The West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA-Nigeria) has advocated for the setting up of an independent Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) secretariat by the Federal Government.
President of WAANSA-Nigeria, Josephine Habba, said it became imperative to urge the federal government to do so because of the 102 state parties who have ratified the ATT, Nigeria is one among the two state parties who do not have an independent secretariat.
“All over the world efforts are made at marking and tracking manufactured arms, we commend this effort but wish to point out the fact that marking and tracking of ammunition is even more important as arms on their own do not kill or maim.
“Ammunitions directly cause hurt and deaths when the trigger is pulled. Moreover, it will be easier to trace perpetrators of gun violence if the bullets are marked and can be traced,” she said.
Habba noted that WAANSA, being at the fore front of advocacy for an end to illicit trade and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria, cannot over emphasised the negative impact of poor control of arms in Nigeria.
She lamented that more than 3,641 people had been killed in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, and Zamfara States between January 2016 and October 2018 due to violent clashes between herders and farmers.
“These clashes have been a fight to control and access resources including water, land and pasture. According to Amnesty International (AI), the government has the constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property where this has not worked as expected this promotes the demand and supply of small arms and light weapons.
“Aside from deaths resulting from the gun violence, hundreds of thousands of persons have been displaced internally. In Benue State alone 483,692 persons have been displaced, 56.24 % of the displaced population are children and 22.59% are women, while 21.17% are men,’’ she added.
Habba said in line with the UN statistics that 5.2 million people in the northeast are in urgent need of food assistance with 450,000 children below the age of five in urgent need of nutrition while in July 2018, Doctors without Borders reported that 240 children had died from malnutrition in Borno State.
The WAANSA president therefore urged the government to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of armed violence.