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Nigeria accounts for 70% of small arms in West Africa



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The seizure of about 2,671 pieces of smuggle firearms within the last eight months has again brought to the fore small arms proliferation in Nigeria due to the country porous borders.

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace (RCP), had estimated that there were 350 million Small and Light Weapons (SALWs) in Nigeria, or 70 per cent of the 500 million SALWs in West Africa as of 2016.

This explains the disturbing level of violence in the country, and the tendency that the weapons may become handy to cause national havoc is very high if proactive measures are not taken as matter of urgency to curb the trend.

A security expert and Managing Director, Executive Guards Limited, Edinen Usoro, said the Nigerian Customs Service (NSC), and other relevant agencies must leave no stone unturned to monitor all entry points into the country.

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He said the major implication of what illegal arms do is to kill businesses, and send investors away, adding that when the security situation of the environment is not conducive for business, investors are afraid to bring in their capital and invest.

Linking illegal arms importation to high rate of kidnapping in the country, Usoro further said the importation may just be ways some criminals are trying to advance their nefarious activities.

Another expert, Mrs. Victoria Ekhomu, said security at the ports is not effective, as most of the illegal arms were intercepted only through a tip-off. The implication of this, she said, is that many of such killer cargoes may have been secretly evacuated from the ports undetected.

“Security at the ports is not effective because most of the containers that were intercepted were through tip-off. That means many others must have already gone out of the port. So, when these groups are making threats, they have to be taken seriously. We have to deploy security agencies around the country to man different hot spots.

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, blamed the government for refusing to fix broken down scanners, thereby paving the way for arms of such magnitude to find their way into Nigeria.

“There is urgent need to repair the collapsed scanners in the ports that is the core on security tool to reduce the influx of illicit goods in the country,” he added.

The experts said this should serve as a wake-up call to the security agencies on the need to plug all loopholes, and ensure that the country ceased to be a dumping ground for weapons.

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