Director General, National Taskforce on Small Arms, Light and Chemical Weapons, Dr Emmanuel Okereke, has raised the alarm over alleged stockpiling of ammunitions by some state governors and other political players ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
The allegation is coming just 31 days to the Presidential/National Assembly Elections, and 46 days to the Governorship/House of Assembly polls.
Raising the alarm during an interaction with journalists in Abuja yesterday, the NATFORCE boss said, the alleged stockpiling of ammunitions by desperate political players was facilitated by the porous nature of the nation’s border posts.
“Due to lack of a legally established specific body or commission as obtainable in 14 out of the 16 countries in the West African sub-region, all manners of ammunitions have been illegally brought into the country ahead of the coming elections by high class political players, including some state governors,” he said.
According to him, for Nigeria to effectively tackle the menace of proliferation of ammunitions with its attendant crimes, a National Commission for the Prohibition of Illegal Importation of Small Arms, Ammunitions and Light Weapons and other related matters, must be established, as already done by other West African countries, except Nigeria and Gambia.
The Commission, he added, was recommended for all West African countries through a resolution passed to that effect by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in December 2017.
“Unfortunately, while 14 out of the 16 member sub-regional body have complied, Nigeria and Gambia are yet to do the needful in that direction,” he lamented.
Okereke further explained that even before the ECOWAS’s resolution, a bill for the establishment of such commission, had long been sponsored at the National Assembly by NATFORCE.
The bill, currently in the 8th Senate, has passed second reading in the House of Representatives, but not yet in the Senate, having earlier failed to scale through the required legislative processes in the 6th and 7th National Assembly.
The Commission, when established, he added, would not be a burden on the finances of the country, but rather a revenue-generating one.
He therefore called on the Senate as it resumes plenary today, to fast track legislative business on the bill for the commission to be in place as soon as possible
Meanwhile, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state, has decried the spate of unrest and proliferation of small arms in different parts of the country.
Obiano, speaking at the 2019 Armed Forces Remembrance Day held in Awka, the state capital, said the anomaly has thrown up more challenges to the military.
“The growing spate of unrest in different parts of the country has thrown up more challenges to the military than can ever be imagined. The battle against the proliferation of small arms as well as the war on terror, have made enormous demands from our Armed Forces.
“The battle line has become unclear and it is almost impossible to tell who the enemy is. All these call for more support to the Nigerian Armed Forces,” the governor added.
He, however, maintained that his government has a cordial relationship with the service men and women in the state, having struck “a perfect partnership with them in the early stages of his administration, and together, we have created a peaceful and prosperous state.
“We have enjoyed peace like never before, and our beloved state has become the safest state in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces have continued to play their roles as the defender of our freedom and the ultimate pillar of our unity. Indeed, our service men and women have continued to inspire their counterparts across Africa for decades.
“The bravery of our military has always been the defining factor in all their peace-keeping operations across Africa and beyond. Fellow Nigerians, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Earlier, the Acting Chairman Nigerian Legion, Anambra state chapter, Major Ben Anigbogu (retd), while commending Governor Obiano for his support, solicited for more intervention in their welfare by providing them with accommodation and official vehicle, among others
CAN urges Christians on 2019
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria has called on Nigerians, especially the Christians in the northern part of the country, to stay where they are and shun panic relocation as elections approach.
CAN Chairman, Kaduna Central Zone, who doubles as Pastor of Light House Church, Kaduna, Essein Istifanus, said this yesterday in Kaduna, while addressing newsmen at the grand finale of universal week of prayer, held at St Joseph Catholic Church, Kaduna.
He expressed the belief that this year’s elections cannot be worse than that of the 2015 which God controlled.
According to him, CAN as a body, has been advocating that members should go out to get their permanent voter cards because that is what gives them the power as citizens to vote who they want into public offices.
“CAN as a body, has been seriously praying for this country, and we believe in God that He will see us through the hurdles of the election by His grace.
“I think the worst should be over. The worst was in 2015 when people were apprehensive of what was going to happen. So many people left town. But I want to admonish everybody to stay where they are because nothing is going to happen. We will cast our votes and God will give us peace in Kaduna state and the country,” he assured.
Also speaking, Chairman, Kaduna Principal Auxiliary of Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN), Dr. Tunji Adegboye of Wesley Methodist Cathedral, Kaduna, described the programme as a universal phenomenon where the New Year is being put in the hand of God for smooth running.
“Here in Kaduna, it has been a long standing tradition as it were. Initially the Bible Society of Nigeria was the one organising it. But for some years now, it has been a collaborative efforts of the Principal Auxiliary of BSN and CAN Kaduna Central zone, and our theme for this year’s prayer week centres on justice.
“Deuteronomy 16: 18-20 talks about justice and as we are all aware, this year is election year in Nigeria and if there is going to be justice, everybody should be given equal opportunity. In view of that, we are praying that God will elect for us a man after His own heart who will rule this country with justice where everyone will have a level playing ground to exercise his rights. If that is done, there will be peace in the land,” he prayed.
Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Pastor Adeyemi Isaac of Cherubim and Seraphim Movement in Kaduna said, 72 churches participated in the week long prayer activities