The Federal Government is set to rid the country of illegal small arms and light weapons in a decisive move to stop the recurrent herders/farmers clashes, militancy and other violent crimes.
The Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. (rtd) Abdulrahman Dambazau, stated this in Abuja at the end of a meeting of relevant agencies convened to examine and propose solutions to the challenges of proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and the problem of drug abuse in Nigeria.
He said that the meeting had come up with suggestions, embedded in a 15-point communiqué, comprising how to control drug abuse and trafficking, how to upgrade border security and management, employ effective law enforcement and management, and how to properly utilize regional and international support in tackling the security challenges.
According to the Minister, the meeting analyzed the situation and came up with the best strategies to tackle the challenges and secure the country.
Earlier, at the opening of the meeting, the Minister disclosed that reports of the UN Regional Centre for peace and Disarmament showed that there are about 500 million assorted illegal firearms in West Africa out of which 350 millions, which is 70%, are in Nigeria, adding that the nation’s porous borders had aided the proliferation of such arms in the country.
While expressing concern over the current security situation in Nigeria, the Minister said the meeting was a follow-up to an earlier one with some state governors over clashes in Benue and other states, and urged the participants to also fine-tune whatever strategies had been put forward before now on the issue and harmonize those into the outcome of their deliberations.
Gen. Dambazau posited that there exists a relationship between the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, porous borders, and drug abuse on the one hand, and the escalation of terrorism, herders/farmers clashes, militancy and other violent crimes on the other hand.
The Minister noted that large consignments of weapons were being smuggled into the country, which feed terrorism in the North-East and militancy in the Niger Delta region, and harped on Government’s determination to stop the influx.
Participants at the meeting include the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service; the Chairman Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and others from the following agencies: National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), NSC, Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and UNDP.