactment) Bill 2021.
At the public hearing, the 2016 United Nations (UN) report came up when senators were told that out of 500 million Illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70 per cent are domiciled in Nigeria.
The UN report is not unconnected with the nefarious activities taking place in Nigeria, ranging from banditry, kidnapping, ethnic crisis, and Boko Haram.
Making a presentation at the public hearing, the Nigeria Air Force said the fine for anyone with illegal weapon should be put at N2 million.
The major penalty for offence under the Act is the one under section 27 (sub section 1c) which proposed increase of fine for illegal possession of firearm from N1,000 to N1 million.
But objecting the N1 million fine for illegal possession of firearms, the representative of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao said the fine should be increased to N2 million.
The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central) said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation of illegal possession of firearm, lamenting that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.
The lawmaker explained that the aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act is to curtail the proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.
Speaking further on the frightening development, the lawmaker said, “The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, has reached an alarming proportion.
“Analysts estimate that out of the 500 million weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, can be found in Nigeria,” he said.
“A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31st, 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 Pump Action Riffles imported from China into our country,” Sani added.
Also, the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC) said Nigeria needs a law to criminalise illegal possession of home made fire arms in the country.
NLRC’s chairman Prof Jummai Audi said the amendment to the bill on firearms was a welcome development, given issues of proliferation of firearms in Nigeria.