Senate seeks tougher penalties for illegal firearms possession
Edwin Akwueh, Abuja
The Nigerian Senate has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to alter the firearms Act, as part of government’s efforts to prevent and curtail circulation of illegal firearms.
Some of the provisions of the bill include upward review of fines for offenders and destruction of firearms illegally imported into Nigeria or those owned by individuals without valid license.
United Nations’ regional centre for peace and disarmament in Africa recently published a report stating that proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in Nigeria has reached alarming proportion.
Besides, analysts estimate that out of about 500m illegal arms in West Africa, 350m can be found in Nigeria.
Other objectives of the bill include, provision of stipulated time for destroying unserviceable firearms, except in cases where there is a valid court order to the contrary.
It also seeks to proffer effective coordinated and sustained legislative strategy to address the underlying factors encouraging arms circulation and to block the outlets through which they are proliferated illegally.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Uba Sani believes that if passed and assented into law, “it will help government to take proactive measures in stopping easy access to and re-circulation of illegal arms in Nigerian communities”.
The bill was thereafter referred to the committee on Judiciary and Legal matters for further legislative actions.