It is no gainsaying that the poor regulation of small weapons is contributing to the rise in violence in Nigeria. The non-regulation of weapons has led to mass killings in different parts of the nation and has resulted in Nigeria having several internally displaced people.
Also, the poor regulation of small arms by the government has brought about the escalation of violence among Nigerians. The issue of banditry, farmers and herdsmen clashes, and kidnapping, among other dastard activities, are said to be carried out with the aid of weapons such as local guns, cutlasses, knives, machetes, and diggers, among other locally made weapons.
It is apparent that the locally manufactured arms, which are normally fabricated in small-scale factories, without legal permits, account for the large percentage of arms in circulation in Nigeria, especially in Northern Nigeria. According to preliminary findings by the National Small Arms and Light Weapons Survey (NSALWS), the North-central zone recorded the highest number of crimes committed using small arms.
Most of the village kidnapers use cutlasses, knives and locally made guns to perpetrate their demonic activities. Initially, poor regulation of small arms led to an increase in crime rate in the Southern part of Nigeria as issues of ethnic clashes, thuggery, cultism and kidnappings etc are at their peak.
The poor regulation of small arms and light weapons brings about tension in the North-central, North-west and North-east regions. Clashes between farmers and Fulani herders are increasingly becoming a nightmare; lives are being lost, properties worth billions of naira are being destroyed. However, there have also been cases of cattle rustling, leading to violent clashes between rustlers and Fulani herders.
Though the National Assembly has banned the importation of weapons into the country, there is the proliferation of locally-made arms and light weapons in the country, resulting in a high number of crimes in society. Using locally-made arms, many youths engage in criminal activities which eventually cause havoc to our communities.
When locally made arms are available in the markets our youths become susceptible to crime where people are killed, injured and billions of naira worth of property destroyed. Therefore the issue of small arms is contributing to the destruction of our societies.
In many markets across Nigeria, especially in villages, one will see people selling locally-made arms to just anyone without knowing the end use of those weapons, this causes increase in crimes related offences in Nigeria. Therefore, the government should regulate the sale of locally-made weapons in Nigeria to tackle the issue of insecurity.
Allowing people to have access to weapons of whatever kind brings about an increase in crime rate. Nigeria as a country is facing huge insecurity challenges that need to be stopped completely and that will only be possible if the government regulates the sale of locally made weapons.
Muhammad Balumi Galtimari,
Department of Mass Communication,
Borno state University.