The Senate on Wednesday considered a critical bill seeking to tackle the illicit importation and trade of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
The Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons bill, which scaled second reading on the floor during plenary, was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi North).
According to Abdullahi, the piece of legislation among other things seeks to: identify sources and main routes of small arms, ammunitions and light weapons; establish links of liaising with relevant authorities, agencies and organisations with the aim of tackling the menace; and train and build the capacity of the corps towards and enforcement of this mandate.
The lawmaker added that when passed into law, the bill would put in place machineries such as the the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to combat illegal importation of arms; and enhance harmonisation of intelligence and information collection, analysis and dissemination among the Intelligence organs and law enforcement agencies.
He recalled that the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management organised in 2019 in Abuja by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, revealed that Nigeria hosts 350 million or 70 per cent of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa.
Abdullahi said: “Small Arms and Light Weapons are readily available, easy to use and have been the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society.
“These Weapons of Terror are in the hand of irregular troops operating with scant respect for international and humanitarian law, they have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the casualties.
“In Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge.
“There is general insecurity as most parts of the country experience high level crimes perpetrated using illicit arms.
“The UN estimated that of the most substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria.
“This has fueled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East, Armed robbery pandemic in the South West, Ethnic-Religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram terrorist operations in the North East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity.”
The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Senate Committee on Defence for further legislative work.
Meanwhile, a bill seeking to give legal backing to the establishment of the Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba also scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Wednesday.
Sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi West), the bill among others seeks to develop and enable the institution to offer academic and professional programmes and train agriculturists with capabilities of exploiting existing Agro infrastructure and improve on it to develop new ones.
The bill after scaling second reading was referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, chaired by Senator Ahmad Baba-Kaita (APC-Katsina North).