The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno has said that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons constitutes a huge threat to national security.
He spoke at the destruction of 3000 illicit small arms and light weapons recovered by the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) at the Nigerian Army Engineering Deport in Kaduna on Wednesday.
Represented by the Director, Policy and Strategy in the office of the NSA; Ambassador Aminu Lawal, the NSA said the failure of the global community to control the availability of illicit SALW has continued to undermine global peace and significantly hindered development, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
He said, “There is no gainsaying in the fact that the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SMLW) constitutes a huge threat to our national security. It has become a major source of vulnerability in our society and stands out as a key driver of violent conflict, crime and terrorism within and beyond our borders.
“The failure of the global community to control the availability of illicit SALW, I dare say, has continued to undermine global peace and significantly hindered development, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. We recognize the complexity of the challenge of controlling the proliferation of SALW in Nigeria and the requirement for concerted action between the government, international community and all well-meaning Civil Society organisations (CSO).
“The task ahead of us remains very daunting, requiring the support of all Nigerians and the international community alike. I, therefore, want to seize this opportunity to convey Mr President’s commitment to providing the necessary support to strengthen the centre’s capacity to deal with the multifaceted challenges that confront it.”
Moreso, he assured that the government is working assiduously and engaging the NASS to ensure the expeditious passage of the Bill establishing the centre.
As the country draws closer to the general elections, he emphasised the need for Nigerians to continue to uphold the culture of peace and resist overtures from unpatriotic elements who want to heat the polity and create a false sense of insecurity among the people.
He implored the general public to unite and work together to protect the country’s peace, political stability, socio-cultural harmony and fledgling democracy to help the government realize the vision of a safer Nigeria.
The Coordinator of the centre, Major General Abba Mohammed Dikko (rtd) in his opening remarks noted with concern the growing prevalence of craft weapon production across the country and the contributory role it has continued to play in escalating the menace of illicit arms proliferation.
However, he assured that efforts have reached advanced stages to create a robust database of all gunsmiths and other related artisanal tradesmen in the country with a view to establishing a regulatory regime for their activities or integrating them into the state weapon production architecture.
He then explained that the objectives of the destination exercise is to prevent captured illicit weapons from being recycled into society and to meet Nigeria’s obligations on weapons destruction under various international instruments.
The NCCSALW was established in May 2021 as a part of a wider national response to the escalating menace of the proliferation of illicit SALW in Nigeria and the sub-region.