A report has revealed that all parts of Nigeria are ravaged with armed violence, which has been detrimental to the socio-economic well-being of the country, with 80 per cent of weapons in private hands having been acquired illegally.
The report, titled: 'The Violent Road', which was presented to the media in Abuja yesterday, was conducted by the National Working Group on Armed Violence (NWGAV) in conjunction with the United Kingdom based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).
According to the Director, AOAV, Mr. Iain Overton, there is pervasive proliferation of illegal arms in the country, most of them in private hands.
Overton raised the alarm at the high rate of impunity involved in committing armed violence in the country, with illegal arms dealers operating in the country unchecked.
He noted with bewilderment that the high percentage of violence were being repeatedly perpetrated by those who have done it before without being prosecuted.
To combat armed violence, he emphasised the recommendations of the report, demanding that more needs to be done in the country with regard to weapons stockpile management; marking and tracing of small arms; and that Nigerian institutions should open up the disarmament process to greater review and transparency.
Overton said: "The report highlights the need for civil society in Nigeria to focus on the small arms, ECOWAS convention and the recent Arms Trade Treaty and that their lobbying needs to be ramped up for the domestication of the convention and treaty in Nigeria.
"The report also highlights an endemic level of impunity for many of those involved in committing armed violence in Nigeria. The findings showed that high percentage of those involved in armed violence are former offenders and that over 80 per cent of private possession of arms are illegally acquired."
"The conclusion is simple: perpetrators of violence should be brought to justice irrespective of who they are. This highlights the need for perpetrators of armed violence to be more rigorously brought to justice. Impunity will only be combated with a rigorous analysis of the existing judicial system."
Also speaking, the chairperson of NWGOV, Ms Mimidoo Achakpa warned that armed violence had damaged the economic and social well-being of the country.
Achakpa said the organisation looked at how armed violence impacts Nigeria, with a particular focus on 18 states in the six regions of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
She listed drivers of armed violence in the country with North-central at the fore front, to include pervasive ethno-religious dispute; electoral political thuggery; assassinations; terrorism; and the widespread and affordable presence of small arms and other weapons.
"Drugs and other factors such as endemic poverty were also cited in the report as being drivers.
"It stressed how violent attacks by Boko Haram are hugely impactful, with Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto States affected since 2012. In this vein, the report highlighted that the North-Central region has some highest national levels of violence with communal militias being involved in over 40 per cent of incidents of political violence and over 75 per cent of conflict related fatalities there," she added.
The 24-page report also disclosed that porous borders within the North East zone had made it possible for influx of weapons from different countries; that the South-south's conflict was inextricably linked to oil exploration; while armed violence in the South West largely manifests itself in the form of political violence; and that across the nation there are frequent, and often unreported clashes between nomads and indigenes.