OrderPaperToday – Stakeholders on Thursday urged the Senate to come up with a legal framework for the coordination and control of small arms and light weapons.
They made the appeal at a public hearing on ‘A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the National Centre for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria’ organised by the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence.
A representative of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yakubu Daudu, said Nigeria is the only African country that does not have a legal framework for the coordination and control of small arms and light weapons.
He added that the bill was in tandem with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) directives on small arms and light weapons.
Daudu also described the bill as “a dream come true,” since having the Commission will make Nigeria be at the same level as other ECOWAS member-states.
Director-General of National Task Force (NATFORCE) on Control of Arms, Baba Mohammed has expressed optimism that the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence will enact a bill that will lead to a reduction in illegal arms in circulation in Nigeria.
The DG expressed “happiness that the distinguished senators who are highly knowledgeable, representatives of the people were going through the memorandum of NATFORCE. After listening to them, and at the end of the day, they will harmonise their views.
They know the truth, irrespective of where you say it, when you say it, remains the truth. God almighty is behind the truth at all times.”
He said they were delighted to be at the public hearing to “air our views and to tell them exactly how we feel because the National Commission that Natforce is transforming into is the only commission that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) actually said should be established in all ECOWAS member-states; not any other agency by any name.”
The DG added, “that was the wisdom behind the NATFORCE’s insistence to meet the National Assembly saddled with the responsibility for enacting laws to give us the mandate so that we can be in sync with the decision of ECOWAS.
It is interesting to note that member states have established theirs in their respective states and Nigeria should not be an exception, especially that we are a loud voice in ECOWAS.”
Usman Dakingari, who represented the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said the service is one of the lead agencies in the fight against illegal weapons, which he said plays an important role in the destruction of society.
He emphasised synergy between security agencies such as “joint border drill in 2018 to mop up, not only illegal weapons but anything that can jeopardize the security of the country.”
The various speakers at the public hearing were of the view that a passage of the bill to create a commission for the Coordination and control of small arms and light weapons will help in no small way in stemming the spate of insecurity in the country.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East) assured all the stakeholders that their views expressed through written and oral memoranda will be considered as impute to the bill for better legislation.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, represented by the Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Shuaibu Lau (PDP, Taraba North) said the question of insecurity has long been with the country, no thanks to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.