Stakeholders Workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons held in Abuja
Fire arms and weapons moves freely in the society despite the fact that there are laws regulating the movement. In order to checkmate the free movement, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) brought together stakeholder in Abuja, to discuss the appropriate moves to combat the proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in cross border communities across Nigeria.
The Nigerian Fire Arms Act
(1990) provides that no person shall have in his possession or under his
control any firearm or ammunition except such person has a license from the
President or from the Inspector General of Police.
Anyone who has in their possession unlicensed firearms; who imports or exports firearms or ammunition other than through prescribed ports or who manufactures, assembles, or repair of firearms and ammunition unlawfully shall be liable to a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment.
Mr Fredrick Ampiah, UNDP’s Regional Coordinator for Small Arms and Light Weapons, during a stakeholders’ inception meeting on UNDP’s proposed assistance in combating arms proliferation in Nigeria said the meeting is focused on offering solutions and bringing up ideas on how to stop the proliferation of small and light weapons in Nigeria, and across the sub region.
Ampiah said that the stakeholders’ engagement was organised to have an in-depth discussion on the project the UNDP was planning in Nigeria to support the proliferation of small arms in targeted cross border communities. The workshop also aimed at building capacities of security agencies and CSOs in cross border communities with a specific focus on women to foster cross border and security networks across the borders.
In his words, “We believe that addressing the proliferation of small arms requires a multi-dimensional approach that goes beyond every single country; and we know that we have a lot of borders that are porous.We have some borders that are manned as well, so the idea is to build the capacity and strengthen the operational abilities of the cross border institutions that man the borders.” Furthermore, Ampiah said, “Strengthen institutional and operational capacity of our security agencies at the border communities and then ultimately, have a kind of a network or platform which you can exchange information and ideas.”
The UNDP Representative said that with Nigeria having borders with several countries, there would be specific focus on the Nigeria-Cameroon, Nigeria –Benin, Nigeria-Chad and Nigeria –Niger borders, as such there was need for legal and regulatory frameworks to be in place to effectively deal with small arms proliferation and trafficking. He explained that without legal and regulatory frameworks in place to prosecute perpetuators, the whole policies would end up in a vicious circle without any effect.
The Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), Amb. Emmanuel Imohe while speaking at the opening ceremony noted that one of the major challenges of security agencies was the ability to understand the dynamics of criminals who always tried to stay ahead of security operatives.
Imohe, who was represented by Dickson Orji, PRESCOM’s Programme Coordinator, said that the workshop would enable the UNDP, PRESCOM and other stakeholders to come up with suitable implementation policies. He said that proliferation of small arms was not just a Nigerian problem but a big global issue because as the world sought to solve the problems, the more new dynamics were emerging.
In his words, “this workshop is for bringing together security agencies to find out the roots and causes of infiltration of small arms in Nigeria and how it can be combated. This workshop is basically looking at ways of training and increasing the capacity of the security agencies in combating these crimes of infiltration of small arms and other dangerous weapons.”
On the issue of constant kidnapping on our highways, Imohe said, “We are bothered because we know that the primary choice or weapons of those perpetuating this crime is small and light weapons. Without these weapons in their possession, you and I can tackle them when confronted on the road,” Imohe said that Since 2013, PRESCOM had trained more than 500 security personnel drawn from different agencies on maritime and border management both in and outside Nigeria.