•Urges FG to ascertain a verifiable number of illicit SAWL in circulation
•Said its 4.5 million not 350 million as claimed
The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has lampooned Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdurahman Dambazau (rtd) and Nigerian-born Country Director of UNREC, Mrs. Olatokunbo Ige, for brandishing a non-factual information and data on the actual figure of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) in circulation in the country as well as neighbouring African countries.
The rights group, in a statement by its Board Chairman, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, described as embarrassing, for the Minister who is a retired General and renowned Criminologist, to had given inaccurate statistics on the volume of arms and ammunitions in wrong hands, which it said is responsible for increase in the rate of violent crimes in Sub- Saharan Africa.
According to Intersociety, there were conflicting statistics between non-Nigerian UN or ECOWAS/AU research statisticians and their Nigerian counterparts, over the actual number of illicit SALWs in circulation in Africa, as well as Nigeria.
It condemned as bogus, the figure of “350 million SALWs in Nigeria” being bandied or brandished by the trio of Ige (country director of UNREC), Mr. Anselme Yabouri (another director in the Nigerian office of UNREC), and L Dambazau ( Doctor of Criminology and Nigeria’s current Minister of Interior) put the total number of illicit Small Arms & Light Weapons circulating in the country, out of 500 million in West Africa”.
The group claimed that contrary to this figure, the duo of the ECOWAS Commission President (Mr. Jean-Claude Brou) and UN Chief de Cabinet (Maria Viotti) have released research statistics that not only rubbished and shamed the trio but also affirmed the recent position of our Organization to the effect that “10 million illicit SALWs are likely in wrong hands in West Africa, out of which 4.5 million are approximately in circulation in Nigeria.
“The bogus claims and brandishing of outrageous figures by the Nigerian-born UN Agency chief immediately drew our attention and issuance of a disclaimer statement of 5th August 2016, titled: questions the Nigerian-born UN Agency chief must answer over bogus claims of circulation of 350million small arms and light weapons in wrong hands in Nigeria. The UN Agency chief ran to cover and never responded to the questions or corrected her blunder till date.
“It is so shameful that the intellectual and diplomatic image of the country is being rubbished with reckless abandon on daily basis or dragged through the mud by the Nigerian-born and based chiefs of missions of the ECOWAS, AU and UN especially those in charge of disarmament, arms control, demilitarization and demobilization. Those manning different strategic public offices in the country are also not left out of such intellectual stagnancy, crudity and anachronism.
Dambazau, was castigated over his statement in the reported in the media on January 23, 2018, where he was quoted to have said: “from records by the United Nations Centre for Peace & Disarmament, I understand that there are approximately 500million assorted arms in West Africa and out of these 500million, 70% or approximately 350million of them are in Nigeria”.
On the contrary, Intersociety said the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS Commission) has recently put the number of illicitly circulated SALWs in West Africa and Africa including Nigeria to 100million in Africa with just about 10 million in West Africa. The ECOWAS Commission’s position was made known on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 in the meeting of the organizations in the Sahel region held at the ECOWAS parliament in Abuja.
“The correct and believable research statistics was given by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace & Security, Francis Behanzin while fielding questions to journalists. Mr. Behanzin stood in at the event for the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou. It was specifically disclosed by the ECOWAS Commission that out of 100million illegal small arms and light weapons circulating in Africa, about 10million of such illegal arms are found in West Africa and over 800million around the world.
“Intersociety’s statistics was further corroborated on 19th June 2018 by the United Nations’ Small Arms Survey, which, as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), found that “over 500,000 civilians or non combatants are killed every year by small arms and light weapons involving revolvers, pistols, assault rifles, machine guns and other similar weapons”. This was disclosed by UN Chief de Cabinet, Maria Viotti, quoted as saying that “there are over one billion legal and illicit firearms in the world as at December 2017 including 857million in wrong hands”. The report estimated that 133million SALWs are held by government militaries around the world and 22.7million in the hands of law enforcement agencies while 857million of them are in civilian hands including over 390million held legally in civilian hands in USA.
“We had also disclosed that these illicit small arms and light weapons are manufactured mostly by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council including USA (majority), Russia, China, France and UK; followed by non permanent members of UN such as Germany, Italy, Brazil, Ukraine, Japan, North Korea and a number of defunct Eastern European countries, among others. There are also a total of over 1000 small arms and light weapons manufacturing companies in 98 countries with large number of them coming from USA and other four UNSC permanent members. These SALWs also kill not less than 500,000 civilians or non combatants every year with 80% of the victims being women and children.”
It further claimed that before joining the present Government of Nigeria in 2015, Dambazau was a highly respected, seminal and scholarly criminologist with numerous internationally rated books and other writings in his name.
“It is also a criminological taboo for a criminologist of Dambazau’s doctorial/professorial standing to subscribe by hook, line and sinker to contaminated and concocted figures brandished by a mere country director and domestic kitchen statistician without re-criminological analysis or questioning of same through available criminological data mining and analytical processes. It is so sad that the highly respected and celebrated doctorial/professorial criminologist has allowed himself to be made a victim of the central Government of mediocrity in Nigeria,” said Intersociety.
Intersociety therefore called for concrete steps, not bandying or brandishing of unscientific, unverifiable and unsubstantiated figures, to curb the raging menace of illicit SALWs proliferation scourge in Nigeria in particular and ECOWAS region and the entire Africa in general.
Such efforts, it said, must include proactive and diligent enforcement of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms & Light Weapons and their Ammunition thereto (2006), ratified by Nigeria in 2009.
“There shall also be speedy passage by the National Assembly and presidential assent of the National Commission against the Proliferation of the Small Arms and Light Weapons Act.
“The Buhari Administration which is complicit in flooding the country with SALWs through its militarism and militarization policies must review and reverse such arms flooding policy and return the country to full and credible democracy, rule of law and human rights observance and compliance processes and governance style,” the group said.
The full statement:War Of Statistics On Circulation Of Illicit Small Arms In Africa 2