The National Centre for Small Arms and Light Weapons has profiled and placed on surveillance over 500 blacksmiths in Niger state in order to cut off supply of guns to bandits.
The North Central Coordinator of the centre, Major General Hamza Ibrahim Bature, stated this Thursday in Minna during a courtesy visit to the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Niger state council.
He described the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country as alarming, adding that intelligence report has shown the involvement of some blacksmiths in the fabrication of NATO standards rifles for terrorists in the North Central states.
He said, “Most people handling small arms today in the country are unauthorised. This growing trend is resulting in wide spread violence and insecurity. In Niger state, 18 local governments out of 25 have been invaded by bandits as we all know and this is due to proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.”
According to him, “We have been able to do a lot of covert operations driven by intelligence. Unfortunately, our blacksmiths have abandoned their traditional roles for fabrication of high calibre guns to terrorists. We have therefore profiled 500 blacksmiths here in Niger and kept them under surveillance. We have their names and associates and they are closely watched.”
He said some of them who have been indicted for supplying guns to bandits have been picked by appropriate prosecuting security agencies.
Major Gen Bature explained that some blacksmiths in the country are able to fabricate automatic weapons that fire ammunition of world standards.
The national coordinator explained that the centre is currently operating from the office of the National Security Adviser.
In a remark, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Niger state council, Comrade Abu Nmodu, commended the centre for its credible performance the intelligence discharge of its responsibilities.
He assured the centre of maximum cooperation and support in media coverage of its activities, adding that NUJ would synergise with the centre and all security agencies to curb the menace of banditry in the state.