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Reps divided over arms proliferation bill

Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday expressed discordant views over a proposed bill seeking the establishment of a commission to tackle the proliferation of small arms in Nigeria.

The bill, sponsored by Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno), however, passed second reading despite some lawmakers’ reservations over the proposal to remove the responsibility from the Nigeria Police.

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When established, the commission will coordinate and implement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.

Umar Bago (APC, Niger), who kicked against the clause on the creation of a commission, suggested that a special unit be incorporated within the Nigeria Police to tackle the problem of arms proliferation in Nigeria, just as Aminu Suleiman (APC, Kano) said “government should address police remuneration and retraining first.”

But Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau), who argued in favour of the bill, noted that aside the importation of small arms into Nigeria, indigenous blacksmith were contributing to the proliferation of arms, ‎warning against parading individuals that voluntarily surrender their arms.

“If you know the implication of locally made arms and ammunition, you will then understand the importance of this bill. The inputs of local arms are more dangerous than AK 47 assault rifles. There is need to look into the activities of local blacksmith,” the lawmaker said.

Also speaking in support of the bill, Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa), said the bill has become inevitable in light of Police ineffectiveness in dealing with the issue of arms proliferation in the country.

“Weapons are literally everywhere; the Police are currently overwhelmed. If the Police had been effective, there won’t be any need for a commission,” Namdas stated.

After deliberations, the bill was unanimously passed for second reading.

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