The House of Representatives has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his executive order, directing licensed gun owners to return same to security agencies on the revocation of licenses.
Members at plenary Thursday were united over a motion brought under matters of urgent public importance by Hon. Nnena Elendu-Ukeje, seeking Buhari’s rescission of the order, on the ground that the said move would make Nigerians more vulnerable to the persistent rising banditry, terrorism and kidnapping.
Elendu-Ukeje had in her debate argued that while in line with the nation’s firearms law, the president had powers to issue control measures on ownership of weapons, what was expected was efforts at retrieving illegal weapons, majority of which she said are in the hands of criminals. She said the president should rather opt for the proposed commission on firearms and light waepons, to “mop-up illegal guns.”
She said the president may have acted with concerns that Nigeria had been widely considered a fragile state, and insisted that “Under the firearms Act, the president has the power”, but that the citizens have the constitutionally guaranteed right to life, and to own property, moveable and otherwise, as far as they were acquired in line with the laws of the land.
She stated that there have been no empirical records, or report from intelligence that licensed light weapons were responsible for the rising insecurity, as it was most unlikely that a weapon owner under such circumstances would use same for crime, adding that most of the recorded arrest of bandits and other violent crimes showed that their weapons of trade “are military-styled guns”, which do not fall within the categories of those owned legally by most people.
While not totally disagreeing with the motion, Hon. Munir Dangundi, who admitted to owning a licensed gun,cautioned that his personal inquiries into the alleged executive order had proven that there may not be anything of such, urging the House to tarry a while, with a view to having the information confirmed. “When I called the person who licensed me, he told me he is not aware of anything like that”, he stated.
But Deputy Whip of the House, Hon. Pally Iriase, and Chairman Rules and Business Committee, Hon. Edward Pwajok argued that it was better to take preemptive steps, because according to them, allowing the said order to stay was akin to giving the criminal illegal gun owners a field day to operate unhindered. “Those who kill illegally are those who own guns illegally. 99.9 percent of those with license guns cannot use their guns illegally”, Pwajok submitted.