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NASS And The War Against Light Arms Proliferation

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Mopping up arms and light weapons from non-state actors has been on the front burner, leading to suggestions that a government agency should be empowered by law to do that.

Over the years, politicians and political actors have been accused of supplying or ensuring a free flow of arms and light weapons into the hands of non-state actors. This allegation has remained rife such that after most major elections, amnesty is granted to thugs in exchange for surrendering of weapons in their possessions.

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To reduce the free flow of arms and light weapons in the country, the Nigerian Senate had last week Wednesday, before proceeding on their usual yearly ritual – recess, passed the National Commission against the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Establishment) Bill, 2022 (SB. 513).

The bill was read the Third Time and passed. The Senate in the Committee of the Whole and Plenary considered the establishment of a National Commission against the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Establishment) Bill, 2022 (SB. 513) and approved the Clauses 1-33 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedule as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended.

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These clauses have been the major impediment to the bill. The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on National Security and Intelligence.

The bill is a consolidation of three bills – two private-member bills and one from the Executive arm of government against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.

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They are: The Nigerian National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Establishment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 283); the Nigerian National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Establishment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 513); and the National Centre for the Coordination and Control of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 794).

The three bills after scaling second reading respectively in the Senate, were all referred to the committee on National Security and Intelligence for further legislative work.

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Chairman of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC – Sokoto East), in a presentation on the floor, said the three bills seek to provide for the establishment of a government body that will be saddled with combating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.

According to him, the functions of the body shall be in line with Article 24 of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons which came into force in 2009.

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The lawmaker added that the committee on National Security and Intelligence resolved to consolidate the three bills into one.

He explained that doing so would adequately cater for the establishment of a commission to implement measures aimed at eradicating illicit arms.

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Gobir noted that establishing a commission against the proliferation of weapons stemmed from the need to immediately address the nation’s present state of insecurity.

This achievement by the Senate, which many see as an opportunity for Nigeria to get things better on security, was realised as a result of hard work by the director general of Natforce-Natcom, Dr Baba Mohammed.

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T. is no doubt, Nigeria needs a grassroot actionable intelligence model in combating small arms proliferation for national security.

Pundits have said each local government in Nigeria (774 local governments) should have at least 300 Natforce personnel, trained and deployed to the localities to ensure that proliferation of small arms and illegal weapons are checked effectively to end frequent communal clashes and killings in parts of the country.

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This may not be achieved if the current director general of Natforce, Dr Baba Mohammed is not supported.

Some say Mohammed remains the man with the gravitas for the job, adding that as a technocrat, bureaucrat, re.s manager and a seasoned accountant per-excellence with proven records of extensive community, national and international leadership capacity and has more than what is required to fill the identified alarming gap collaboratively within the country and its territorial borders to take Natforce to it enviable heights.

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Mohammed’s emergence as the director general of Natforce, at resumption, he immediately commenced the process of translating Natforce to Natcom through.  He didn’t stop t..

He ensured that despitethe politics that engulfed the organisation in the past, he pursued the legacies of his predecessors which enabled the National Assembly to pass the law.

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Mohammed’s penchant for addressing national and continental security challenges in line with the ECOWAS protocol Informed the need for the pursuit knowing too well that seeking for legislative authority/backing from the National Assembly for an enabling Act to give the organization the needed legal teeth was imperative.

“The bill which seek for the approval for an Act to provide for the establishment of Nigeria National Commission (NATCOM) against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to coordinate and implement activities to combat the Problem of proliferation of SLW and chemical weapons in line and compliance with ‘article 19’ of the ECOWAS convention in conformity with member’s states like (Sierra Leone, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and other implementing countries) that have already established their national commissions within the sub region accordingly, “ Mohammed said while at the national assembly.

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Considering the push and propensity by which the bill was passed, pundits say they can only view the patriotic zeal of Mohammed in the context of Nationalism.

“Daniel has come to judgment” …  just like what transpired in merchant of Venice of the Shakespeare; especially given the fact that, he has technically and administratively move Natforce from a helpless position to an enviable status, especially by strengthening the entire workforce structure of the organization and instilling discipline and conduct of staff/members across board,” Agaba Iduh Fidel said.

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Fidel said the deployment of creative and innovative intellectual prowess by Mohammed, coupled with his wealth of experience gat.d over the years from both the public and private sector has helped Natforce.

Pundits believe that without political interference, Natforce will help Nigeria in mopping up light weapons in the country since it is now backed up by law.

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