House moves to end arms proliferation

The Nigerian House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill to establish National Commission against the Prohibition of small arms and light weapons.

When established, the commission would among other things, regulate and prohibit small arms and light weapons and also sensitize the public on the dangers of these arms.

Sponsor of the bill, Nnenna Elendu Ukeje, from Abia State said what used to be a minor electoral violence, robbery, revolt among others in the last couple of years has suddenly increased in a more dangerous dimension in the country.

Mrs Elendu-Ukeje said The commission when established will be charged with responsibility of tracing and combating trafficking of Arms, Ammunitions and Light Weapons.

It will also sensitize the public on the dangers of Small Arms and Light Weapons in order to discourage their Production and combat the menace in the country.

Mrs. Ukeje said research has shown that there are five hundred million small arms in circulation in West Africa and about seventy percent of those arms reside in Nigeria, bringing their total number to three hundred and fifty million.

This according to the lawmaker is contrary to the conditions of the ECOWAS treaty as prescribed by the United Nations program.

Recently the United Nation Centre for Peace and Disarmament said West Africa had about 500 million small arms in circulation with 70 percent in Nigeria.

The war in Liberia, Sierra Lone and the subsequent breakdown of law and order in Libya contributed to the proliferation of these arms into Nigeria as a result of the country's porous borders, Elendu-Ukeje stressed.

Contributing, Mr. Sadiq Ibrahim from Adamawa State, identified the spate of armed violence bedeviling the country to the proliferation of small arms.

He said the easy access to this weapons has increased the spate of Kidnapping, Insurgency, cattle rustling and bandits wreaking havoc on various communities.

Mr. Sadiq revealed that Statistics from the office of the Senate President on killings in the country, due to armed conflict has claimed over eight hundred and seventy-seven (877) lives between January and April.

Contributing on the bill, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State, advocated for stringer penalty against the violators.

Nigeria's gun control laws are obsolete and that we could not tackle 21st Century crimes with 1959 laws, he added.

Source: Voice of Nigeria