The House of Representatives, Thursday, passed through second reading a bill seeking to establish a commission to regulate the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.
The bill was passed through second reading when the speaker put it to a voice vote.
The bill, sponsored by the chief whip, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno) has the title: “a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of National Commission against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to coordinate and implement activities to combat the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria in line with the Economic Community of West African States Convention on small arms and light weapons and for related matters)
Monguno while presenting his lead debate on the bill, expressed fear at the proliferation of light weapons and small arms in the country,.
He said there the urgent need to put machinery in place to check the trend in order to save the nation from widespread crime and violence.
According to him, the avalanche of violence from banditry, Boko Haram and the uprising from the Shi’ite’s group should worry every Nigerians and that the arms in the hands of these groups were illegal ones and must be checked.
The lawmaker noted that the primary responsibility of any government is to protect life and property and work for the welfare of the people.
The Nigerian government, he said, should therefore set up the commission to check the menace posed by dubious characters and groups that are engaged in kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes.
The commission, when established will have as its function, the task of coordinating efforts to combat the challenges of proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country in line with the ECOWAS convention on light weapons.
Members who spoke in spoke in favour of the bill included Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (APC, Plateau), Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), Hon. Aminu Suleiman (APC, Kano), Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa)
The lawmakers all agreed that the police have been overwhelmed and that there is the need for the law to incorporate measures on how to also check the activities of blacksmiths who manufacture weapons of various grades and sell to all criminals thereby endangering the lives of Nigerians.
“The contributions of local arms are more dangerous that AK 47 assault rifle, it is import to look into the activities of the local blacksmith. No matter the cost implication, the benefit of the commission will offset the cost.” one of the members said.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said although some people may argue that multiplicity of agencies is not good for the nation, but it in most cases help in strengthening related agencies like the EFCC and the ICPC.