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Nigerian Senators, yesterday, raised the alarm that Nigeria is under serious siege from murderous non-state actors whose activities are threatening the corporate existence of the country as a single entity.
The scenario, senators said, is further heightened with records from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), that out of 500 million illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million (70 percent) are domiciled in Nigeria.
Making the submissions during a public hearing, organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 (Repeal and Re-Enactment ) Bill 2021, Uba Sani said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation.
Sani, who is sponsor of the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, lamented that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.
‘We are gathered here to deal with a matter that has profound implications for our collective survival. We are under siege from murderous non-state actors. They have been acquiring arms illegally, maiming our people and threatening the continued existence of our dear nation.
‘We either take measures to deny them of the oxygen that sustains their nefarious activities or we watch helplessly as they overrun us and our country.’
The aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act, he explained, is to curtail proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.
He said UNREC recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria had reached an alarming proportion.
‘A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31, 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 pump action rifles imported from China into our country.
‘More recently, in Benue State, a local militia had the temerity to kill an army captain and 11 soldiers not to talk of reign of terror in Owerri, Imo State by gunmen who launched coordinated attacks on police headquarters and correctional centre.
‘Something must be done urgently to curtail arms proliferation, the very reason for the proposed amendment bill on the existing Firearms Act.’
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK