By Richards Adeniyi
The Senate recently summoned the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali over the illegal possession of firearms by unauthorised persons in the country.
Summoned alongside Ali are all service chiefs; Director General of the State Security Service, Lawan Daura and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.
The summons was sequel to deliberations on a motion titled “proliferation of dangerous firearms in Nigeria” sponsored by Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North).
Hunkuyi had called for the invitation while lamenting the incessant killings in several parts of the country with reference to the most recent killings in Kaduna State on Saturday.
The recent attack by bandits in Gwaska village of Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna left at least 58 people dead.
Several houses in the village of about 3,000 inhabitants were also set ablaze.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently condemned the Gwaska attack and rolled out measures his government was putting in place to prevent a re occurrence.
In his motion, Hunkuyi noted that tribal, communal, religious, and other sectarian clashes, including the farmers/herders crises, are now more devastating due to wrongful and easy acquisition of firearms in violation of due process of such acquisition as laid down by the enabling laws and regulations.
The lawmaker said the trend has contributed to the colossal loss of lives and wanton destruction of property of Nigerian citizens.
He said, “This is attributable to the inability to control the proliferation of firearms into this country; as well as negligence from the departments of government entrusted with the responsibility to control how individuals, corporate entities can acquire and maintain firearms in Nigeria, but particularly the free access by hoodlums to acquire firearms easily.”
He expressed worry that despite the killings in Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara and other parts of Nigeria, since the start of the year, meaningful efforts are not being embarked upon to curtail the proliferation of firearms in Nigeria.
He said, “The situation has worsened to the extent that some opinion leaders are calling on Nigerians to stand up and protect themselves. These prodding at self-defence, if not checked through action by the government, would certainly get to the extent that firearm would be secured by every household either in the name of protection or for some other purposes. From the observation of the United States experience, such a scenario will not augur well for this country.”
Hunkuyi also expressed disappointment at the fact that the various departments of government entrusted with the responsibility of checking and regulating the influx of firearms in Nigeria “have failed woefully in the discharge of this all important duty.”
Contributing to the motion, James Manager (PDP, Delta), described the proliferation of firearms as one that should not be ignored. He said the situation had put the lives of everyone, (especially the unarmed) in danger.
He expressed worry that worse could happen with the election year approaching and no one “can tell what will happen.”
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North), said the motion gives the Senate “an opportunity to look at one of the reasons why we are suffering today.”
He said, “The issue of proliferation of firearms is definitely a major reason why we have the killings going on.
“Our security officers are not even properly armed. The armed forces lose their firearms to these culprits and it has been established that most of the firearms in the hands of the criminals are from our armed forces and security agencies.”
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