Calls for stringent regulatory measures to curb movement, handling
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As the country continues to grapple with escalating situation of insecurity, a Civil Society Organisation, Equilibrium Initiative, EI, yesterday, expressed worry over the uncontrolled sale of light weapons including machetes, knives, daggers, bow, and arrows in shops, markets, highways, and other public places.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, EI, Senator Philip Gyunka, where it attributed the sale of these weapons to the widespread violence and killings experienced daily across the country as there are no regulations currently enforced to control the public sale of the weapons.
The statement pointed that most criminals are right now in possession of these small and light weapons including bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and insurgents.
According to EI the monumental rise of insecurity in Nigeria is being amplified by the porosity of her borders with neighbouring countries and that has adversely affected and impacted her internal security architecture since the inception of the present administration in 2015.
The statement reads in part, “It is without controversy that the influx of herdsmen from neighbouring countries into Nigeria skyrocketed and the internal security challenges have been on the rise as well. Incidences of kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry, insurgency, violent clashes between farmers and herders have been unrelenting thus weakening the already overstretched social control mechanisms.
“The sale of dangerous weapons such as machetes, knives, bows, and arrows on our high ways in the public glare of security personnel is not only worrisome but monstrously destructive. This is a sequel to The fact that these weapons are often used to unleash terror on unsuspecting communities in a coordinated orchestration of carnage that often leaves in their trail bloodshed and the stygian gloom of war.
“The Firearms Act 1959 LN prohibits the sale of arms and ammunition including light weapons such as knives and machetes except for agricultural use with proper licensing. However, due to poor enforcement by security agencies such as the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, Nigeria Customs Service, and others. These dangerous weapons are being sold on our streets just like hawkers besiege commuters on the highways with oranges.
“The brazen impunity of herdsmen who brandish these weapons and use them to attack farmers who dare complain of the destruction of their crops by the marauding cattle of these pastoralists should impel security agencies to swiftly commence arrest and prosecution of those found carrying these dangerous weapons to protect the public as the primary purpose of government anywhere in the world is the protection of lives and property without which government losses legitimacy and moral sanction.
“Consequent upon the laxity of security agencies to curb this dangerous trend, Fulani herdsmen have garnered the effrontery and temerity to come into cities and markets where people converge to transact businesses wearing knives, machetes, bows, and arrows which sadly are the same weapons they often than not use to butcher unsuspecting members of the public.
“Whereas farmers who carry these implements to the farm are arrested and treated with disdain. This unfortunate act of criminality should be addressed forthwith by the government to restore confidence in the public on their resolve to fight insecurity without prejudice to tribe or religious cleavages.”
The statement also pointed out that, “The disturbing corroboration of the danger this represents is the intelligence report by the Department of State Services (DSS) dated 11th Jan 2021 which reads in part; “the Department of State Services (DSS) wishes to alert the public about plans by some elements working with external forces to incite religious violence across the country. Targeted States include Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers, Oyo, Lagos and those in the southeast”
“The intelligence report credited to Peter Afunanya, Public Relations Officer, Department of State Services, National Headquarters, Abuja further states, “part of the plan is to cause inter-religious conflicts as well as use their foot soldiers to attack some worship centres, religious leaders, personalities, key, and vulnerable points.”
However, the Initiative in the statement called on relevant security agencies to commence arrest and prosecution of “those found selling, buying or carrying these dangerous weapons particularly on the highways and to ensure proper licensing for those who need them for agricultural use as they often find their way into unscrupulous hands who might deploy them for criminality and during armed conflict.
“The government must regulate the sale and use of these weapons by providing an organised market where they are sold to people who genuinely need them like farmers and hunters and there must be a mechanism to monitor usage to ensure they do not find their ways into wrong hands which is often the case.”