1.3m illicit weapons in circulation – Presidential c’ttee

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By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA— THE Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, PRESCOM, claimed, yesterday, that over 1.3 million illicit weapons are in circulation in the country.

Chairman of the committee, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, disclosed this at the launch of the integration of Nigeria into the ECOWAS-EU small arms project, held at the ECOWAS Commission, Abuja.

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Imohe, who described Nigeria as the confluence of small arms and light weapons from Africa, also said the country had become the centre of criminals from the entire African continent.

He said Nigeria was caught in the web of small arms and light weapons which he noted, remained weapons of choice for many violent criminals, insurgents, extremists and economic saboteurs.

He said:  ”When we factor in the current spate of insecurity, as Nigeria seeks to wrap up the remnant of the terrorist threat posed by Boko Haram, we come to the painful realization that SALWs and IEDs are the primary tools for fuelling, sustaining and exacerbating armed violence in Nigeria. “

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He said the project was targeted at seven countries, including Nigeria, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Niger.

He added that the project was an intervention under the programme “EU Support to ECOWAS Regional peace security and and Weapons Collection Programme” in the context of the ECOWAS Conflict Framework component which sought to promote practical disarmament in member states.

According to him, the project in Nigeria will focus on seven states, including Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states over a period of two years.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Khadija Ibrahim, stated that the project which brought together the Economic Community of West African States{ECOWAS}, the European Union, the United Nation Development Programme{UNDP} and PRESCOM in the efforts to rid the menace of proliferation of illicit weapons, was an exemplification of the kind of collaborative agenda which the government of Nigeria was advocating..

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, called on federal authorities at strategic control agencies to re-strategise their efforts to ensure that all avenues of trafficking and access to illicit arms and weapons were completely closed.

At the event were representatives of Kaduna and Katsina states , the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta/ Coordinator,Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig Gen Paul Boroh, and the UNDP Resident Representative, Mandisa Mashologu

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