Senator Iroegbu and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) has commended Nigeria’s proposed roadmap document on the control of illicit flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) into the country.

The Project Manager, UNIDIR, Mr. Himayu Shiotani, disclosed this weekend in Abuja, at the end of a five-day workshop on ‘National Baseline Assessment on Weapons and Ammunition Management, organised by the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC).

Shiotani stated that the federal government through PRESCOM has demonstrated sustained commitment ‎to curb the illicit flow of small arms and ammunition in the country.

He said: “We know that globally this is a big challenge, where one in four people is either affected by arm conflict or high violence committed by arm issues. Nigeria has done a lot of effort to ‎improve control on the issue of arms and ammunition. The government is looking to establish a road map on how it can improve the control of arms and ammunition management and we are very encouraged by the outcome and the options the government has put forward in terms of how they would go about improving control.”

“This initiative is a national process, and what my organisation does is to provide support to the government in trying to unpack that complex issue of arms and to identify the strength; who they are; what they are very good at already; and identify the challenges in areas of enhancement. Once these have been identified and done into a road map, it is the responsibility of a government to decide how to move forward on this,” he added.

The UNIDIR representative also noted that the agency plays a support role on how to identify these challenges and what solutions can be found ‎moving forward.

Receiving the proposed document, the Director of Policy and Strategy, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Mr. Umaru Abba said the issues about illicit weapons were being tackled but not as comprehensive as they have been put together now in the proposed document.

“In September this year, we were in Benue State, we started the discussion on some of the issues that you people have actually developed now, but at least now that we have it in a more comprehensive manner and with the active participation of our partners, I think this is like the starting point.

“The issue of legislation is not something that you do overnight but all the issues you have presented now are the issues that ONSA will look into and pursue then quite vigour because these are issues of serious security concerns to Nigeria,” Abba said.

According to him, the proliferation of weapons is something that is weighing on all of us giving it various backgrounds. He said the UN report on Africa and the sub-regions, disclosed that there are about eight million SALW ‎in Africa with the bulk of these weapons not properly documented.

“How do they get into this country? Where are they at the moment? How do we retrieve them? Even those that have been purchased officially the conditions in which they are being kept, the armoury, when last were they refurbished, what about locations? Some of them I believe are located in areas where you now have civilian population around it,” Abba noted.

He urged all hands to be on deck to push this document through, while assuring that ONSA would do everything possible to ensure that most of these recommendations would be put to good use by the government.

Also speaking, the Programme Coordinator of PRESCOM, Mr. Dickson Orji, said that the review, which is called a national baseline assessment of weapons and ammunition management in Nigeria was about controlling of SALW in Nigeria, both government and illicit weapons

Orji noted that some of the key proposal was that government agencies should meet periodically to review the state of the armouries in order to ‎avoid a situation where there will be leakages from government armouries.