The Presidency has stepped up plans to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which it considers as one of the causative factors fuelling the internal security challenges in the country.
The Chairman, Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, stated this at the weekend in Abuja in response to the alarm earlier raised by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affair, Hon. Nnenna Ukaeje, on the dangers of illegal possession of firearms among Nigerians.
Imohe explained that the role of the presidential committee would stem the tide of small arms and weapons proliferation in the country.
He expressed hope that the committee would be upgraded to a full fledged commission as one of the conditions required for the domestication of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention and solicited the continued support of Ukaeje and the International Committee on Red Cross (ICRC), which had promised to offer technical expertise to the country.
According to him, the regulation and control of the use of light weapons is the key to solving the state of insecurity bedevilling the country.
â€œWe hope to use it to make a difference in controlling the amount of small arms and light weapons that enter and circulate in the country,â€ he said.
Imohe remarked: â€œThe president has charged us to dismantle the template upon which insecurity thrives in this country.
â€œYou cannot resolve the issue of insecurity in the country, without first dealing with the problem of proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
â€œI think that is the starting point. Our aim is to first modernise the law and the second one is to upgrade our committee into a commission as demanded by the ECOWAS convention.â€
Ukaeje had last week warned against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country, saying already Nigeria had more weapons at the disposal of the people than food.
She was said to have alerted the members of the presidential committee when they visited her office at the National Assembly to explore ways of partnering with the House committee to accelerate the pace of a draft bill before the House which seeks to transform the committee into a commission.
Speaking at the meeting, the lawmaker, who crafted the draft bill, said its sponsorship was borne out of the desire to ensure that an effective structure exists in Nigeria for tackling the problems posed by the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons, as stipulated by the ECOWAS convention which emphasises a commission rather than a committee.
In his response, Imohe expressed hope that the House committee chairman and the Presidential Committee on SALW would work together for an early passage of the bill.
He promised to submit to the House committee chairman soon after the presidential committees comments on the said draft bill.