•Tasks state govts on arms control, DDR
•Commends Imo, Zamfara, three others
•Nigeria as haven of illicit SALW
The Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), has raised the alarm that the Nigerian states and communities are unofficially in a deadly race for illicit weapons, arms and ammunitions across the country.
To this end, the Committee has called on governments of the 36 States in Nigeria to take proactive measures in tackling the growing state of insecurity occasioned by illicit flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) through effective Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation (DDR) programmes.
The Chairman of PRESCOM, Amb. Emmanuel Imohe, stated this on Wednesday, at the opening of the two-day National Dialogue on Civilian Disarmament and FOR in Nigeria tagged; ” Initiating Dialogue with State Governments on Issues of Civil Disarmament”, organised by the with the support of the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC).
Imohe raised the alarm on high rate of arms proliferation in communities across the country, blaming it on” criminals who have turned several communities into very unsafe and insecure zones”.
He said: “The drive to acquire deadly weapons by communities either for their so-called self defence or for the pursuit of a peculiar agenda is degenerating into what is no classified as arms race leading to communal stockpile of deadly weapons
“At PRESCOM,we are reminded from time to time by individuals and groups who tell us that weapons are still every where in the country.
“This assertion is perhaps an expression of how awash the country has become as a result of the easy access that non-state actors have had to these deadly weapons.”
“The problem is indeed profound but is not one which PRESCOM alone can resolve without support from other stakeholders.
“It is also not one which the Federal Government could by itself resolve without seeking the cooperation and collaboration of state governments.”
“The respective communities where Nigeria has experienced security challenges do not exist in a vacuum but are entities within given states,” he added.
Imohe stressed that in strict geographic terms, the problems of possession and access to deadly weapons by sundry non-state actors have become a phenomenon, prevalent in most States in Nigeria.
Against this backdrop, he appealed to all states of the federation to establish weapons collection and recovery programmes with a view to mopping up illegally acquired arms being used to perpetrate crimes in commuties.
The committee chairman said the advise was predicated on information at its disposal that illegally acquired weapons were still in large quantity everywhere in the country in spite of the disarmament efforts it has so far carried out.
Imohe noted that state governments were of strategic importance in any conflict resolution and weapons collection initiative.
He said: “The need to involve states in the arms disarmament project became imperative given that combating the manifestations of insecurity such as armed violence, terrorism, small arms and light weapons proliferation and trans-border criminality without a collaborative partnership with states and local governments communities was an exercise in futility.
“The dialogue session was initiated to moot the idea of disarmament programme to states government given that state governments have an indispensable role in helping to mop up weapons that been illegally acquired by several unauthorized elements in the society.”
Imohe while regretting that the problems of possession and access to deadly weapons by sundry non-state actors have become a phenomenon, prevalent in most states in the country, commended Benue, Rivers, Katsina, Imo, Zamfara and Kaduna states, for blazing the trail in the DDR programmes.
In the same vein, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Monguno (rtd), said the desire to bring the state governments into a national strategy to address the widespread possession of illicit SAWLs by unauthorised non-state actors is something worth doing in order to bring conflicts across the country to an enduring resolution.
Monguno who was represented by the Director, Defence Affairs, Office of NSA (ONSA), Abba Mohammed Dikko, noted that “any conflict prevention and reduction mechanism without a commiserate buy-in by state governments in whose geographical areas some of these conflicts occur would be counter productive.
In this wise, he said, State governments have an important role to play in finding lasting solutions to the problem and should therefore, be encouraged to be part of the process.
“In this particular case, the fight to rid our communities of the menace of illicit firearms is one area in which we solicit partnership and collaboration with State Governments,” he remarked.