Small Arms Memes: EU, ECOWAS, Stakeholders Seek Presidential Assent to Weapons Center Bill

Small Arms Memes: EU, ECOWAS, Stakeholders Seek Presidential Assent to Weapons Center Bill

*Call for strong legislative support to curb arms’ proliferation

*It undermines national security, says NSA 

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

In a renewed bid to contain the proliferation of small and light weapons in Nigeria and the West African sub-region, the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other stakeholders, yesterday, called for presidential assent to the “National Commission for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill, 2022 before President Bola Tinubu.”
The roundtable themed: “Mapping the Landscape of SALW Proliferation in Nigeria: Gaps and Opportunities” also called for stronger legislative support to curb the menace of small and light weapons in the country.

This came as the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, said the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons remained a scourge that undermined national security, noting that it was a challenge that no single entity could combat alone.

National Coordinator of the National Center for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Maj Gen Abba Dikko (rtd) said, “a crucial step forward, however, will be the Presidential assent to the Centre’s Bill, which is anticipated to provide the legal authority necessary for better operational effectiveness.”
The ECOWAS Convention on the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons was adopted on June 14, 2006 and came into effect in 2009.

The convention sought to promote the establishment of a regional database of arms, enhance weapons’ control at border posts, review and harmonise legislation and administrative procedures governing small arms, as well as the destruction of surplus and unauthorised weapons.
In addition, it further sought to promote a culture of peace and  facilitate education and public awareness on the issues of small arms and light weapons (SALW).
Speaking at the meeting, Leader of the ECOWAS delegation in charge of Peace Support Operations, Dr Mohammed Adamu, called for presidential assent to the bill to enable the center function effectively.

He said there was a compelling need to engender “the required national political will and the application of the required national resources to be able to fight this fight. But I would like to also say what is consistently missing is the need for us to put in place the institutional as well as implementation arrangement.
“There’s the need for legislation to be able to allow the center to actually fully, effectively continue this excellent work that they are doing. I’m happy the bill is already before the president, which eventually, as soon as it’s signed, is assented to, will be able to see that in the region, in all the 15 member states of ECOWAS, its only Nigeria that is yet to put in place through an act of parliament.

“But I would say if it’s an institutional implementation arrangement, Nigerian government has demonstrated strong political will to be able to actually accompany this process of implementing the ECOWAS convention.

“I would like to actually commend the government for this very, very important support and looking forward, you know, towards getting the bill that will help to transform the centre into a legally binding, I mean legal institution; an institution that is legally constituted to combat arms proliferation.”
In her remarks, the Programme Manager for EU delegation to Nigeria and Africa, Mrs Eno Moma, said illicit weapons threatened the democratic process and institutions.

“As you may well know, illicit weapons, which are now, even more readily available threaten electoral processes, weaken police authority, promote sexual violence and undermine security efforts to maintain peace.

“This is particularly worrisome in the face of the rise of criminal activity and violent extremism within the country and beyond its borders,” she said.
She affirmed that, “With a total budget of EUR 24.4 million, this project is part of the regional effort to combat organised crime and trafficking in persons in West Africa by reducing the availability and illicit trafficking of SALW at border community level and strengthening cross-border cooperation as well as the capacity of national actors on SALW control.”

Related Articles