The Nigerian Navy has said that developed countries are contributing to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria by constantly donating weapons to neighbouring countries who do not own armouries, hence making it difficult for Nigeria to fight arms smuggling.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Awwal Gambo, stated this in Abuja Monday, at a public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence on the consideration of four security bills.
The proposed legislations are bill to establish the National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, bill to make Provision for the Integration of Private Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), bill to Repeal the Explosives Act, and bill to designate the month of November as the National Appreciation for Security Agencies Month.
Addressing the lawmakers, Gambo who was represented by Commodore Jemila Sadiq Abubakar, said the weapons donated by developed countries to neighbouring nations are compounding Nigeria’s security challenges.
According to her, the lack of armoury in some of the neighbouring countries makes arms available to Nigeria’s security operatives who in turn sell it when they are broke.
She, therefore, urged the federal government to build a wall across the country’s borders to stop the proliferation of arms and ammunition.
She said: “I was in Chad recently and discovered that most of the countries that surround us do not have armouries and that is why most of their citizens get arms that they sell to make money. They do not have armoury. So most of their arms are being donated by developed countries. I don’t want to be specific. We should build a wall between our country and the neighbouring countries. The developed countries in the name of assisting us to fight our problems are compounding our problems in Nigeria because you find out that every average Chadian soldier has 20 to 30 arms underneath his bed.
“When he is broke, he brings it out and sells it for $30, $20. I am here, I am standing here, and I am saying it. Since we are going to collaborate with ECOWAS and other countries that are donating such arms to these countries (African countries), I think we should insist that they should either enact laws to govern the handling of these arms and ammunition or build an armoury for these countries or else peace will elude us.”
Also, the representative of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Commodore Friday Ogohi, said that the bill on the establishment of a National Commission would help in the effective control of light weapons.
He said that the structure of the commission should be hinged on command and control, adding that membership should be drawn from existing security agencies based on experience.
Ogohi also called for the establishment of a special court to arrest the menace of arms smugglers and illegal arms, stressing that the CCTV would further boost the fight against bandits and other criminality.
On his part, the representative of the Department of Security Services (DSS), Shehu Ahmed, said the proposed bill for the establishment of the commission was commendable.
He, however, called for the independence of the commission, adding that henceforth, it did not have to source for staff from other security agencies.
Earlier in his remarks, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, assured Nigerians that the bills will be given accelerated passage.
Gbajabiamila, while noting that security is an important national issue, encouraged the security agencies and everyone to make submissions to the bills.