By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Nigerian Army, the Police, Nigerian Immigration Service and Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) have thrown their weight behind a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to give legal backing to the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The stakeholders states their various positions at a public hearing on; ‘ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and other Related Matters (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill’ held in Abuja on Monday.
It will be recalled that the Bill passed second reading at the plenary on Wednesday, 14th July, 2021 and was referred to my Committee on Treaties,
Protocols and Agreements for further legislative action.
In his presentation, Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor who was represented by T. O. Yusuf (Air Vice Marshall) welcomed the bill, saying it tackle the proliferation of small arms and light weapons fast becoming a threat to the security of the country.
He however said that due diligence was needed on the bill as it appeared to it will establish an agency with functions duplicative of the National Commission Against the Proliferation of Arms and Light Weapons, an executive bill before the National Assembly.
He said: “On proposed bill, it was well received and it is pertinent to state that DHQ is of the view that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria poses a systemic threat to the nation’s long term socio-economic development as well as security,”.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali-Baba, represented by Assistant Inspector General in charge of Armament, Mohammed Lawan also supported the bill.
He said: “The Nigerian Police Force encourages law enforcement agencies of ECOWAS member states to support joint action both at international, regional and national level to stamp out the rising illicit traffic link to organized crimes and terrorist activities”.
In a position paper, the Chairman of IMAN Special Task Force, Chijioke Okoro prayed the House to speedily pass the bill and also ensure that all other stakeholders in the establishment of the commission be carried along.
“it is internationally known that Importers Association is strategically placed at a vantage position to help government checkmate all categories of importation of goods and services whether legal or illegal and thereby serve as perfect infiltrator to filter all imperfections elements right from the countries of origin”, he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai said the Bill seeks to give legal effects in Nigeria to the ECOWA Convention to checkmate the security challenges precipitated by small arms and light weapons proliferation.
“The overall objective of the strategy is to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in an integrated and holistic manner across all regions of Africa.
“It has therefore become necessary, Hon Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen that today’s engagement would further encourage the seamless domestication of the several international instruments to which Nigeria as a state party is yet to effectively and legally internalize”, Ossai added.
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