National Taskforce on Small Arms, Light and Chemical Weapons Director – General (DG), Emmanuel Okereke, has cried out against the influx of illegal weapons in Nigeria ahead the 2019 general elections.
He accused some politicians of being behind the stockpiling of the ammunition and called on government to establish a national commission for the prohibition of illegal importation of small arms, ammunition and light weapons and other related matters.
He stated this at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, blaming the development on porous nature of Nigeria’s borders and the non -existence of a specific agency or commission to tackle the menace
“Due to the lack of a legally established specific body or commission as obtainable in 14 out of the 16 countries in the West African sub- region, all manner of ammunition have been illegally brought into the country ahead of the elections by high-class political players.
“For Nigeria to effectively tackle the menace of proliferation of ammunition in the country with its attendant crimes, a National Commission for the Prohibition of Illegal Importation of Small Arms, Ammunition and Light Weapons and other relate matters , must be established as already done by other West African countries except Nigeria and Gambia,” he said.
Noting that the commission was recommended for all West African countries through a resolution passed to that effect by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) December 2017, Okereke regretted that Nigeria ignored the recommendation.
“Unfortunately, while 14 out of the 16 member sub-regional body have complied, Nigeria and Gambia have yet to do the needful in that direction,” he said.
He further pointed out that before the ECOWAS ’s resolution, a bill for the establishment of such a commission had long been sponsored by the national task force.
“The bill, as it is currently in the 8th Senate, has passed second reading in the House of Representatives but not yet at the Senate having earlier failed to scale through the required legislative processes in the 6th and 7th National Assembly.”
According to Okereke, the commission would be a revenue earner and not a burden on the finances of the country if established.