Insecurity: Presidency tasks state govts on arms control, DDR

The Presidency has called on governments of the 36 States in Nigeria to
take proactive measures in tackling the growing state of insecurity
occasioned by  illicit flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)
through effective Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation (DDR)
programmes.

This was the highlight of the opening of the two-day
National Dialogue on Civilian Disarmament and FOR in Nigeria on
Wednesday  tagged; ” Initiating Dialogue with State Governments on
Issues of Civil Disarmament”, organised by the Presidential Committee on
Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) with the support of the Bonn
International Centre for Conversion (BICC).

The Chairman of
PRESCOM, Amb. Emmanuel Imohe, said that in strict geographic terms, the
problems of possession and access to deadly weapons by sundry non-state
actors have become a phenomenon, prevalent in most States in Nigeria.

Imohe
raised the alarm on high rate of arms proliferation in communities
across the country, blaming it on” criminals who have turned several
communities into very unsafe and insecure zones”.

Against this
backdrop, he appealed to all states of the federation to establish
weapons collection and recovery programmes with a view to mopping up
illegally acquired arms being used to perpetrate crimes in commuties.

The
committee chairman said the advise was predicated on information at its
disposal that illegally acquired weapons were still in large quantity
everywhere in the country in spite of the disarmament efforts it has so
far carried out.

Imohe noted that state governments were of strategic importance in any conflict resolution and weapons collection initiative.

He
said: “The need to involve states in the arms disarmament project
became imperative given that combating the manifestations of insecurity
such as armed violence, terrorism, small arms and light weapons
proliferation and trans-border criminality without a collaborative
partnership with states and local governments communities was an
exercise in futility.

“The dialogue session was initiated to moot
the idea of disarmament programme to states government given that state
governments have an indispensable role in helping to mop up weapons
that been illegally acquired by several unauthorized elements in the
society.”

Imo while regretting that the problems of possession
and access to deadly weapons by sundry non-state actors have become a
phenomenon, prevalent in most states in the country, commended  Benue,
Rivers,  Katsina,  Imo, Zamfara and Kaduna states, for blazing the trail
in the DDR programmes.

He continued: “The drive to acquire
deadly weapons by communities either for their so-called self defence or
for the pursuit of a peculiar agenda is degenerating into what is no
classified as arms race leading to communal stockpile of deadly weapons

“At
PRESCOM,we are reminded from time to time by individuals and groups who
tell us that weapons are still every where in the country.

“This
assertion is perhaps an expression of how awash the country has become
as a result of the easy access that non-state actors have had to these
deadly weapons.”

“The problem is indeed profound but is not one which PRESCOM alone can resolve without support from other stakeholders.

“It
is also not one which the  Federal Government could by itself resolve
without seeking the cooperation and collaboration of state governments.”

“The
respective communities where Nigeria has experienced security
challenges do not exist in a vacuum but are entities within given
states,”he added.

In the same vein, the National Security Adviser
(NSA), Maj-Gen. Monguno (rtd), said the desire to bring the state
governments into a national strategy to address the widespread
possession of illicit SAWLs by unauthorised non-state actors is
something worth doing in order to bring conflicts across the country to
an enduring resolution.

Monguno who was represented by the
Director, Defence Affairs, Office of NSA (ONSA), Abba Mohammed Dikko,
noted that “any conflict prevention and reduction mechanism without a
commiserate buy-in by state governments in whose geographical areas some
of these conflicts occur would be counter productive.

In this
wise, he said, State governments have an important role to play in
finding lasting solutions to the problem and should therefore, be
encouraged to be part of the process.

“In this particular case,
the fight to rid our communities of the menace of illicit firearms is
one area in which we solicit partnership and collaboration with State
Governments,” he remarked.


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