National Assembly to probe illegal arms import

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

House of Representatives

The Nigerian National Assembly has called for a thorough investigation into the illicit importation of firearms and prosecution of those responsible.

This was contained in a motion calling for transparency in the investigation of illegal importation of firearms into the country, adopted at the plenary on Tuesday.

Presenting the motion, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha expressed concern that the illegal importation of firearms contributes to the security challenges the nation is facing.

“Cognizant that the frequent illicit importation of firearms into the country contributes in fueling different shades of crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings, cultism, herdsmen invasion, cattle rustling, militancy, political violence, communal clashes, etc that are ravaging the nation,” she stated.

According to her ”I am concerned that the apparent lack of transparency in the handling of the earlier incidence of importation of 661 riffles may have emboldened the perpetrators of the recent 440 pump action riffles into believing that they too can get away with the crime.”

Members were unanimous that for the nation to consolidate the successes recorded in the fight against terrorism and other crimes, illegal importation of firearms must be dealt with.

The operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service had on January 22,2017, intercepted a trailer along Mile 2 Apapa Road, Lagos conveying a container of 661 illegally imported pump action riffles.

Following the interception, three people were arrested in connection with the conveyance of the firearms and about 4 customs officers involved in clearing the container were also detained.

On May 23, 2017, another container filled with about 440 pump action riffles allegedly imported from Turkey was intercepted at the Tin Can Island Apapa, Lagos .

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is to come up with workable plans on how to complete and put into immediate use, the 33 government’s silos constructed almost a decade ago.

The silos which would be use to reduce post-harvest wastes and preserve surplus harvest would help farmers earn more income and bolster the nation’s food security.

Presenting the motion, Mr. Solomon Ahwinahwi expressed concern that the over 280 billion Naira project was in very deplorable state of rusting and decay.

Laudable idea
“This laudable idea was conceived by Late President Musa Yar’Adua in 2009 to serve as strategic grain reserve, where excess harvest of grains like rice, beans, maize, millet, soya and sorghum etc, would be stored to reduce post-harvest wastes and preserve surplus harvest…It will also help farmers earn more income and bolster the nation’s food security. But it appears to have been abandoned and the silos are now being inhabited by reptiles.

”Also concerned that after huge and scarce resources had been spent on the project, it is being alleged that there are plans to concession out the silos to private operators who will in turn pay rent to the government...But to allow this will amount to a clear sign that the country is far from being serious with the touted quest for self-sufficiency in food production and storage,” Mr Ahwinahwi explained.

Members of the House were of the opinion that the huge resources spent on the project would not be allowed to waste, stating that the alleged plans to concession out the silos to private operators should be halted.

The silos which are located in Abuja, Ado Ekiti, Ilesa, Akure, Okigwe, Igbariam, Saki, Dankande, and Ikenne, comprised 10 silos with 100,000 metric tons storage capacity and 23 with a storage capacity of 23,000 metric tons, out of which 30 are now in very deplorable state of rusting and decaying.

Mercy Chukwudiebere