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Over Six Million Firearms In Civilians’ Possession – Report

Over Six Million Firearms In Civilians’ Possession – Report

No fewer than 6,154,000 firearms are in the possession of civilians in the country, a report by SBM Intelligence has revealed. The firearms, according to the report, were put at 3.21 per 100 persons, while a total of 224,200 and 362,400 firearms were in the possession of the military law and other law enforcement agencies, respectively.

The proliferation of small arms and light weapons has been attributed to the spate of insecurity in the country, despite several efforts, including the approval for the establishment of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons by the Federal Government, to curb the infiltration of firearms in the country.

Similarly, the National Assembly passed the bill for the establishment of a National Commission for Coordination and Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons. But findings by our correspondent revealed that the President had yet to assent to the bill.

According to the website of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, the bill, when signed by the President, will allow the agency to be an independent body, enabling it to carry out it functions effectively.

Efforts to get the reaction of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, were not successful as he had yet to respond to an inquiry sent to him on the matter as of the time of filling this report.

However, a security expert, Timothy Avele, said there were more firearms in the possession of the civilians than the number captured in the report. He also doubted that the bill, when signed, would make any difference.

Avele said, “I think this does not even include the arms in the hands of communities and others not accounted for. None of these will make much difference in as much as the majority of the citizens feel threatened and insecure. Sadly, corruption at the borders and sea ports still makes it easy to ship or smuggle this kind of deadly goods into the country.

“Don’t forget that some of these are manufactured in-country and secondly, without actionable intelligence to dismantle the arms cartel and to provide guaranteed security nothing will work. Another key factor is the illegal trade of official weapons by security officers to both criminal elements and citizens trying to protect themselves and their communities from bandits and terrorists.”

Also, a security analyst, Dickson Osajie, said the number of firearms in possession of civilians was an indication of danger for a country heading for general elections in 2023 Osajie said, “This is very dangerous, considering the fact that the proliferation of firearms has been the major problem of Nigeria and is aided by the porous nature of our borders. In 2023, this is going to be a big problem.”

However, the Nigeria Police Force spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, described the report as inaccurate. Adejobi said, “On this particular development, I wouldn’t say the report is factual as no one knows the exact number of weapons in the wrong hands. I also do not think the figure quoted is possible as we have recovered some guns from some criminals.

“Also, the issue of people owning weapons illegally is not because we’re preparing for an election as we had in previous elections had people who had guns in their possession, yet they were unable to deter us from having successful elections. The noise about this is an unnecessary psychological projection just to put fear in people not to participate in elections. It is never found to be a reality.

 “The customs, the military, in tandem with the police are doing their best to curb the proliferation of illegal arms into the country, and we have sustained control over these criminal elements who bring arms into the country illegally,” he said.

The Force Public Relations Officer added, “We don’t think there’s going to be an increase in the number of guns in the wrong hands because of the systems we’ve put in place to curb such. We no longer have inflows from foreign countries as we used to have. The only problem we have to surmount now is arresting those who produce these firearms locally, and with the help of citizens reporting to the police, we can achieve this. Hence, we are thinking outside the box in all these areas to mop out illegal firearms and arrest more criminal elements.

 “As for those who might have plans to foment trouble, we warn them to desist from such as we’ll not hesitate to deal with them according to the provisions of the law. We have the Electoral Act, and we urge politicians to play by the rules, and go about the electioneering peacefully.”

(punchng.com)

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