By Dakuku Peterside
From the small handguns of the 15th century to the sophisticated machine guns and other small and light weapons of our time, the world has suffered mayhem and wanton destruction due to the rightful and wrongful use of these weapons. In the hands of non-state actors, these weapons are used to challenge the state monopoly of coercion and in committing all levels of criminality, from kidnaping, armed robbery, banditry, and criminal revolt against the state.
The more dangerous dimension in Nigeria is the illegal possession of military-grade arsenals by criminals and non-state actors. This unlimited and unchecked proliferation of illegal arms has reached an epidemic level in Nigeria in recent times with attendant national security implications. Neither the Executive nor the legislature or the security agencies seem to have mustered the will to tackle it. Only a few cosmetic exercises have been done. I acknowledge the little gains made by these efforts, but they have not been enough to reduce, if not eradicate, the menace of the proliferation of small and light weapons in Nigeria.
The issue of illicit Small And Light Weapons (SALW) is a serious concern globally, and Nigeria has not been immune to its effects. Illegal small and light weapons refer to weapons that are not controlled by a state or a non-state entity and are often used in criminal activities or conflicts. The proliferation of such weapons in Nigeria has had devastating consequences, contributing to the perpetuation of violence, crime, and insecurity in various parts of the country. There have been reports of the circulation of small and light weapons in different regions of Nigeria, particularly in areas affected by conflicts, such as the Niger Delta, the North-East region plagued by Boko Haram insurgency, and other volatile areas, but no serious attempt, by Nigerian authorities, has been made to get data about the estimated number of SALW in circulation. These weapons often find their way into the hands of criminal groups, insurgents, and other non-state actors, fuelling instability and posing a threat to both national and regional security. With access to many illegal weapons, the rogue elements have become emboldened and more aggressive, hence less amenable to entreaties to make peace and are objects of terror to all. The situation where these rogue elements have better and more sophisticated weapons than the security agents leaves much to be desired. We expose our security men to harm’s way in their seemingly onerous task of protecting us.
The statistics on small and light weapons aberration in Nigeria are alarming. According to Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based non-profit, in 2020, Nigeria had an estimated 6.2m of arms in the hands of civilians, excluding those of the military and law enforcement agencies. This means that 3.21 per 100 persons in Nigeria have firearms, whereas 224,200 and 362,400 guns were in the possession of the military and other law enforcement agencies, respectively. This is by far the highest number of civilian small arms and light weapons in any African country. The same organisation posits that Nigeria has more Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) than any country in sub–Saharan Africa.
The economy of SALW is growing and robust in Nigeria due to the multifactorial and complex situations fuelling the proliferation of illicit SALW. These factors include illegal smuggling of weapons through our porous borders, the conflict in the Sahel region in recent times, stolen firearms and gunrunning by rogue security personnel, a thriving local arms industry in places like Awka, Calabar, Lagos and other known local weapon manufacturing locations in Nigeria, illegal mining activities and oil bunkering, drugs and narcotics linkages, political violence especially during elections, armed vigilantes and extremists, and private security outfits. The demand and supply of these weapons are growing, creating a vicious circle of use of these weapons to perpetuate criminality. The superiority of the man with the gun over others who do not, and his ability to bend others to his whims and caprices, makes ownership of illicit arms attractive to many, even if not for use in criminal acts, but for self-defense. This is the bane of Nigeria. Citizen’s self-help in security issues is an aberration and does not help the SALW conundrum Nigeria has found itself.
Nigeria has attempted to combat this issue, including participating in international initiatives and implementing various policies and programs to control the spread of illicit weapons. I must acknowledge the work done by the Amnesty office, which has conducted small arms and light weapons amnesty at various times. They collected many SALW in exchange for giving the people who submitted them cash incentives. Furthermore, the Nigerian government has set up legislative, institutional, and policy frameworks to tackle this menace. The National Commission for the Coordination and Control of Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons is one such instrument to deal with these issues. However, not much has been heard of the activities of this agency. Notwithstanding, continued commitment and collaboration at the national and international levels are crucial for effectively addressing the epidemic of illicit small and light weapons in Nigeria and creating a more stable and secure environment for its citizens.
Addressing the challenge of illicit SALW in Nigeria requires a combination of strategies and a multifaceted approach that involves cooperation between the government, security agencies, and international partners. Strategies might include a nationwide arms decommissioning exercise, strengthening border controls to prevent the influx of weapons, improving intelligence-gathering mechanisms to track illicit arms trafficking, and implementing disarmament, and reintegration programme to retrieve weapons from non-state actors and reintegrate them into society.
Furthermore, promoting community-based initiatives, fostering dialogue, and investing in socio-economic development can help address the root causes of conflicts, thereby reducing the demand for these weapons. Strengthening law enforcement and promoting judicial reforms are also essential in ensuring that those involved in the illicit arms trade face legal consequences.
It is time to strengthen appropriate institutions to enforce laws and regulations on the control of SALW. We must upend the penalty and punishment for bearing illegal arms and ensure people know the severe consequences of being caught with illicit arms. We must invest in Intelligence to track the movement and location of these illegal arms and take the war to those who engage in this unlawful and dangerous business. We must remember that we can either cut off the supply for SALW and watch the demand fizzle away or vice versa. Any actions or inactions that will hurt the SALW economy will be in the right direction. Political merchants and their thugs should never forget that Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) live longer after elections.
Government at all levels must collaborate with civil societies and other interested local and international agencies to systematically reduce the risk of proliferation and transfer of SALW by confiscating and destroying these weapons. They must raise awareness, especially among children and youths, about the dangers of illicit SALW through a robust and well-organised campaign, education, outreach, and representation. They must implement evidence-based policies and practices to control the spread of SALW. Private citizens must resist the desire to resort to self-help in the issue of insecurity, thereby worsening the scourge of weapon proliferation. The government must take back control of the security of the nation, which is its primary role, and give citizens confidence that the government can and will protect their lives and property.
The proliferation of SALWs, occasioned by multiple factors of porous national borders, allows for the smuggling of these weapons from other countries connected with previous and present conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, a booming business of gunrunning by security personnel, a thriving local arms industry and nonexistence of a robust and fit-for-purpose regulatory and enforcement mechanism are the main factors fuelling Nigeria’s security challenges, giving rise to criminal activities across the country. This grim revelation does not bode well for Nigeria, especially at this critical time when the nation is experiencing severe economic and security challenges across almost all the regions. It is time we stepped up our game to confront illicit SALW and start resolving our insecurity problems. The government must take back control of its supremacy in the use of instruments of coercion in Nigeria and make most non-state actors disengage in trying to control some or all parts of the Nigerian state.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent