- Four bills seeking to amend 1999 Constitution pass first reading
Chuks Okocha and Deji Elumoye in Abuja
With over 350 million small and light arms in private hands in Nigeria, the Senate yesterday moved to establish a commission to control its proliferation in the country.
This is sequel to the adoption of the bill titled “A bill for an act to provide for the establishment of the Nigeria National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons and Related Matters,” sponsored by the Chairman of Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi .
Leading the debate, Adeyemi stated that in 2019 alone, Small Arms Survey reported that over one billion small arms were distributed globally, out of which 350 million (about 70 per cent) are in civilian hands in Nigeria
He also said the Survey revealed that US civilians alone account for 393 million (about 46 per cent) of the worldwide total of civilian held firearms.
Accordingly, Senator Adeyemi said the objectives of the commission is to identify country routes and sponsor countries, stating that by so doing, Nigeria would have gone a long way to curbing and controlling the proliferation of arms through the establishment of the commission.
He blamed the proliferations of small and light arms in Nigeria for the violent crimes and increasing rate of ethno and religious crisis as well as violence during elections, explaining that it has taken a heavy toll on the population of Nigeria in terms of humanitarian crisis.
The senator said that small arms and light weapons, if not controlled have the capacity to truncate the nascent democracy in Nigeria.
He was supported by Senator Adamu Harilu from Kebbi State who blamed the proliferation on illegal routes across the various unmanned routes into Nigeria.
He explained that in most cases, these arms found their ways into private hands through motorcycles, Carmels and other illegal routes.
Senator Abdulfatah Buhari from Oyo State said that the number of private arms in Nigeria is more than those in the hands of the military and paramilitary agencies. He blamed the increased rate of proliferation to absence of political will to control.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa state blamed the proliferation on the growing market. He said that there is a great limitations and capacity to control the possession of illegal arms in villages.
The former governor of Nasarawa State said that most these arms came from the armouries of the security agencies in the country, explaining that Nigerians choose to go for private arms because of the failure of security agencies to protect lives and property in Nigeria.
He also said that there is the problem of local manufacturers, adding that even when people are arrested, nothing will be heard in terms of the subsequent prosecution.
The bill was referred to the National Security and Intelligence Committee, which was directed to return it in the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday passed for first readings, four bills that seek to amend the 1999 constitution. Details of the session were not clear but the bills were referred to the Senate ad-hoc committee on constitution review headed by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo Agege.
The Senate also observed one-minute silent for renowned author and former registrar of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Prof. Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike who died last week.
Two other bills that scaled second reading at the Senate were the bill to establish the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Academy to train officers and men of the corps and the Federal University of Environment Technology, Saakpenwa, to be sighted in Ogoniland.
The Senate also passed for the second reading the bill to establish Police Academy Wudil, Kano as a degree awarding institution.
Speaking later, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan assured that President Muhammadu Buhari would accent to all these bills, especially those relating to security because all hands are on board to ensure that the security challenges in the country are addressed.
He said that the Senate is not playing to the gallery, adding that training is a pillar towards getting quality security personnel.