The Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) has accused border communities of shielding gun smugglers, thereby fueling insecurity in the country through the proliferation of light arms and small weapons.
Program Director of PRESCOM, Dixon Orji, said this in Abuja yesterday while speaking to journalists at a workshop for security agencies aimed at reducing the risk of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in the Sahel region.
Orji, who represented the chairman of PRESCOM, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, said, “Those who do gun-running across our borders pass through communities, and sometimes the communities shield them, which is a big, big issue for us.”
He said, “We have identified some communities in Nigeria, through which these people pass with their arms. The problem is how to get these communities to understand that they are doing this country a big disservice by allowing and not reporting these set of activities.
“Sometimes it is understood that they are keeping quiet because they are afraid for their lives, afraid of the threat that these people pose to them. But we have to let them know that government can protect them so that we can stop the supply of these arms.”
Orji said, “We did a research on trans-border criminality and found that some people pass these weapons from Mauritania all the way to Chad.”
He said PRESCOM conducted arms destruction in Benue, Katsina and Zamfara states where about 7,000 weapons were destroyed.
He added that PRESCOM have also engaged seven state governments and ask them to commence civilian disarmament in their various states.
He said this is part of an ECOWAS-EU small arms project in the North West targeting Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kaduna states while in the South-South; Akwa Ibom and Cross-River states.
Earlier, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) Political Affairs Officer, Rumongi Jean Bosco, said its goal is to support member states to eradicate light weapons and small arms proliferation.